I don’t know where January, February and March went.
I’ve been busy travelling, getting engaged, fixing my damaged shoulder and getting our new apartment straight, so haven’t had a chance to write much. Instead of getting into a long post here, I’ll make this first post of 2014 a round up of the things I think are pretty cool right now:
Sitting at a desk all day sucks. I mean it. It really sucks. What’s more, it’s killing us. I like my job, but I don’t like sitting down all day. I never realised how much damage sitting was doing until I started strength training with some conviction. I have tight hamstrings and hip flexors – the implications of this are when I try to perform a loaded movement, for example an 70kg back squat, the potential for injury is significant because my movement patterns are not as they should be.
I managed to tweak my knee a few weeks ago just by squatting. I bought Becoming a Supple Leopard by Doctor of Physical Therapy, Kelly Starrett a while ago and have spent a lot of time reading through it recently. I bought myself a foam roller from My Protein and a couple of lacrosse balls from Again Faster and I’m using them to work on loosening off muscles and fix my areas of tightness.
I’m also a lot more conscious of how I’m sitting at work and at home and am making a real effort to “get organised” – you’ll need to grab yourself a copy of the book or check out some of Starrett’s videos to see how.
I’ve been reading this book on the way to and from work. I look forward to my commutes just so I can read a bit more. It’s full of fascinating insights into how and why we as a race will overcome challenges of the future.
Ridley takes an in depth look at how we’ve arrived at where we are today and presents his ideas with clarity and meaning.
A very good read.
As part of my ongoing conquest for increased mobility and my interest in gymnastic movements, I recently bought the GB Starter Pack from Gymnastic Bodies. I’ve only worked through the first few progressions, but I’m very pleased with the purchase so far. The course is delivered entirely online and includes both videos and photographs of what “mastery” looks like. Well worth a look.
Until next time.
I love getting up early this time of year. I’ve always been an early riser, it’s not something I’m able to change, it’s just that the appeal of getting up earlier for me depends on the time of year. Give me a dark December or January morning and I’d rather stay in bed when I wake up sans-alarm at 0700. This morning captured what I love about this time of year.
Before I pulled up the blind this morning I knew that I’d be greeted by a deep blue sky. Without going outside, I knew that there would be a cool crispness in the air. If I lived somewhere a bit more rural than central London, I’d look forward to seeing the dew on the grass. I look forward even more to seeing the first frost of the year. Today for me signalled the start of the part the year in Britain that I love; perhaps because I have so many fond memories from my school days that were captured on mornings like this.
I had a good breakfast of a chicken and onion omelette and and an espresso and decided that I’d go out for a ride. I planned to road test the new slicks that I fitted (with a great deal of regret) to my Orange G4 a few weeks ago by riding from home to the office and set out with that in mind.
I got as far as Embankment and discovered that I another weekend of road closures was going to prevent me from taking the route that I’d planned. I was on Westminster Bridge. I quickly decided to explore part of London that I’m not very familiar with – the stretch of London south of the river between Lambeth and Putney. I decided not to rush, I wanted to make the most of being outside. I ended up crossing the Thames 4 times, but really enjoyed the ride.
I have promised myself that I will spend more time outdoors this autumn and that I’ll invest in a new DSLR to capture some images at a time of the year that I enjoy so much.
I’ve been doing a bit more walking recently. Last weekend my friend Jon and I walked from Virginia Water to Windsor Castle via Windsor Great Park and the Long Walk. I’ve been tracking metrics from my walks using my Garmin Edge 800. It’s not ideal as it’s really designed for use on a bike, although it’s better than nothing.
Here’s the link to my Garmin stats for the walk:
It’s been a while since I’ve posted here. I’ve been experimenting a lot with my diet and training over the last few months and so have some interesting observations.
As you’ll see from previous posts, I first started tinkering with my nutrition in March 2012 when I started following Tim Ferriss’ “Slow Carb Diet” from his book, the 4 Hour Body. This diet worked incredibly well for a number of months and I dropped weight pretty quickly. The diet incorporates a cheat day – one day per week where you are permitted to eat whatever you like in whatever quantities you like. Every Saturday I ate all the crap that I’d missed during the week. It worked, but it was neither healthy nor sustainable. Fat loss plateaued and despite many tweaks to kick it off again, it didn’t happen.
With my growing interest in CrossFit came a growing interest in nutrition and getting it right. I read Robb Wolf’s book, the Paleo Solution and was sold on Paleo. Incidentally, the Paleo Solution is by far the best book that I’ve bought for a long time – it taught me so much about how my body works. I switched to eating a paleo diet (i.e. meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar) 6 out of 7 days per week. My weight and body composition fluctuated, probably due to increased calorie intake through excess dietary fat.
After a few more months of Paleo and almost zero progress on the body composition front, I was at a loss. Where was I going wrong?
I did a lot of reading around and recorded each meal for a few days. Here’s what I discovered:
- It’s pretty easy to over eat when you are including nuts and seeds in your diet – cashews were a problem for me, I love them!
- I was having a cheat day every week, so wasn’t giving my body time to heal from the damage caused by poor food choices over the past years.
- I was doing CrossFit 3-4 times per week, but without being fat adapted and with insufficient carbs in my diet. This caused blood sugar crashes during my WODs which were answered by cortisol release. Cortisol cock-blocks fat loss. Game over.
I decided that I needed to be a bit smarter with my approach to this:
- I decided to do the Whole30 to allow my gut to heal. 30 days of nothing but good, solid food – no cheats, no grains, legumes, dairy or alcohol.
- I put CrossFit on hold for a few weeks. I increased the amount of training I was doing, but decreased intensity so I wasn’t digging into my glycolytic pathways. I focussed on bodyweight resistance training – isometric holds on the rings, ring dips, pull ups, Abmat sit-ups, push-ups, body rows, kettlebell rows and a solid dose of mobility work recommended by KStarr at MobilityWOD.
I’ve visibly dropped a significant amount of fat, still holding some around the mid-section, but that’s finally giving up now I’ve started to get better sleep. I can’t say how much I’ve lost yet as one of the rules of the Whole30 is not to get on the scales – my last weigh in using Beyond the Whiteboard was as follows:
Weigh-in: 80.6986 kg / Lean Mass: 64.7 kg / Body Fat Percentage: 19.8%
Today is day 29 – I’ve been feeling so great during the last 29 days that I’m just going to continue eating this way. I may have a cheat meal from time to time (rather than a cheat day), but it won’t be a scheduled affair – I’ll just go off-road for social events.
I decided to up my gym activity over the last two weeks, trying to go more consistently and focus on a few exercises. I’ve started physio on my shoulder and have got back some of the mobility that I lost. I can now perform bodyweight resistance exercises like the dip, but cannot yet do anything overhead. Pull-ups were OK, but I’ve been told by my physio not to do them for a while.
Here’s what my last few gym sessions have looked like:
Monday 26th November
- 5-5-5-5-5-5-3-3-3 x back squat (olympic bar, increasing weight to max weight of 56kg)
- 15 x bodyweight dips
- 1500m row (in 6:18 so 3.968 metres/second)
Wednesday 28th November
- 10 warm up bodyweight dips; then
- 5 x bodyweight dips every minute on the minute for 5 minutes
- 10 warm up myotatic crunches; then
- 10 x myotatic crunches every minute on the minute for 4 minutes; then
- 1500m row (in 6:45 so 3.703 metres/second)
My diet last week was very low carb. I suspect the better performance on Monday in the rowing was because I’d had a carb-up period over the preceding weekend, so I had plenty of glycogen in the tank, but by Wednesday I’d used most of it up.
I went to the gym today with the aim of doing some strength training and some rowing. Here’s what I ended up doing:
- 5-5-5-5-5-5 x front squat (olympic bar, increasing weight to max weight of 51kg – I failed the last squat with 51kgs on the bar)
- 5 pull-ups
- 1500m row (in 6:38, so 3.768 metres/second )
- 5-4-3-2-1 parallel bar dips
- 3 pull-ups
My shoulder is on the mend, but still not able to press anything with any meaning. Today’s home WOD was slightly longer than normal. Here’s what I did:
- 60 x 16kg kettlebell swings
- 1 min rest
- 30 x 16kg
Followed by 21 – 15 – 9 reps of:
- 12kg dumbbell curls
- 60 sit-ups
- 30 crunches
- 100 air squats (10 air squats as fast as possible, every minute on the minute)