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I Am The Warrior

The time has come, the Walrus said, to beat my ass into shape. The past week or two have been anything but strict. So many delicious cheat meals and snacks found their way back into my routine, a beer here, a Reese’s peanut butter egg there, that my poor GI tract has is an allergic mess and my asthma has re-emerged from its Paleo prison, stronger than ever. Not the best spot to be in when I have a big physical challenge on the horizon.

As of today, I have 6 days until my triumphant return to Warrior Dash, a 3.5 mile obstacle course of climbing ropes, wading through waist-deep water, running, and jumping over fire. Powerlifting can go on the backburner for a while. I’m trying to get lean and mean. Or maybe just mean.

My diet, of course, has to stay in line with this, and if we’re talking about optimizing performance, that means a lot of sweet potatoes and a lot of quality sleep, two things I have had a hard time committing to recently. What about the workouts? I’ve been mixing it up over the past week with an indoor rock-climbing session (much harder than expected), some bear complexes, a lot of walking, some sprints, even jogging a 5K (the worst of all the workouts, quite honestly.)

I even dug through the CrossFit archives to come up with this one – The Crazy 25’s:

For time:
25 dead-hang pullups with 25 pounds of weight
25 dips with 25 pounds of weight
Break them up however you’d like. Don’t let the 25 lbs of weight (on a vest, belt, etc.) touch the ground.

I was giddy. It took me 13:02, only because some guy was hogging the dip bars to do (sigh) reverse abdominal crunches. Grrr. And then the next day I went to an indoor rock wall and wrenched my shoulder. This has happened to me before. Lesson: when you’re doing pullups of any sort, you *have* to let your arm extend all the way at the bottom. Don’t bent-arm/half-rep it, or your biceps tendon is getting way too much strain on it.

So for the next week, here’s my plan: Coffee, quick running workout (maybe), breakfast (eggs and bacon, with sweet potatoes if I work out). Coffee, lunch (low in starches, high in fat), nap. Coffee, workout again, big dinner (heavy on the starches here, a concept called carb backloading – eat most of your carbs after an afternoon workout so they can shuttle to your muscles ‘under the radar’ without raising insulin levels).

Last year, when I was a good 25 pounds lighter, I had no worries about speeding through and finishing Warrior Dash. Now, with a lot more strength but a lot less endurance, I’d just like to get through the dash looking pretty and not wheezing up a storm. I’m wearing a kilt, she’s wearing a tutu, and we’re both on the hunt for cobalt-blue body paint.

Over the past two months, since weaning off my strict Paleo diet and adding in some dairy, some rice, and a lot of sugar (relatively), I’ve learned a couple lessons. One, no matter how great my exercise program is, my body fat is probably not going to drop unless I tighten up what I eat. There, of course, has to be a balance between the fun of having a couple drinks with my girlfriend or my other friends and the extra pounds they can pack on if it gets out of hand. Going from 80% strict to 100% strict is hard, but going from 50-60% to 80% may be even tougher, especially when one has lots of cheese and chocolate and bourbon at home.

Second lesson: Structure is key. Since the end of January, I’ve felt a little out-of-control with not having food prepared in advance, having an empty pantry on occasion, relying on mostly-Paleo-friendly take-out for a couple lunches a week. I’m at a loss for what to do exercise- and training-wise for the next few months, but the most sustainable and fun option would be:

– Eating with the Perfect Health Diet (minimizing the amount of ‘borderline’ foods I eat, such as the ones above), and saving starches for after my workouts.
– Lifestyle with the Primal Blueprint approach. Lots of sleep, sun, and sex.
– Weightlifting with reverse pyramid training (the most effective program I’ve found so far to get strong and build muscle).
– Conditioning with uphill sprints whenever I find time, but ideally twice a week, first thing in the morning.
– Walking as much as I can.

(Some of this may go out the window on my birthday weekend in New Orleans, but we’re not thinking about that yet. Laissez les bon temps rouler.)

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