IF-fy

As you might have read I have been experimenting with intermittent fasting (IF) this past week. Originally my intention was to use it 3 days a week in conjunction with weight lifting, following the Stronglifts program. As it turned out I started fasting Monday night after eating dinner. I had no food between 8PM and 12PM Tuesday. I ended up working out on an empty stomach, the premise being burning off fat while you exercise. After I was completed my lifting, 90 minutes later, I ate.

I had no problems skipping breakfast and not eating until after I had worked out. Unfortunately, looking back on this I will have to adjust the feeding window or change my work out because it has been very difficult NOT to eat while at work. I have failed the last 2 days, but I also need to be flexible, as IF is something I am just experimenting with. I did have outstanding results when running. On Wednesday I put together 2 of my best miles, running a 7:57 to start and 2 miles later backing it up with a 8:16! All this while fasting. In fact running felt great, better than if I ate 3-4 hours prior to running.

On Thursday I came back with another Stronglifts session. I was able to increase weights on the squat, overhead press and the deadlift. Much like running the previous day if felt great lifting on an empty stomach and I felt as if good progress was made. The left shoulder pain continued to be a problem as I cut the deadlift short by 2 reps. The real challenge would be the next few days as work would stand between IF and my work outs.

Friday was difficult, but I held off until about 11AM before I finally decided to eat an oriental salad and a veggie roll with pad Thai noodles in it. I knew this would have an adverse effect when I went to run my 4 miles later in the day. Looking at my IF chart, moving the feeding window won’t accomplish anything. The problem is getting off work by 2PM and home 60 minutes later and then putting in a 60-90 minute work out or run. This means I don’t eat until 430PM or 5PM. By this time, the feeding window is well on it’s way to closing. Fasting for 16 hours is manageable, but adding an additional 4 hours is probably not the best idea.

Interesting enough I could feel a big difference when I ran 4 miles. It felt better to run on an “empty” stomach rather than one that had food in from lunch or breakfast. Unfortunately, work gets in the way again and there is no way to incorporate weights or running while at work, I don’t have that sort of down time or equipment. Not quite sure what I will do, as I sit here contemplating how to fit a full 3 days of IF in.

Shoulder Impingement?

shoulderimpingementIt would stand to reason that as soon as I start making good progress in my weight lifting I suffer a setback. While not confirmed by a physician, the pain in my left shoulder is telling me otherwise. Weight lifting has been one of the best forms of physical activity I have ever taken up. I have seen some positive changes since starting Stronglifts in October, 2012.

I’ll consider myself lucky that I have been relatively injury free, improving my mobility and flexibility with stretching. Until now, the only noticeable problem was a tight hamstring in my left leg near my glute. I can only assume I strained it while squatting, but it hasn’t stopped me to date. Yesterday I might have suffered my first injury that could put a damper on my progress.

While warming up during my squats I was doing a mobility technique called a shoulder dislocators, which allows more mobility in the shoulders allowing me a tighter back and closer grip on the barbell when squatting. All was going fine, absolutely no pain when doing this mobility exercise, not even the clicking I had my left shoulder, when I first say and attempted this some month back.

After finishing my squats I moved the overhead press and then to what I considered to be my strongest lift, the deadlift. I have been working on my form the past few weeks, as I noticed in some video I recorded that my back was not in the best position, so I had been working on correcting this to allow me to pull more weight while doing so safely. I was working with 235 lbs., which was the my highest work out weight to date for the deadlift. I had previously lifted 240, but it was only a 1RM (1 rep maximum).

As I took my stance, I bent over and got my grip prior to leaning forward in preparation for the lift. I pulled the weight very well twice before I noticed a sharp pain in my left shoulder. This is nothing new, I have seemingly had a pain in this shoulder that required me to go to the doctor some months back. After being prescribed a anti-inflammatory I was told to relax and not do anything would inflame the shoulder. Easier said than done, right?

I would pull the weight two more time before the pain became too much and I had to drop the weight and stop. Thankfully I was done with lifting, but not before I could not move the shoulder because of the pain. I have spent the better part of the last hour or so looking for advice on the Stronglifts Forum, as well as search engines in order to gain a better understanding of what problem I might have. From all my reading I can only guess it’s a form of shoulder impingement, which is somewhat a catch all phrase for many kinds of shoulder pain.

The pain has not gotten any better this morning and I will see how it feels on Sunday, which is my next scheduled day to lift. I might head into the garage and see which lifts hurt the shoulder more. Right now without actually getting under the bar, those moves that require me to pull, which would be the deadlift and the rows are out. Squats I should be able to accomplish, even if I have to move my hands out a big further, but even squatting I have experienced shoulder pain previously, but knocked that off to a lack of mobility. I will also give the bench press and overhead press a try. All of these will be performed with just a barbell to see how the movement feels.

If the pain continues into Monday, I will call the doctor’s office and schedule an appointment. Since this will be a follow up to a previous problem, hopefully they will schedule an x-ray or MRI. Not that I have any faith in my doctor to actually do that, as prescribing more medication is usually the easier option for him.

Run Forest! Run!

runforestrunSo the first month of training for my half marathon is complete for the Summer Breeze Half Marathon in San August. For the month of April I logged 27.57 miles in 4h:29m:38s. Not too bad for never having run for distance or training for any sort of road race. I skipped walking, power walking and jogging on the schedule and moved right into running, figuring I had done enough cardio at the gym that I could start right off with running. I do feel it was a good start.

I started off with a pace of about 9:45 to 10:15 per mile, but as of my last run on April 29, I was able to log an 8:48 and 8:55 in my two mile run. The best times I have put up yet. Hopefully I can add to my distance this month while dropping a few more seconds off my mile time as I work up towards 13.1 miles. It’s interesting to see the schedule only has one training session in which you run 10 miles. Not sure of the logic there. I know I will add a few other 10+ mile runs as I get closer to the race date. I might even drop in a 13.1 mile run, but that is still some weeks off.

For me, I have never liked running. Hated since we had to run the cross country course back in junior high at Twin Peaks Middle School. I was never good at running and could never maintain a good pace to keep up with many of my friends. Now, it’s all about challenging myself. I am not running to win a race. In my quest for health, I want to improve my cardio, even if that means having an adverse effect on my weight lifting.

I am growing to like running, being out in nature, alone with just the wind blowing through the grasslands of the California Delta. Much of my running right now has been in and around the Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley. It’s relatively flat, which makes for good times, but in my training for Tough Mudder I would like to find some hills. In fact I found one hill. Actually it’s an embankment to an overpass, which has had some foot traffic. I was planning on using this hill for my Tabata Training, but I fear it’s not a 20 second run up the hill.

Tough Mudder is going to be hard enough, but at 6,330 feet above sea level, in the summer is going to make it that much more challenging. So with running, I am trying to train for two completely different events. Everything I have read is that if you can cover 3 miles with requiring water, you should do fine. What I don’t want to lose is the muscle gains I have made thanks to Stronglifts. “Studies also show that there is a 9x greater decrease in subcutaneous skinfolds (fat) when doing HIIT than traditional endurance based workouts” (source).

With any luck I will continue to see a decrease in my overall time and an increase in the amount of miles I am running daily and monthly. I do feel better after a run, even though I am usually exhausted. I now look forward to grabbing my Brooks and hit the trails for a run.

IF

fastingI have been pleased with the gains I have made over the course of the last 16 months as it relates to my health. After learning plant-based nutrition I have made many positive steps in a new lifestyle, one that I have embraced but tried not to push on others. No one wants to feel pressured when faced with change. I accepted the guidelines and made a conscious decision to improve my life, as relying on the medical establishment and Big Pharma was not how I wanted to live the rest of my days.

The addition of exercise has been awesome! There is really no other word to describe how I feel after I finish running or rack my weights for the final time. While my body is usually tired that is a clarity followed by what can only be identified as a jolt of energy, read to tackle what obstacle comes my way.

I subscribe to a few different web site including Dr. McDougall, Vegan Body Building and Stronglifts Inner Circle. Since changing my diet Dr. Mc Dougall’s discussion boards allowed me to gain quite a bit of insight into a plant-based lifestyle, along with gaining a further understand of nutrition thanks in part of Jeff Novick. Vegan Body Building is the newest discussion board I have joined after being frustrated with responses from the Stronglifts discussion board. In defense of the Stronglifts, all the users I have communicated with have been respective of my point of view, as it’s the minority when it comes to how to eat when lifting weights. Many support a Paleo type of diet, favoring meat and fat over carbohydrates. The common ground of both of these diets are the whole foods and vegetables.

I have learned quite a bit, not only about lifting weights, but about nutrition. One of the more interesting topics I have started reading about IF of intermittent fasting. “Intermittent fasting (IF) is a pattern of eating that alternates between periods of fasting (usually meaning consumption of water and sometimes low-calorie drinks such as black coffee) and non-fasting” (source). Many Stronglifts users talk about IF and Leangains as ways to introduce fasting to the weight lifting regime in order to burn fat and build muscle.

I have been reading fasting information from Brad Pilon, author of Eat Stop Eat from his website, but haven’t bought the ebook…yet. I continue to read comments and topics about IF and if it’s something that I could benefit from. It was actually information from Lani Muelrath who wrote a few topics on fasting after 4 months of “mini fasts” (her report).

I started looking into IF after being a bit frustrated with the returns I am see as it relates to lifting weight. I figured after 6 months I would have some bigger gains and better results, based on a the photographic record I am keeping. That does not mean I am unhappy with what I have achieved. I guess I expected more but regardless of what decision I come to I will continue to lift weights and run for my health. Diet is the easy part, as I am already at my desired weight.

Goals for attempting intermittent fasting? Decrease my body fat, something that has been occurring regularly while following Stronglifts. Continue to lift heavy weights in order to gain strength. Have increased energy on days I fast. Avoid overeating, while enjoying food more.

Potato Hack – Day 20

Weight: 179.7

Exercise: It was late, but I was able to get a 90 minute work out in performing squats, bench press and rows.

Breakfast: Bowl of shredded wheat with almond milk.

AM Snack: Bowl of Bob’s Red Mill Old Country Style Muesli.

Lunch:

PM Snack: Baked tortilla chips with cheese sauce #2 and a Kind Bar.

Dinner:  Three broiled corn tortillas topped with cheese sauce #2 and salsa roja and a small mixed green salad with cabbage, carrots and almonds topped with Chef AJ’s Husband’s Favorite No-oil Dressing and Sriracha Hot Sauce.

Synopsis: There was definitely better ways to finish my 20 day potato hack, today was not a very good day. It started off as it had done the 19 prior days with a bowl of cereal, but I followed it up when I was at work with some muesli after realizing I had forgot my baked potatoes at home. The only option I was left with would have been to buy some white rice in Chinatown, downtown Oakland. I decided not to partake in the rice and wait it out until I got off work. I wasn’t overly hungry since I had eaten cereal and muesli.

My son and I had a 430 PM baseball game, which left me no time to lift weights and even less time to get something to eat. By 300 PM I was hungry and when I got home I realized my wife had eaten the 3 small baked potatoes for lunch. I had a handful of baked corn tortilla chips dipped in cheese sauce #2 followed by a Kind Bar, before we packed up our equipment and headed out the door. While at the game, I had the desire to chew sunflower seeds again through the entire game.

By the time we got home it was after 700 PM. I made dinner for my son and then went to the garage to get my work out in. I didn’t want to skip a day, as I did with running last week and figured I could finish before 900 PM. The work out went well, as I revisited a few weights I had done last time on the all three exercises. I was successful last time, but didn’t feel comfortable with the weights, so I did them again. Slow and steady wins the race, right?

It wasn’t until I was done that I was past hungry and the cupboard was nearly bare. Many different foods available, but not much that I could eat. I opted to broil a few corn tortillas with cheese sauce #2 and salsa on top and when I finished I threw together a small salad. As I said, not the best day to end my 20 days on.