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Monday, January 2, 2012

2011: A Year In Review

One year ago I weighed 235lbs, the heaviest I have ever weighed.

I am embarrassed to show this picture!
I was a fat, out of shape, unhealthy... personal trainer!  I was a hypocrite.  I had the knowledge and knew what it took to get people to their optimal fitness levels, but I wasn't applying that knowledge to myself.  I would preach good eating habits, what to do in the gym and how to live a healthy lifestyle.  I am sure people would think "what the hell does this guy know?  He's a fatty!  Why would I listen to him?"  To be honest, I don't blame people for thinking that.

I hit my tipping point.  I was ashamed.  I decided to make a change.  To begin the new year, I set two goals.
  1. Get In Shape
  2. Start A Blog
Get In Shape:
To accomplish this goal I needed to do two things.  Overhaul my diet and work on a consistent workout regiment.  I started doing every workout from Crossfit.com.  After a couple months of doing the daily WOD (Workout Of the Day), and following the 2011 Crossfit Open, I decided to make the commitment to compete in the 2012 Crossfit Open.  I began keeping a nutrition and workout log for myself and posting my efforts on this blog for everybody to see.  I did this to both hold myself accountable and hopefully help people in their own fitness efforts.  Throughout the year I improved my exercise programing to get myself ready to compete in the 2012 Crossfit Open.  I spent more time on my weaknesses (muscle-ups, L-sits, overall strength...) while still improving my overall fitness.

The most important habit change I made was the change to my diet.  I began a diet my wife has termed "The One Ingredient Diet".  This diet is similar to a Paleo diet, with a few modifications.  On "The One Ingredient Diet" you eat only foods which have one ingredient and avoid foods with more than one ingredient.  You consume foods such as vegetables, fruit, meat, nuts, seeds, beans... any food found in nature.  You avoid foods such as pasta, bread, cheese, anything processed, anything containing preservatives.  On the Paleo Diet, you avoid potatoes, beans and dairy.  On "The One Ingredient Diet" you can eat these foods, as long as they do not have any added preservatives, go through any processing, and contain only one ingredient.

To start the year I decreased my amount of alcohol consumption.  Instead of having 4-6 beers on a Saturday night, I would have 1-3.  This helped me through the first part of the year, but I decided I needed to get more strict.  On June 13 I made the decision to not drink alcohol for 1 full year.  This decision has been one of my best decisions of the year.  My recovery is much better, I have a lot more energy and I have become much more disciplined because of this decision.

For the first few months I concentrated only on what types of food I ate, eating however much I wanted.  I shed a lot of weight with this strategy (down to around 210lbs).  I then realized there are three very important aspects to nutrition.
  1. Food Quality:  What types of food you are eating.
  2. Food Quantity:  Caloric intake.
  3. Food Timing:  When you are eating certain nutrients and how you split up your caloric intake during the day.
These three factors are equally important to an optimal diet.  Throughout the year I tweaked these three aspects of nutrition and came up with what I believe to be an optimal nutrition plan for myself.
  1. I eat, 90% of the time (sometimes I eat cheese, sausage, or order deep-fried chicken wings) "One Ingredient Diet" foods.  
  2. I consume between 2000-2100 calories a day.  I find this caloric amount supports my training and gives me adequate energy while helping me shed excess body fat.
  3. I eat 4 evenly divided meals throughout the day (eaten roughly 4 hours apart).  I tend to consume fruit and starchy vegetables earlier in the day (I feel this gives me more energy for workouts).  I consume high cholesterol foods, leafy greens and different types of cruciferous vegetables every night to increase testosterone production (which will help recovery and performance) and improve overall health.
I am now down to, as of this writing, 189lbs.  My fitness level has improved dramatically.  (Click here to view my progression on the "burpee-stairs" workout)  I have more energy.  I have not yet been sick this year.  I was able to wear my contacts throughout the summer months (In the past I have been unable to wear my contact lenses in the summer months due to allergies.  I am convinced the change of my diet has cured this issue).  My complexion is much better.  I am well on my way to be somewhat competitive in the Crossfit Open.
My wife and I after a year on "The One Ingredient Diet"
Start A Blog:
More important than improving my own fitness level I wanted to become better at improving the fitness level of my clients, family, friends and anybody who is looking to improve themselves.  I thought a good way to do this would be to start a fitness blog.  I could use this forum to educate people, or just give my opinion on exercises, exercise equipment, health products, nutrition, motivation... any fitness related information.

The blog has evolved a lot throughout the past year.  I would never consider myself a great writer, but I believe my writing has become much better (and hopefully I am still improving).  In the early days of the blog I would post funny videos and post random thoughts to hopefully entertain readers and increase the amount of content.  ("Naked Grandma" video may be my favorite funny video post).  These posts were fun and entertaining but they were not relevant to the mission of the blog.  As the year has progressed I tried to only post information relevant to fitness and decrease the amount of "filler."  This resulted in fewer posts per week (especially the past few weeks during the holiday season) but hopefully the quality of posts has improved.  Hopefully I will be able to increase the amount of relevant content this coming year.  Suggestions and reader feedback is welcome and encouraged, so feel free to add to the conversation at the bottom of each post.

The blog has brought me opportunities I would not have dreamed of a year ago.  After writing a post on the "Tabata Interval", I was contacted by The Post Standard to be interviewed about the execution and benefits of the tabata interval.  They also asked me and my co-worker and friend Dan Goldberg, to demonstrate tabata intervals for their news story.  (Click here to view story on syracuse.com)  This news story allowed me to reach many more people than I had originally expected.


I recently began keeping a Client Log, which is linked to at the top of this blog.  This tool has allowed me to easily record client progress and allow people to view how I train.  I hope to evolve this tool throughout this coming year to better train my clients and help others looking for help with their training.

I can honestly say this was the first year I made a new years resolution and actually accomplished what I set out to do.  I hope this blog has been a useful tool for you and your efforts to improve your fitness.  If there is anything I can do to help you reach your fitness goals please contact me.  If you have any suggestions on how to make this blog better, do not hesitate to tell me.  I hope to keep evolving FitSyracuse.com to better help you reach your fitness goals.

I hope this will be a healthy and happy year for you all!

5 comments:

Well done mikey, really. I am proud of you! Love you!

Great post! You really should be proud of everything you accomplished. Plus, less than a month until it all begins . . . .http://games.crossfit.com/features/videos/2012-reebok-crossfit-games-open-registration

nice job Mike! Keep up the good work...I think I'm going to add Tabata interval workouts to my agenda this year.

Looking good, Mike! The old saying "you are what you eat" certainly applies...to us all.
My bad cholesterol is down over 30 pts. since starting my veggie, whole grain, no white sugar or flour, & no processed food - way of eating. Happy New Year to you both!

Thank you all for your nice comments and support.

@kt: Love you too!

@Tanya: You should be proud of what you have accomplished in the gym as well. I have seen huge improvements in your fitness level the past few months and you are one of the hardest working people I have trained. Crossfit Open for you next year?!

@Chuck: That's a great idea. It will definitely improve your training.

@Carole: You are absolutely right; You are what you eat! I am very happy to see you are having good results! Andrea and I will stop by for a visit next time we are in town.

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