2013 was a great year for me to learn more about fitness and health. I tried 3 specific diet changes: a caloric deficit, a vegetarian diet, and a caloric increase (bulk phase). Fitness wise I tried #P90X2 , #BodyBeast , and my own custom routine I put together from my own research.
As you can see from the charts I lost a ton of fat and weight through P90X, but P90X2 really pushed me to the lowest body fat and weight I’ve ever been since in my teen years (I’m 34).
Sadly, the caloric deficit, which consists of eating 500 to 300 calories less per day then you need was devastating to my muscle growth. The math isn’t perfect, since measuring body fat by averaging what the body fat scale and the fat calipers isn’t an exact science. That said, you can see on the spreadsheet I basically lost all the muscle in 3 months that took me 10 months to build by basically starving myself. So while the chart makes it look like a victory, 60% of the 15 lb weight loss was muscle vs. fat. It took me 6 hard months to slowly earn it back.
So, while I like the way a vegetarian diet made me feel, I don’t think I want to go back to a caloric deficit as my body is quite sensitive to get into a catabolic state (burning muscle vs. fat).
Halfway through P90X2, during a 4 hour Minecraft session I damaged a nerve in my foot by sitting on it on a wooden chair. I got drop foot; basically I could press my right foot down on the ground, but not lift it up. This means I walked like a zombie by either dragging my foot or throwing my knee, but at least I could jump in PAP Lower… just landing became insanely dangerous. I head to wear a leg brace so I could walk. This lasted for 4 months and just magically got better one day. This forced me to do P90X2 using 1 foot. Erik Stolhanske of P90X1 Plyometrics and Broken Lizard fame, who completed P90X with 1 leg, gave me inspiration to go on.
Now that I saw how low I could go, I decided to go the other way and see how big I could get through body building.
Body Beast just wore me out. I couldn’t do my own cardio or yoga on the side; my entire energy was devoted to just doing my best the entire 30 to 50 minutes. They have many high rep progressive sets, and even her majesty could see the physical change in just my face on the 1 week I rested. It clearly exhausted me, but I DID manage to gain almost 6 pounds of muscle so that was awesome. I also learned better form for a lot of moves I sucked at.
However, everything I read said lower reps, compound movements, and more rest. So I built a custom routine, borrowing some moves from Body Beast, some from P90X1 and 2, some from pictures/blogs/YouTube videos I found online, and some in the books I read. I did my own build, bulk, and cut phases over the course of 90 days. I ate till I was about to puke during the bulk phase. The 2 weeks I tracked it on myfitnesspal.com I was getting nearly 3,700 calories a day.
Doing my own cut phase was rough. I didn’t really plan for a reduced routine with increased cardio so basically just worked out for 1 hour and 30 minutes 3 days of the week, and then 1 hour for the rest of the shorter routines. I managed to shed some fat while maintaining my weight which was awesome, but challenging. I failed to do the 50% protein diet merely because I just don’t know enough recipes and got bored eating chicken, beans, brown rice, quinoa, salmon, and yogurt all the time.
Muscle wise, though, I came out on top, undoing the damage my caloric deficit created. I hope to try intermittent fasting and a heavy protein diet this year to see what they do.
Exercise and diet are just like programming: Tons to learn, tons to try and experiment with, and the more I do it the easier it gets to learn more. I’m happy with my results. Breaking my chest plateau this year proved I can break my bicep plateau as well if I just work hard.
I’m happy with the results of my hard work. I hope you reach your diet and fitness goals for 2014. Happy New Year, y’all!