Friday, December 28, 2007

Year In Review : Gym Journal/Workout Progress 2007

Very early in 2007, I had an embarrassing incident which affected my self image and how I perceived my physical self. Having had worked hard to lose almost 10kgs the year before through controlling my dietary intake, that incident was a wakeup call that told me that I was not doing enough. I took that incident to heart and instead of letting it chip away at my already low self esteem, I resolved to put the embarrassment and anger I felt to better use. I took stock at my own level of fitness at the time and determined that it was time to change things. The feelings of embarrassment, anger, bitterness and self inadequacy left by that incident fueled my determination to overcome years of inertia when it comes to physical fitness.

I signed up for a gym membership at Sunway Pyramid a few weeks after doing some shopping around for the best gym rates. At the time, the gym was only scheduled to open in the 3rd quarter of 2007 so I got cheaper rates by virtue of getting pre-opening rates. Given the proximity of the gym to my apartment, I would be able to spare myself the inconvenience of going far for gym as I would have had I chosen a different gym. I also took advantage of their free InBody checks to determine my current levels of weight, body fat % and BMR. I took those measurements as my baseline and at the beginning of the year I was 80.5kg, 31% body fat with BMR of 1583 kcal.

BMR was basically the amount of calories that a person can burn with just the normal body functions without any exercise. Breathing, walking, cell repair and other internal functions contribute to the BMR levels. I took that BMR level as the minimum level of calories that I would take in for a day. I kept in mind that anything that I ate that went beyond my minimum would have to be burned off someway or it would contribute to weight gain over time. I also had to increase my metabolic rate to increase my BMR levels and I changed the frequency of my meals to do that. Instead of just eating 2 large meals a day like I often do at that time, I broke it down to 5 small meals a day. I tried to estimate the amount of calories that I was taking in per meal and try to limit it to about 300 kcal per meal. I still kept the calorie intake flexible so that I would not miss out on good meals but I try to adjust my portions in those situations.

Since my gym didn’t opened till August of 2007, I spent the preceding months working out using a DP Body Tone II exercise body rowing machine that I bought years earlier but did not use much till this year. At the time, I focused more on upper body conditioning by doing bicep curls, body lifts and some assisted push ups. I also had my daily walks of about 30 minutes each way that I had to do to get to my office as my cardio workout. Once my gym opened, I obviously had more equipments to play with and in the beginning stayed with the stationary bikes for cardio and the weight stack machines for muscle conditioning.

Before the gym opened, I set aside about 1 hour daily for my home workouts. When I started going to the gym, I set myself a goal of making use of the gym facilities at least 4 times a week. I have since upgraded that to 5 times a week with Tuesdays and Saturdays designated as my gym off days. I was able to stick to my 8:30 – 10:30 workout schedule per visit with the exception of Sundays when I would go to the gym earlier in the afternoon to spend about 4 hours there. My workout plan would normally be divided into a 40 minutes cardio warm up, 1 hour of weight or circuit training and a 20 minute cardio cool down. I happy to say that I have been able to more or less stick to that schedule for this year.

From the start of the journey, I also decided to engage the services of a personal trainer to guide me with my workouts. It was quite an expensive item to splurge on since, unlike my gym membership which was on a monthly term, I had to pay all of my PT fees upfront. Looking back, I have to say that it was an great investment despite my initial misgivings about taking a PT. Not only was my PT a source of knowledge on how to use the gym equipments properly, he also helped me to track my progress throughout my fitness journey and motivate me to reach higher levels once he felt that I needed to be challenged. We bonded almost immediately given that we came from almost the same type of background and upbringing which made for an enjoyable partnership. I guess that I may have lucked out in this case, having heard of less than ideal experiences people had with their PT, but I would still recommend gym newbies to consider working with a PT when they start to gain the confidence to properly make use what the gym had to offer.

In terms of work out intensity, I have seen measurable gains in the things that I could do now compared to what I was able to accomplish when I first joined the gym. I remember being unable to completes a series of squats and push ups that I now can breeze through for my circuit training (still have problems with maintaining a 1 minute plank position though). The amount of weights that I load up on the weight stack machines has also gradually increased thanks to the motivation from my PT who always challenge me to move on to the next level when he felt that I was ready even when I thought that he was crazy for suggesting it. I remember how excited I was when I lifted my first 3 digit load (in lbs .. still have a ways to go before I can lift any 3 digits kg load) ever having thought that it was impossible for me to do so. That as definitely one of my red letter days of the year for me.

Without a doubt, getting interested into fitness and really sticking to my gym workout schedule really helped my this year. I got a chance to further lose weight which is now hovering between the 75 – 77 kg range depending on my calorie intake that week. My blood pressure readings also dropped from a high of 196/125 to about 148/98 which is definitely good news for me. I’ve also dropped 2 inches off my waist this year to 34 which was something that I have never been since 12 years ago. I still have not yet reached the optimum weight target for my height but if I stayed my course, it is within the realm of possibility to be achieved in 2008.

Thanks to that embarrassing incident earlier in the year, I was able to use all the feelings it left me to motivate me to go on this fitness journey. I have long since forgiven for the incident but I still call on that memory to spur me onwards to reach for even higher heights to this day. I guess it’s just my way to turn a negative into a great positive for me to work with. As I always told myself, this fitness experiment/journey that I am on is just starting and would be one that I would be happy to continue to share in my future blog entries.


crewcut75 said...

Way to go.

It's one thing to be determined, it's another to be disciplined. I know of a few people who could follow your example.

Here's to 2008.

Nickxandar said...

Thanks for the encouraging words!

I am also thankful for being able to met people who inspire me to reach for a higher fitness goals. Nothing beats having a visual example to motivate me to stay disciplined.