Fitness goals

Since it's been a while since I wrote anything on this blog, I thought I might share my current fitness goals with all of you. I am a strong believer in expressing your goals to as many people as you can -- your friends can be a great source of motivation and they will be a lot more accommodating of your efforts to achieve them.

As some of you might know, last year I struggled with severe cubital tunnel syndrome on both hands for close to 5 months, during which I had to completely stop all resistance training and cardio. Apart from the occasional stint on the elliptic trainer, I had a mostly sedentary life. I tried to keep my diet in check, but my weight slowly rose from ~170lb in November '15 to 181 lb in May '16. 

With my cubital issues resolved, I restarted weight training and cardio in mid-May. The key was to start slow. My strength had decreased by roughly 50% on all major lifts and my endurance had dropped by roughly 40%. I began with three days of full-body training and 2 hours of medium-intensity cardio a week. After a few weeks, I changed to a Push-Pull-Legs-Rest cycle, with 3-4 hours of medium/high intensity cardio a week. Even though my initial goal was to simply get active again; about two weeks back, I decided to start a gradual cut. I estimate my initial body fat % to be around 15-16%, I plan to drop to 10% by end of August '16, while trying to retain my strength as much as I can. A highlight is that my strength rose rapidly within the first few weeks and I'm currently at 0.8x of my peak on most movements. My endurance is still pretty poor, but I am making forward progress, which is the important thing.

The primary determinant of a cut's success is your diet. You can always out-eat any workout. My TDEE is around 2785 Cal, so I started my cut at 2450 Cal a day, with a macro split of roughly 50% carbs, 30% protein and 20% fat. I was able to actually gain strength on this diet, but my weight loss was too slow, less than a pound a week -- very disappointing indeed. It is my hypothesis that I was retaining too much water, possibly due to dehydration (it's a very hot summer in Madison) or excessive carbs. Since last week, I have reduced my budget to 2250 Cal, with the reduction primarily coming from carbs. I'm seeing good progress with my body composition, though the weight scale is still a bit stubborn. I plan to stick to this budget for two more weeks and then cut another 100 Cal if need be.

I'm a relatively big guy and for my fitness goals, I try to eat 0.8-1g of protein per lb of bodyweight, which means trying to cram 145-180g of protein each day. This is becoming a huge challenge with my vegetarian lifestyle. Apart from eggs, all other vegetarian protein sources are calorie-rich, which blows apart my calorie budget. Hence, my reliance on eggs and natural whey powder has gone up drastically during this cut. I'm starting to believe that a vegetarian diet is not ideal for a cut, though it works fine for a clean bulk.

Outside of losing body fat, my cardio goal is to run 12 miles a week consistently by August '16, with a lot of focus on stretching and recovery. I am recovering from a mild case of shin splints, but my new running shoes from New Balance are working wonders with my running form. I hope to run a lot more this summer, coz the heart is the most important muscle of them all!

That's a quick summary of my current fitness goals, I will keep you updated on my progress.


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