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Aspect
09-06-2004, 06:34 AM
Hi, welcome to my journal. I’ll warn you in advance, I tend to write long posts so I won’t be offended if you fall asleep; just try not to snore please….

So here’s the condensed history. I’m 28 years old, male, born and living in the Kingdom of Northumberland (yeah fair enough, we were conquered 1200 years ago, but one day we’ll rise again….) I’m 6’ 3”, 199lbs, and around 18% bodyfat (I currently only have a bio-impedance device, but will be getting callipers in the near future). I’ve trained on and off for several years, but the last 18 months have most definitely been “off” so I’m essentially starting again from scratch.

My life’s been rather hectic over the last few months, with preparation for my wedding, then the day itself and a lengthy honeymoon; and a busy period at work. Now that I’m back and the wedding’s over, I should settle down into more of a routine, so it’s finally time to start training properly again. I’ve just finished fixing up my garage, and have ordered a power rack, bench and weights; these should arrive in the next couple of days.

Work is still busy and this looks like being the case for at least the next six months. I work a shift pattern which isn’t ideal (two 10-hour day shifts, two 14-hour night shifts, then four days off), but I should be able to work around this. Note that my training will therefore be based on an 8-day “week”, as my shifts will dictate my training.

My long-term goals fall into different areas. My ideal physique would be lean and muscular, not massive; probably along the lines of 220lbs at <10% bodyfat (bear in mind I’m tall, so 220 isn’t huge). Obviously this means I need to gain lean mass and lose fat (wow! How off-the-wall am I?!?) Along with this, I want to improve my cardiovascular fitness, improve my flexibility, and get into the habit of eating a healthy diet that I can maintain long-term. Perhaps most importantly, I want to improve my control over my diabetes (I’m an insulin-dependent diabetic). Note also that my diabetes limits how lean I can get - quite simply, I need enough subcutaneous fat to be able to inject comfortably.

I have a reasonable knowledge of nutrition and the theory of physiology, body-building etc. My problem is that I just don’t put it into practice. I know what I should eat and what I should do – I’m just very good at procrastinating and avoiding doing it. I’m hoping that keeping a journal will help my overcome this natural tendency, and help me finally get – and keep – these aspects of my life in shape.

I want my journal to be useful, meaning it needs to be a tool that will keep me on track as I write as, as well as something I can refer back to. I intend to set short-term goals very regularly, to make sure I’m staying on target; of course I will also set longer-term goals.

Here’s how I plan to approach my training, diet etc.

Training – Weights

As I mentioned earlier, I’m essentially starting training again from nothing. At first, I plan to train three days out of every eight, on an abbreviated full-body routine, and will maintain this as long as it’s productive. I will start slowly at first with intentionally light weights, and concentrate on keeping my form tight as I increase the weights. During this initial period my main goals will simply be to get into a good routine and to sort out my diet.

Once past the initial stage (which will involve embarrassingly low weights, so please don’t laugh), I’ll focus on steadily increasing the weights week on week in the big exercises.

My routine to begin with will be as follows:

Squats
Overhead presses
Deadlift
One-arm dumbbell rows
Bench presses
Crunches

I will add calf raises as soon as I can get / build a suitable “step” to do them on.

This routine is very basic and simple compared to the norm. However, I strongly believe that there’s no point using isolation exercises until you actually have a significant amount of mass. I certainly don’t fall into this category. I plan to use these big, basic exercises for quite some time. Once I’ve added some mass I can address any imbalances I have, but I expect this to be at least a year away. If the routine isn’t working I will alter it, but I intend to give it a good try.

After a few months when I’m stronger I may well swap out exercises (e.g. add chins rather than DB rows), but the overall shape of the routine won’t change much.

Training – Cardio

I enjoy cardio training, and intend to build up to a decent level of fitness. As such, I’d like to do some kind of cardio training at least four days of every eight.

I plan to cycle to and from work now and again (a 25 mile round trip), though this won’t be all that often. Otherwise, my cardio training will include running, cycling, and using elliptical trainers and step machines at my local gym. For now, I’m simply aiming to gradually increase these sessions to the 1-hour mark, and get used to training this frequently. Once I achieve this level, I will set more detailed goals.

Training – Other

The third aspect of my training will be flexibility. This is something I’ve never really worked at before, despite knowing I would benefit greatly from a structured flexibility program. At first I aim to simply stretch regularly; my goal for now is three 15-minute sessions every eight days. Once this becomes a regular part of my routine I may set more definite goals, and may consider trying something like Yoga or Pilates.

Diet

Over the next few weeks I’ll simply concentrate on cleaning up and monitoring my diet. I’m not following a specific diet plan per se; rather, I intend to eat whole foods in sensible amounts and ratios. This means plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, lean protein, good sources of fat, whole grain starches, plenty of water etc. I won’t stress out if I occasionally stray and want some processed food, but I will try to limit “bad” foods.

Tracking what I eat is particularly important for two reasons. First, I intend to use the first few weeks to calculate my maintenance caloric needs, so that I can eat the right amounts when I start trying to gain mass. Secondly, in order to keep good control of my diabetes I need to closely track the amount of carbohydrate I ingest, along with my blood glucose levels.

After the first couple of weeks I will probably set definite goals, such as eating a certain amount of fruit, vegetables and protein every day. I will also set caloric goals of course.



Wow, that was a long intro. If anyone read it all, you deserve a gold star. I’ll start my diet posts tomorrow, and should be able to start training later this week when the weights arrive. Until then, any comments, advice or questions would be gratefully received.

Chubrock
09-06-2004, 06:58 AM
Good luck fella. You've got some reasonable goals, and you def. seem to have the organization and knowledge to complete these tasks. If you don't mind me recommending one thing....I'd recommend you switching to Bent Rows as well as doing some sets of Chinups. I've found these have really strengthened my back, but I guess it also just comes down to personal preference.

Aspect
09-08-2004, 02:42 AM
Chubrock

thanks for the support. As far as bent-over rows go, I've always found them an uncomfortable exercise - they annoy my lower back even when I concentrate on good form. My plan is to introduce chins as soon as I'm strong enough (right now I probably couldn't do more than one or two in decent form); I'll probably keep the one-arm rows in as well.

I'll see how this goes, but I think that between deads, chins and one-arm rows my back should get enough exposure.

Thanks again for the comments :).

Aspect
09-08-2004, 02:53 AM
Goal Update

For the first three months (-ish) I’m going to be focusing more on consistency than the amount I can lift or whatever. As mentioned before I haven’t trained much for well over a year, so a slow start is only to be expected. The last time I trained I started slowly and gradually, and made better progress than I had at any point in the past.

I also want to focus on my diet. Primary focus is again on consistency, and on tracking (in order to help with my diabetes control). Caloric intake is less important at first (i.e. I’d rather eat a healthful diet than a large one in the beginning).

My plan is to set three-monthly goals, then to break these down further into monthly or fortnightly goals. I’m hoping this will let me see more easily when something isn’t going right, and will hold me accountable to actually progressing towards my goals, rather than simply saying I am.

At the end of every 2- or 4-week “sub-period” I will assess how I did against the goals (i.e. score myself against them), and use this progress to set the next sub-period's goals. If I do well enough in each sub-period, then the overall three-monthly goals should be reached. I can then set the next period's goals etc.

Goals for Period 1 (09 Sep 04 – 30 Nov 04)

Training-related

Weight train 3 times every 8 days (on days 3, 6 and 8 of my shift rota)
Maintain excellent form on every rep of every set
Do some form of cardio training 4 times every 8 days
Be at the point where I am lifting challenging weights
Stretch at least 3 times every 8 days

Diet-related

Be regularly eating a minimum of 4 pieces of fruit, 5 servings of vegetables, 30g of nuts and/or seeds, and 500g of meat/fish/other lean protein sources every day
Be regularly eating the vast majority (90% or more) of my calories in the form of fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, nuts, seeds, healthful oils, low-fat dairy, and whole grains
Have worked out my maintanance caloric needs, and how many calories I need to gain consistently
Be well on my way to sub-7.5 HbA1C results (if not there already)

Aspect
09-08-2004, 02:54 AM
Goal Update

Goals for Period 1, Sub-Period 1 (09 Sep 04 – 30 Sep 04)

Training-related

Weight train 3 times every 8 days (starting when weights arrive and gym is set up – predicted start date is 10 Sep)
Work primarily on form with light weights, concentrate on form every rep of every set
Do some form of cardio training at least 2 times every 8 days
Stretch after weight training


Diet-related

Get into the habit of shopping regularly enough to have the foods I need available at all times
Get into the habit of planning meals ahead of time, particularly to take to work
Increase protein intake at breakfast (currently eating minimal protein in mornings)
Eat at least 2 pieces of fruit, 2 servings of vegetables and 30g of nuts and/or seeds every day
Monitor eating and blood glucose results closely

Aspect
09-09-2004, 02:35 AM
The weights and other equipment arrived yesterday, earlier than expected. I spent pretty much all of yesterday assembling the power rack (http://www.fitness-superstore.co.uk/product_info_new.asp?event=enlargeimage&img=prd{2A50FE12-D99A-4E85-9233-BC9913FD6201}.jpg) (though I didn't buy the pulley and weight stack shown on that picture) and bench (http://www.fitness-superstore.co.uk/product_info_new.asp?event=enlargeimage&img=prd{D4E58E72-E2AC-4AD3-8463-49BA69A272C7}.jpg), and sorting the garage out. It's pretty much all done, just a couple of trips to the tip to make today (the amount of packaging was amazing).

I must say I'm quite impressed with the equipment; assembly was simple enough that I could build the power rack alone, and the final product is very stable and secure. The bench is actually better than I imagined, and feels very solid - better than the benches I've used at most gyms. The weights are fine - nothing great to look at, but the bar is decent quality and I've enough plates to last me a while (160kg or so, plus 20kg for the bar). And I scored a free exercise bike with the order - it's nothing spectacular, but it'll be useful for a warmup/cooldown if nothing else.

So training should start today. I'll be using incredibly light weights, but hopefully I'll get everything sorted (i.e. which stops I need the safety pins in for each exercise etc.), and I'll be starting to get used to the exercises again.

Can't wait! I'll update later, after the session.

TheGimp
09-09-2004, 05:18 AM
Sounds good. I like your logical and knowledgable style :) Good luck getting back into the game.

Aspect
09-10-2004, 02:45 AM
Training Log - Thursday 9th September 2004

General Comments
Today was my first session in well over a year, with brand new equipment. As such, I spent the session simply setting things up (e.g. determining what height the safety pins should be set at for each exercise, positioning the bench correctly etc.) and practicing technique - I used minimal weights which were not in the least challenging.

Weights
Note: all weights in kilograms


Squats: &#160; &#160; &#160; 30 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 30 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 30 x 10
The main thing that struck me was how inflexible I am. While I am able to squat to parallel, I can feel the tightness in my hamstrings and ankles. This is something I need to work on over the next few weeks and months, before I reach limiting weights.
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Overhead Presses: &#160; &#160; &#160; 20 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 20 x 10
This is the first time I've ever done barbell presses in front of my face; in the past I've always either pressed behind the neck, or used dumbbells. I thought the motion would be unnatural, but it was actually very comfortable; I seemed to find the right groove from the start. The bench I bought is already paying dividends; it is exactly the right length for this exercise, and the incline (about 80&#176;-85&#176; ) feels just right too.
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Deadlifts: &#160; &#160; &#160; 40 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 40 x 10
Felt slightly awkward doing deadlifts. I think this is probably because of the smaller diameter plates, giving me an extended range of motion; this should disappear once I start using 60kg+. My inflexibility is probably contributing too.
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One-arm Dumbbell Rows: &#160; &#160; &#160; 15 x 10/10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 15 x 10/10
These felt fine, nothing remarkable to say about them; they're a pretty unremarkable exercise.
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Bench Presses (from the bottom): &#160; &#160; &#160; 20 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 20 x 10
Yes, that's right - I used the bar only for these. With the way my power rack is set up, it's difficult to get into a position where I can easily rack and unrack the bar for bench presses. I've decided, for now at least, to press from the bottom, so I used today as a chance to try this new exercise and make sure everything was set up correctly.
Pressing from the bottom means that the pins in my rack are set to about half an inch above my chest, and I start the exercise with the bar resting on the pins. After each rep I briefly rest the bar on the pins again.
I'm a naturally poor bench presser (I have very long arms), and in the past I think I've probably cheated by bouncing a little at the bottom. This new form should be more strict and eliminate this cheating. It also feels safer with the pins where they are.
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Crunches: &#160; &#160; &#160; BW x 15 &#160; &#160; &#160; BW x 15
Plain old crunches with lower legs resting on a bench, arms crossed and hands resting on collarbones. I'm concentrating on getting a maximal contraction at the top, on moving slowly throughout the motion, and on keeping my TA engaged as much as possible. Both sets were challenging but achievable; I think I will be slow to add weight on this exercise, but I'm happy to progress slowly but with good form.


Training Comments
As mentioned above, the weights I used today were intentionally very light. The next couple of sessions will probably not be much heavier; I want a gradual buildup to "real" weights so I keep good form, and to give my flexibility a chance to improve. After all, it's just for a few weeks.

No cardio or flexibility training today (though I should have stretched). I'm planning to do both tomorrow.

Diet
Hit and miss today. I had good breakfast (fruit, cottage cheese, seeds), reasonable lunch (chicken, bread, but with some - OK, lots of - mayo) and a great evening meal (300g grilled chicken with herbs, 2 baked sweet potatoes and a raw salad, followed by fruit). However, I also ate a load of chocolate in the afternoon at the pictures.

Overall calories are lower than they'll need to be for me to gain, but right now I'm not worrying about calories. I'm not training hard enough to stimulate much gowth anyway, so during these few weeks of light training I'll focus on the content rather than quantity, and try to determine my maintenance calories.

Aspect
09-10-2004, 02:52 AM
TheGimp

Thanks for the compliments. I've always been logical in the way I think and approach problems, but can be very illogical in other ways (for example, I've known for years how I should eat and train, and the benefits of a healthy lifestyle; the fat it's taken me this long to rectify matters is in itself illogical). I'm hoping that by taking a measured and considered approach to training, it will help motivate me to stick at it long-term.

You'll probably already have noticed, but the layout I use for the journal is essentially stolen from aka23's. I think his is by far the easiest journal to read that I've come across. I also think it's far from coincidental that his very calculated approach has given him such amazing results.

Anyway, thanks for reading and for the support, it's much appreciated.

TheGimp
09-10-2004, 05:59 AM
Your home gym setup sounds pretty sweet :) Where did you get the stuff?

You've got the makings of a great diet there, some excellent food choices.

Yeah, Aka's journal is pretty inspiring, it certainly gave me motivation.

Aspect
09-10-2004, 08:41 AM
Yeah, I'm very impressed with the stuff I bought. I've been wanting to get my home gym set up since we moved into this house 14 months ago, but it's taken until now for me to save the money (new houses are a pain for eating up spare money, and weddings are even worse).

I bought the stuff from Body Power sports ( http://www.fitness-superstore.co.uk ); a friend had bought from them in the past and been happy with the service, and they offer free delivery so it was a pretty convenient choice. I ordered it last Thursday night and took delivery this Wednesday, so all in all I'm very pleased. Just a couple of odds and ends left to buy (e.g. a weight tree), then I'm all set.

I'm hoping my diet shouldn't be too difficult to get in order. I like a wide variety of healthy foods, so I won't have to force myself to eat anything I don't enjoy. The main thing I need to overcome is my laziness (or disorganisation); I really need to get into the habit of having good foods available, and taking the time to prepare food to take to work. My love of chocolate might hinder me too I guess :(. But I'll stick with it; my wife's supportive of my training, and I do the majority of the cooking anyway so I haven't really got any excuses diet-wise.

TheGimp
09-10-2004, 01:47 PM
Looks like a great site, thanks for the link. I've got my eye on their £350 bumper olympic weight set :)

Aspect
09-11-2004, 12:44 PM
Training Log – Friday 10th September 2004

Cardio
I did 28 minutes on the elliptical trainer on a hill program at level 7. This is the setting I typically use for this machine. I programmed a longer time period into the machine, so that the final minutes were not at the “cooldown” level (I prefer to cool down on a separate machine, and on the walk back home).

I found today more difficult than normal, and my pace was below average (typically <70 RPM, dropping to ~63 RPM on the highest difficulties; I can normally keep the pace above 70 RPM, dropping to ~67 at the hard points). The gym was exceptionally hot today; there is no air conditioning, only two floor fans which cannot cope on warm days. The gym was very crowded, so the atmosphere was both hot and humid. In addition, I forgot my water bottle so had only a 200ml cup of water.

There were a lot of unsupervised children (10-12 years old) in the gym today, “playing” with the machines rather than training; I saw two of them bump into people lifting weights at different times. I’m surprised the gym allows this, as it’s obviously dangerous. It made me even more glad to have my own weights available at home.

No stretching again either - I hadn't time after the cardio, and found excuses for the rest of the day. Not good!

Diet
Today's diet was OK, nothing special. Breakfast was good: "Museli" (a home-made mixture of oats, bran, cashews, almonds, walnuts, sultanas and dried apricot) with milk and a banana. Lunch wasn't so hot though, as I was slightly hypoglycemic when I ate; so my chicken sandwich was followed by chocolate :(. Dinner was decent; a large raw salad with goat's cheese and baked potato. However, I then scoffed three cookies in the evening (damn relatives being too generous and plying me with treats).

Over the last week and a half (starting before this journal began) I've tracked my blood glucose quite well, and am very happy with this. The next step is to track my diet more closely and work out caloric intakes and macronutrient breakdown. This will be a little extra work (mainly from weighing things etc.), but after a week or so I should have a good idea of the content of most foods I typcially eat. I expect to find that I'm eating less protein than I'll eventually need to, and that I'm probably eating more "junk" than I realise, but again I'm not worried about that yet - this phase is all about gathering information.

Aspect
09-11-2004, 01:00 PM
For some reason I was reminded today of an anecdote I read somewhere recently. When I first read it I found it quite thought-provoking and motivating, so I thought I'd record it here for future reference. I tend to find it helpful to regularly read things that motivate me.

Anyway, this anecdote was about a guy whose wife was a professional musician. One day after hearing her play he said to her "I'd love to be able to play the sax as well as you can." And she replied, laughing: "obviously not well enough to learn how."

Now I often say similar things - wishing I had a body like a picture I see, or accomplish some great feat I read about. Lots of people do. That anecdote reminds me that if I really want something, I can get it - I just have to put the work in. It's a reminder that our goals, by and large, are achievable, and perseverance can let us reach them; we just have to be honest with ourselves about how much we really want them, and what we're willing to put in to getting them.

Aspect
09-13-2004, 05:05 AM
TheGimp

Sorry, I missed your last post. The bumper set looks good doesn’t it? I imagine it would be great for your Olympic lifting, though I don’t know how suitable the bar would be (I don’t know whether you need a flexible bar for training all the time, or what – my knowledge of oly lifting is poor).

Aspect
09-13-2004, 05:08 AM
Training Log – Sunday 12th September 2004

Weights
Note: all weights in kilograms

Squats: &#160; &#160; &#160; 40 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 40 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 40 x 10
My knees clicked on every single rep today, which was quite unpleasant to hear. However there is no pain associated with the clicking, and I believe it is simply a matter of getting used to the exercise and improving my flexibility. The weight felt quite comfortable and I was happy with my form.
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Overhead Presses: &#160; &#160; &#160; 25 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 25 x 10
Again I found these easy to perform in terms of technique. Even though the weight is very light, the last couple of reps on the second set gave me a slight burn in my shoulders.
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Deadlifts: &#160; &#160; &#160; 40 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160;40 x 10
I stayed with the same weight as last week, and the exercise felt more comfortable today – I imagine my form must have been better. Next week I’ll increase to 50kg, then probably to 60; after this, I’ll slow the rate of increase down.
&#160;
One-arm Dumbbell Rows: &#160; &#160; &#160; 15 x 10/10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 15 x 10/10
Again I stayed with the same weight, and again these felt comfortable; I’ll increase the weight next session.
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Bench Presses (from the bottom): &#160; &#160; &#160;40 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160;40 x 10
I’ve always struggled with the bench press, and it has always lagged behind my other lifts. I was surprised at how difficult I found these presses; the second set in particular was far harder that I expected. I will stay with this weight for another session or two, and when I increase the weight it will be slowly.
I am also finding pressing from a pause at the bottom makes a big difference, which is probably evidence that I’ve always cheated in the past and bounced the bar off my chest.
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Crunches: &#160; &#160; &#160; BW x 15 &#160; &#160; &#160; BW x 15
These were fine; I kept my form tight throughout the two sets.


Training Comments
I managed a very brief stretching session today, but it was so short as to be virtually useless. The weights session was good, though I was surprised at how difficult some of the exercises were with such low weights. Still, this is why I had planned a slow build-up, so I will just have to be patient.

Diet
Today’s diet was excellent. I had a banana as soon as I woke up, then had a breakfast of my homemade muesli and milk with another banana, and two boiled eggs. Lunch was 250g of grilled tuna steak, 3 slices of whole grain bread, and a raw salad. I drank some orange juice and some milk in the afternoon, and for dinner had homemade chilli (made with very lean mince) with a sweet potato. Supper was 200g of cottage cheese and 2 slices of granary bread.

I also had 4 pints of Stella in the evening, which isn’t exactly in the diet plan. However, I drink beer on average twice per month, so I’m not at all concerned with this.

Yesterday’s (Sat 11th) diet was almost the exact opposite. Poor planning meant I arrived at work having had no breakfast and with no food on me, so I had to eat what my colleagues did (I couldn’t leave the office so just ate what they brought me back from the shops) – meaning a fatty bacon sandwich and orange juice for breakfast, chicken mayo sandwich and chocolate bar for lunch. I arrived home to find my wife hadn’t made it back yet, so there was no food in the house and the shops were shut; hence a Chinese take-away. A belated apple in the evening hardly made up for the cack I’d eaten throughout the day.

Chubrock
09-13-2004, 09:29 AM
I like your idea of pressing from the bottom. There for a couple of weeks I was doing push presses and liked how they felt. Pushing from the bottom should really help with your overall bench. Good stuff in here buddy.

Aspect
09-15-2004, 03:04 AM
Training Log – Monday 13th September 2004

Cardio
I did 20 minutes on the elliptical trainer on a hill program at level 7. This is the setting I typically use for this machine. I programmed a longer time period into the machine, so that the final minutes were not at the “cooldown” level. I followed this with 10 minutes on the step climber, on a random program at level 9.

I found today difficult, and was slower than normal. I felt tired throughout the workout, and my heart rate was elevated at all times. In addition, this session took place in the afternoon of my first night shift, so I did not want to train too hard as I had a 14-hour shift to work afterwards.

I also stretched for 10 minutes after training, concentrating on my legs and hips. Saying I’m inflexible is something of an understatement…


Diet
On the whole today’s diet was OK; lots of good food, but too much cack too. I had some fruit for breakfast then a large bowl of muesli with more fruit for lunch. I had some Lucozade Sport during my cardio (more to prevent hypoglycaemia than for any athletic benefits), then some orange juice afterwards. At around 5pm I had a crayfish & salad sandwich (with mayo) and some chocolate – not so good there. During the nightshift itself I ate variously a large raw salad with goat’s cheese, a large bowl of homemade chilli, two granary rolls, a bunch of grapes, an “Eat Natural” bar, and… urm... a bag of chips.

This is the first time for ages that I’ve bothered to take “real” food in for my nightshift (rather than ready meals etc.), and I think I’m on to a winner. I lapsed a little with the chips, but normally I’d have a full-blown takeaway and a salt-laden ready meal so it’s a big improvement. Of course, there’s plenty of room for further changes, which I’ll make on my next bank of shifts.

Aspect
09-15-2004, 03:05 AM
Chubrock

Yes, although benching from the bottom feels quite difficult, I have no doubt it will improve my form greatly. I'm far more concerned with using good form than with lifting big weights, so they suit me very well.

Thanks for the support too, it's appreciated!

Aspect
09-16-2004, 02:11 PM
Training Log – Thursday 16th September 2004

Weights
Note: all weights in kilograms

Squats: &#160; &#160; &#160; 45 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 45 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 45 x 10
My knees felt better this session than last time. The weight felt comfortable and I believe I went to parallel on every rep.
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Overhead Presses: &#160; &#160; &#160; 27.5 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 27.5 x 10
As last time, the final reps on the second set gave me a slight burn in the shoulders. Form felt fine again.
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Deadlifts: &#160; &#160; &#160; 50 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 50 x 10
These felt a little more under control than last session. Next session I will increase the weight to 60kg; the full-size plates should make the bottom of the exercise more comfortable.
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One-arm Dumbbell Rows: &#160; &#160; &#160; 17.5 x 10/10 &#160; &#160; &#160;17.5 x 10/10
I slightly increased the weight this week, and they still felt good. The dumbbell tipped slightly on one set; I should take more care to grip the dumbbell centrally.
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Bench Presses (from the bottom): &#160; &#160; &#160; 40 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160;40 x 10
Like last session, these felt difficult towards the end of both sets. They were probably slightly easier than last session, but there’s not much in it. I may stay at this weight again next session, or may increment to 42.5.
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Crunches: &#160; &#160; &#160; BW x 15 &#160; &#160; &#160;BW x 15
Nothing much to say, they still feel fine.


Training Comments
I did a good 15 minutes stretching after the weights, which I’m pleased about. I focussed mainly on my lower body, in particular hamstrings and groin as this is where I’m most limited. I aim to do at least this amount of stretching after every weight session.

Diet
Today’s diet was fine, though a little light on calories. I only woke up at midday (I often sleep in after my two night shifts), so I missed at least one meal. I ate some yoghurt first thing, then a bowl of muesli with raspberries an hour later. Dinner was 200g grilled chicken, 100g pasta, some homemade tomato sauce (basically just tomatoes with a little garlic and basil), 100g broccoli and a glass of wine. I had a banana after my workout, and will have some cheese, crackers and fruit for supper.

My diet on Tuesday and Wednesday was also fine. On my Tuesday night shift I ate variously 2 pears, some grapes, a bowl of homemade chilli, 2 granary rolls, a raw salad with 300g grilled chicken, 2 Eat Natural bars and… urm… another bag of chips. Ooops.

On Wednesday I went to bed straight after my shift (well, and after browsing on here for a bit too...), and got up at 4:30 pm. I ate 200g cottage cheese and a sweet potato for dinner, then some grapes and an Eat Natural bar for supper.

TheGimp
09-17-2004, 03:36 AM
Good work, especially on the stretching. That's something I should probably make more of an effort in. I used to do martial arts and was stretching on a regular basis but I kinda fell out of the routine. I'm sure the flexibility would be good for my olympic lifting. But like you mentioned in your story, if I really wanted it, I'd do it :D

The bar for the olympic set seemed to be rated up to a suitable number of kilograms (exact value escapes me). I am unsure whether bars in general bend like that or whether they are special.

Aspect
09-17-2004, 06:52 AM
Yeah, I used to do some martial arts in the dim and distant past, and was reasonably flexible back then; that was years ago though, and now I look like a 90-year-old when I stretch :(. Still, I guess that means I can make great improvements, right...?

The bar in that set is identical to the one in the set I bought. As you say it's rated to a good weight (320kg I believe), so no worries there unless you get stupidly strong. But it's not flexible in the way that, say, an Eleiko Olympic bar would be. But as I say, I don't know how much difference that makes - I imagine that when you progress to a high standard it will matter a great deal, but for your training now it probably matters a lot less.

Good job on your own training by the way; I haven't posted on your journal yet as I've not read it all, but I can see you're making good progress, so well done.

Aspect
09-19-2004, 02:07 AM
Training Log - Friday 17th September 2004

Cardio
I did 25 minutes on the elliptical trainer on a hill program at level 7. This is the setting I typically use for this machine. I programmed a longer time period into the machine, so that the final minutes were not at the “cooldown” level.

I managed to maintain my normal pace today, though it felt quite difficult; I did not feel able to continue at that pace any longer than the 25 minutes.

About 1 hour after this session, I went for an easy 30 minute run with my wife. This was at a very slow pace (approx. 10-11 minutes per mile), with around 6-8 minutes slightly faster in the middle (8-9 minutes per mile). We also took 3 short walk breaks (less than a minute each).

I stretched a little after the jog, but not as much as I should have.

Diet

My diet was good today. I had my normal museli and banana for breakfast, along with some yoghurt. Lunch was 200g grilled tuna steak with a rocket and tomato salad, 3 slices of seed bread and a little olive oil. I had a bottle of Lucozade Sport during my cardio, and 350ml of milk (semi-skim) after my run. Dinner was 350g baked salmon, 300g new potatoes with a little butter, and a salad with a little olive oil. I had a bunch of grapes and some cheese with crackers and a glass of wine in the evening. Yum.

I haven't mentioned water during my journal; I always drink plenty (minimum two liters, often more) on top of anything else I drink. However, I also have a Diet Pepsi addiction, and definitely need to start cutting down (I don't drink it every day, but when I do - usually on night shifts - I can easily drink a couple of liters).

Aspect
09-19-2004, 12:51 PM
Training Log - Sunday 19th September 2004

Weights
Note: all weights in kilograms


Squats: &#160; &#160; &#160; 50 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 50 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 50 x 10
My knees felt better again today; they clicked perhaps twice, and there was absolutely no discomfort. Again I had good depth on every rep, and good control throughout.
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Overhead Presses: &#160; &#160; &#160; 30 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 30 x 10
As in previous weeks my form was good throughout both sets. The final set felt somewhat difficult towards the end; I could certainly have done more reps or a heavier weight, but I will soon be using weights that are an actual challenge.
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Deadlifts: &#160; &#160; &#160; 60 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 60 x 10
My form felt stronger today than in previous weeks. I think this is partly due to using full-size discs at last, and probably simply that I am getting used to the exercise again. Neither set was a struggle so I feel I can progress at this rate (10 kilos per session) for another session or two.
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One-arm Dumbbell Rows: &#160; &#160; &#160; 17.5 x 10/10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 17.5 x 10/10
I stayed at last session's weight and again these felt good. I will increase the weight to 20kg next session.
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Bench Presses (from the bottom): &#160; &#160; &#160; 40 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 40 x 10
My form was slightly improved over last week, and the final reps were less difficult. I am still tempted to have one more session at this weight before increasing, to make sure my form is solid.
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Crunches: &#160; &#160; &#160; BW x 15 &#160; &#160; &#160; BW x 15
These were fine, but I need to concentrate on getting a maximal contraction out of every single rep. It is easy to omit the final half-inch of the movement and cut reps short, but of course this is short-changing myself of the benefits of the exercise


Training Comments
I trained a day later than I ideally would have, because yesterday I was somewhat stiff and I had a busy day. I knew that I'd have time to train today, so decided to defer training. This hasn't really interfered with my routine; my next planned session was Tuesday, and I will still be able to train then.

Didn't have time to stertch directly after training, but I will stretch later tonight.

Something that occured to me today is that I've chosen 10 reps for all my exercises except crunches, which is 15. This wasn't really a conscious decision, as I know abs need to be trained in the same manner as other muscles; I guess I must just prefer slightly more reps for abs.

Diet
Hmm. Yesterday's diet was utterly appalling. I was out with my wife for the day, so ate what her family gave me for most of the day - this turned out to be chips at lunch time and a Chinese takeaway at night (though at least I went for boiled rice and black-bean chicken). I also had a beef sandwich with salad and some fruit. Oh yeah, and a pork pie :(.

Today wasn't much better. Some fruit, three boiled eggs and a bacon sandwich (visible fat removed, granary bread, no butter) wasn't too bad a breakfast, and my dinner was 350g pork, a couple of potatoes, and a parsnip cooked with olive oil, followed by a pear. But I went to the pictures with my wife and ate most of a bag of Minstrels by myself :(. I'll eat some more fruit, and probably have some milk, later tonight.

I'm not too concerned at the moment about these poor days; I'm only in the process of improving my diet, and fully expect to have occasional "lapses." What it's brought home is that I need to make most of my days as good as I can. Occasional junk days are fine in a diet that's largely excellent; I have the feeling that occasional junk days in a diet that's only so-so will be a totally different story.

Aspect
09-22-2004, 07:49 AM
Training Log - Wednesday 22nd September 2004

Weights
Note: all weights in kilograms


Squats: &#160; &#160; &#160; 55 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 55 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 55 x 10
Nothing much to say about these; they felt fine, depth was good. I think my form is good, but I'll hopefully be able to check it in future (see below).
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Overhead Presses: &#160; &#160; &#160; 32.5 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 32.5 x 10
The final two reps of the second set were hard, although I think I maintained good form. I will stay at this weight next session.
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Deadlifts: &#160; &#160; &#160; 70 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 70 x 10
These were fairly comfortable; my forearms were a little tired towards the end, but not too bad overall. I'm currently using a pronated grip, but will switch to a mixed grip when the weight gets heavier.
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One-arm Dumbbell Rows: &#160; &#160; &#160; 20 x 10/10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 20 x 10/10
I made a conscious effort to slow down on the descent with this exercise, and to keep my upper back stable at the bottom point (I realised that I had been "stretching" my lat at the bottom, allowing my arm to hang rather than being in control throughout the exercise). They felt a little better with this improved focus on form.
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Bench Presses (from the bottom): &#160; &#160; &#160; 42.5 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 42.5 x 10
I decided to increase the weight, though I will stay at this weight next week. My form was alright, but could have been better; while I didn't bounce at the bottom of the rep, I could have had a more deliberate pause and slower cadence overall.
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Crunches: &#160; &#160; &#160; BW x 15 &#160; &#160; &#160; BW x 15
Nothing to say really, these were fine.


Training Comments
The main thing I need to focus on is cadence. I think I'm moving slightly too fast on several exercises; particularly bench presses but also OHP, rows and squats. I need to concentrate on this next session (or for the next few sessions) and get it right now, while I'm still using light weights.

Sometime in the next few sessions I plan to either video myself or take photos in order to check my form. I'll have to do this myself using a digital camera, so the results may not be too great, but hopefully it should be enough to pick up any real form problems.

Diet
I'll comment on today's diet in a future entry, as I'm posting this at lunch time and I have a full day ahead of me. It's been OK so far though.

The last two days have been bad. Yesterday was the anniversary of my father's birthday, and I was fairly depressed (he died on my own birthday a couple of years ago, and I always feel down on that day and on his birthday). As a consequence I reverted to eating badly. I know eating junk doesn't actually help, but that's the way I reacted. Comfort eating is a phenomenon that defies logic; I know from experience that I actually feel better when I eat healthy, nutritious food, yet I reach for chocolate or fatty foods instead.

The positive side is that, while I'm not exactly shouting from the rooftops with joy today, I've at least been able to disassociate my feelings from my diet (which I should have done all along of course). In the past, a blip like this would have derailed me for days if not weeks; this time, I've been able to just accept the fact that I had a blip and ate badly, but that it's over now. No point in being pissed at myself, so I'll just accept it happened, bear the experience in mind for the future, and just get on with getting on.


Anyway, night shift tonight then a few days off, so training and diet should get back on track.

Aspect
09-22-2004, 08:06 AM
Interim Goal Update - Wednesday 22nd September 2004

Update for Period 1, Sub-Period 1 (09 Sep 04 – 30 Sep 04)

Training-related

Weight train 3 times every 8 days (starting when weights arrive and gym is set up – predicted start date is 10 Sep)
5/5 - Haven't missed a weights session yet, and still well motivated.
Work primarily on form with light weights, concentrate on form every rep of every set
4/5 - I've stuck to sensible weights, and focussed on form most of the time. Need to make sure I concentrate on every rep and don't let my mind wander at all.
Do some form of cardio training at least 2 times every 8 days
5/5 - Again, haven't missed a cardio session. While my performance has decreased since before my honeymoon, I'm not too concerned about this just yet.
Stretch after weight training
2/5 - I've stretched a handful of times, but nowhere near regularly enough. I need to stop skipping stetches; if I can't do them after training, I can find 15 minutes some other time (even sat watching TV).


Diet-related

Get into the habit of shopping regularly enough to have the foods I need available at all times
3/5 - I'm getting better, but a couple of times I've been without decent food in the house. Need to do better; even stocking the freezer properly and thinking ahead to defrost meat would be an improvment.
Get into the habit of planning meals ahead of time, particularly to take to work
3/5 - Not perfect yet, but I've done a lot better with food at work and in general. Still room for improvement, but I'm on the right lines.
Increase protein intake at breakfast (currently eating minimal protein in mornings)
2/5 - Occasionally eating protein-rich foods at breakfast (cottage cheese, eggs etc.), but not regularly. If I eat museli and drink milk the odd day that's one thing, but I need to cultivate the habit of eating a "real" protein source most if not all days.
Eat at least 2 pieces of fruit, 2 servings of vegetables and 30g of nuts and/or seeds every day
5/5 - I think I've met this goal every day bar one (when I was light on the veg). I'm getting back into the habit of eating raw salads and snacking on fruit, and the nuts and seeds are no problem.
Monitor eating and blood glucose results closely
4/5 - I've been monitoring my blood pretty well, though there's room for improvement - hopefully this will improve as I get into the habit of monitoring and recording.


Comments
The obvious areas I need to conentrate on are stretching, forward planning of food (particularly in simply making the right foods available), and establishing the habit of eating some protein at breakfast. I should concentrate on this for the rest of the month.

TheGimp
09-22-2004, 04:28 PM
Very cool summary, very inspirational the way you are improving one step at a time... things are looking mostly green and I look forward to hearing about your progress in those that aren't :thumbup:

Aspect
09-23-2004, 12:50 PM
Training Log - Thursday 23rd September 2004

Cardio
Once again I did 25 minutes on the elliptical trainer on a hill program at level 7. This is the setting I typically use for this machine. I programmed a longer time period into the machine, so that the final minutes were not at the “cooldown” level.

I managed to maintain my normal pace today, though like last week it felt quite difficult; I did not feel able to continue at that pace any longer than the 25 minutes.

Diet
Moderate today - not enough fruit (will eat some more before bed), barely enough veg, decent amount of protein but too much processed carbs. Bleh.

Aspect
09-23-2004, 12:54 PM
Gimp, thanks - I'm hoping that by actually writing stuff down every 2 weeks or so, I will

a) stop and think about what I'm doing, hopefully leading to
b) positive reinforcement where I'm doing well, and accountability for the things I'm not doing well, meaning I should
c) actually make positive changes where I need to. And of course
d) this should all be useful in the future when I can look back over several months' worth of data and correlate my progress against my adherence to my goals.

That's the theory anyway - time will tell I suppose. And I just re-read that and realise I sound like some kind of goofy self-help nut, which I'm not at all - I'm just a really bad (or really good) procrastinator, and writing this stuff down will hopefully help keep me on track.

Aspect
09-25-2004, 12:38 PM
Training Log - Friday 24th September 2004

Weights
Note: all weights in kilograms


Squats: &#160; &#160; &#160; 60 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 60 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 60 x 10
It felt good to finally use "real" plates on squats, even if it's only the one pair. My form was good, and my knees didn't bother me in the slightest. My wife checked me on a couple of reps and said I was going to at least parallel, perhaps an inch below.
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Overhead Presses: &#160; &#160; &#160; 32.5 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 32.5 x 10
These felt harder than last session, though it was the same weight. My anterior deltoids were burning towards the end of the set.
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Deadlifts: &#160; &#160; &#160; 70 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 70 x 10
I need to focus on maintaining the arch in my back in every rep. At the bottom of the final two reps of my first set I let my back round slightly, and while I didn't hurt myself this time I don't want to risk it. Both sets were more difficult than previous weeks, but not really a struggle. I will probably only increment by 5kg in future sessions, and will swap to a mixed grip soon.
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One-arm Dumbbell Rows: &#160; &#160; &#160; 20 x 10/10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 20 x 10/10
I stayed at the same weight as last time and concentrated on slowing down slightly and keeping good form. I will increase the weight next session.
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Bench Presses (from the bottom): &#160; &#160; &#160; 42.5 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 42.5 x 10
I made sure I had a more deliberate pause after each rep than last week, which allowed me to keep my form tighter.
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Crunches: &#160; &#160; &#160; 2.5 x 15 &#160; &#160; &#160; 2.5 x 15
I used a little weight for the first time today, while still trying to make sure I had full contraction at the top of every rep. It was surprising how much difference such a light weight made. I will be slow to increment weight on this exercise.


Training Comments
I'm pleased with my form in general today (though I need to maintain concentration at all times). Not much more to say really, things are ticking along nicely - another month or two and I should be lifting challenging weights.

Diet
I didn't eat enough this morning, but have been shopping and stocked up on good food. I had pretty much all my fruit and veg in the evening (grilled tuna, boiled new potatoes, a large salad and a couple of pieces of fruit as dessert). If there'd been more in the house I'd have eaten better throughout the day; again this comes back to being prepared and thinking ahead.

Aspect
09-25-2004, 12:43 PM
Training Log - Saturday 25th September 2004

Cardio
I did 32 minutes on the elliptical trainer on a hill program at level 7. This is the setting I typically use for this machine. I programmed a longer time period into the machine, so that the final minutes were not at the “cooldown” level.

I managed to maintain my normal pace today, and it felt easier than last week. There was a period of a few minutes towards the end of the session where it felt easy to maintain a faster than normal pace; this is the first time I've felt this since before my wedding and the ensuing month-long break.

Diet
As always, I eat better when there's decent food in the house. So today I've had museli, a banana, yoghurt, orange juice, grilled salmon, potatoes, salad, a nut bar and a bacon sandwich (granary bread, no butter). I'll eat a little more fruit, possibly some cheese, and have some milk later tonight.

I also had two bottles of Lucozade Sport - one to counteract a hypo at around 1pm, and another during my cardio session.

Aspect
09-29-2004, 07:38 AM
Training Log - Wednesday 29th September 2004

General Comments
According to my schedule I should have lifted on Sunday or Monday. However, my quads were very sore near my hips. The pain wasn't DOMS, it felt more as if I'd sustained a minor injury. I decided to miss the weights, and concentrated on some very gentle mobility and flexibility exercises instead. The pain lessened within 24 hours and hasn't come back, so I felt fine to train today.

Weights
Note: all weights in kilograms.


Squats: &#160; &#160; &#160; 65 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 65 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 65 x 10
My form was very good on the second and third sets; I concentrated on maintaining form in my lower back on these sets, and it made a great difference. The weight felt no more challenging than previous sessions. I need to work on flexibility in my shoulders; getting under the bar felt uncomfortable today.
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Overhead Presses: &#160; &#160; &#160; 35 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 35 x 10
As in previous sessions the final reps of the second set were quite difficult, though I was in no doubt I'd complete all reps. Again my form felt good. I will repeat this weight next session.
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Deadlifts: &#160; &#160; &#160; 75 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 75 x 10
Focussing on keeping my lower back arched made a big difference today; I need to continue doing this. I will increment by another 5kg next week, and may switch to a mixed grip.
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One-arm Dumbbell Rows: &#160; &#160; &#160; 22.5 x 10/10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 22.5 x 10/10
The final reps of the second set were quite challenging, though I completed all reps with good form. I will probably stay at this weight for the next session or two.
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Bench Presses (from the bottom): &#160; &#160; &#160; 45 x 10 &#160; &#160; &#160; 45 x 10
These felt no harder than last week's 42.5's, despite taking a little longer to perform the reps and making sure there was no bouncing at the bottom, which I was pleased with. My hands were slipping slightly on the second set; I need to buy some chalk.
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Crunches: &#160; &#160; &#160; 2.5 x 15 &#160; &#160; &#160; 2.5 x 15
Nothing to say really, these were fine.


Training Comments
I'm starting to fell more comfortable with most exercises, which is good; part of the reason for starting light and building up was to develop a good "groove" so that when I strt to lift heavier, I've got the form ingrained. I increased most weights today and they felt no harder than last session. I will continur to slowly increase the weights; at my current rate, I should be lifting "challenging" weights in all lifts by November.

Diet
My diet has been reasonable over the past few days. I trip to the cinema on Saturday meant I ate far too much chocolate, but on the whole I've done well; I've taken decent food in to work, eaten a fair bit of fruit and veg etc. Today's started well, with some museli, a couple of bananas, and some milk. I've cooked some chicken which I'll take to work tonight along with a salad, some nuts and a load of fruit, and probably some homemade chilli for an evening meal.

I've also recently bought a new wok, so I'll be able to vary my diet a little more by adding Chinese / Thai / Vietnamese foods. I'll have a go at cooking with raw ingredients rather than using packet sauces etc., so I should be able to keep it all nice and healthy.

I haven't tracked my calories perfectly so far, but my best estimate is that I need somewhere around 2700-2900 for maintenance. I am planning to increase my eating in October to somewhere around 3100-3300 to see whether that's enough to give me a slow gain. I will cover this more in my next goal update, but I'm already thinking about changes I need to make in order to guarantee my intake virtually every day (at present my eating is too variable).

Aspect
10-04-2004, 06:40 AM
Goal Update - 4th October 2004

Update for Period 1, Sub-Period 1 (09 Sep 04 – 30 Sep 04)

Training-related

Weight train 3 times every 8 days (starting when weights arrive and gym is set up – predicted start date is 10 Sep)
4/5 - I have intentionally missed 2 sessions when I've felt sore / injured. Motivation is still good.
Work primarily on form with light weights, concentrate on form every rep of every set
5/5 - I've kept to a steady weight progression, and am currently focussing well.
Do some form of cardio training at least 2 times every 8 days
4/5 - Again, I've missed 2 cardio sessions to facilitate recovery, but remain motivated.
Stretch after weight training
2/5 - Stretching is still something I omit more often than I should. I've felt some benefit when I've stretched, but need to make sure I do it more regularly.


Diet-related

Get into the habit of shopping regularly enough to have the foods I need available at all times
4/5 - The one area I need to improve on is restocking on fresh produce when we start to run out.
Get into the habit of planning meals ahead of time, particularly to take to work
4/5 - Getting better. Recently my main stumbling block has been on days after my night shifts, where I've had a very long lie in; it means I miss at least one meal.
Increase protein intake at breakfast (currently eating minimal protein in mornings)
2/5 - Still not eating protein at breakfast regularly. However, I've changed my perspective a little, and this goal isn't actually as important as I'd originally thought. I can still easily meet my protein requirements without meeting this goal.
Eat at least 2 pieces of fruit, 2 servings of vegetables and 30g of nuts and/or seeds every day
4/5 - I'm doing this almost every day; those days I fail to meet this goal is due to not buying fresh produce often enough.
Monitor eating and blood glucose results closely
4/5 - Still room for improvement, particularly of late; I've slipped a little into my old habits, and need to make a point of improving my monitoring


Comments
Overall I'm happy with my progress so far, though there are obvious areas where improvement is needed. My main concern is that these are the same areas I identified two weeks ago; I obviously haven't learned from the previous analysis.

Aspect
10-04-2004, 06:51 AM
Goal Update

Goals for Period 1, Sub-Period 2 (04 Oct - 31 Oct)

Training-related

Continue to train 3 times every 8 days.
Continue to increase weights progressively and with good form.
Establish a habit of stretching as often as possible; after weights, in front of the TV, whenever.
Do some form of cardio 3 times every 8 days.


Diet-related

Continue my habits of forward planning and regular shopping.
Eat at least 3 pieces of fruit, 3 servings of vegetables, 30g of nuts and seeds and 300g of meat/fish/other lean protein sources every day.
Eat an average of 2900-3200 calories per day.
Get on average 80%+ of my calories from "good" sources.
Monitor blood glucose and food intake regularly. Also monitor weight changes over the month, thus enabling me to calculate my maintenance caloric needs more accurately.


Comments
I've taken out the goal of increasing morning protein intake. I naturally eat quite a lot of meat and fish, and a reasonable amount of milk, nuts and seeds. On reflection I don't think my protein intake is a worry. If I find it seems low after this period (where I will be monitoring intake) I will reassess.

I have also revised my original Sep-Nov goals. 4 cardio sessions every 8 days is probably unrealistic while I'm working night shifts, as it would require a two-session day once per shift. I don't think this would be of much use to me at my current level of fitness. I will therefore be aiming for 3 sessions per 8 days instead.