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Old July 15th, 2007, 04:26 PM
Embassy Embassy is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Santa Barbara County, CA
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Embassy Embassy Embassy
Embassy's Sixteen Weeks: PN Challenge Log

I'm sending in my PN Challenge form as soon as my wife can take some pictures of me, but I thought it'd be helpful for me to post up here to talk about, and get feedback from others on, the next sixteen weeks.

I'm male, 44, 5'11" tall, and over the last 20 years, an indifferent athlete. I played football in high school, soccer in college, and rugby in my first few years in the Air Force, but in general I don't especially enjoy sports or exercise, and it's the first thing to fall off my schedule at the slightest provocation. I recognize, however, that I need to make some changes. I don't like flossing either, but I do it as part of the maintenance of my health. Exercise is the same.

I'm in the Air Force reserve currently, and have been activated for the next eight weeks. This represents a great opportunity for me, I think. Since I'm going to be at Edwards AFB for the summer and away from my family, I have the opportunity to establish some new habit patterns. In this way, the disruption to the ordinary routine (I'm self employed, doing aerospace vehicle and component design) lets me concentrate on fitness goals.

I took my skinfold measurements this morning with my wife's help, and discovered to my moderate chagrin that I'm 24% body fat at 192.9 pounds. That works out to 146.6 pounds of lean body mass and 46.3 pounds of fat. Not good. I also got most of the labs done (the Air Force was glad to cough up most of the over-40 stuff but balked at the liver and kidney panel).


Body Composition Goal: I've set the goal of having on Nov. 5 a body weight of 175 pounds at 10% body fat. This will require me to lose about 1.8 pounds of fat and gain about 5/8 of a pound of muscle during each week.

Athletic Performance Goal: Currently the Air Force awards full points on the annual physical fitness test for men my age if they can run 1.5 miles in less than 10:24. Remarkably enough, even at my current weight and body composition, I can do this on the treadmill. I'd like to be able to do it on the track, where my performance lags by just under a minute. More aggressively, there's a 5K race in my little town in October, and I'd like to break 20 minutes.. that's a little faster than a 6:30 mile. Finally, I benched 300 lbs once when I was a teenager, with awful form, "helpful" spotters and probably two inches of bounce off my ribcage. I'd like to do that honestly, just once.

Health Goals: My labs came back better than I thought, but I would like to see some improvement in my lipid profile. Not being a physician, I'm not sure what I'm looking for but I know which direction "goodness" is and would like to see some motion in that way.

Challenges and Advantages:

Challenges I face: I have a lazy streak. I have a tremendous weakness for salty snacks - chips, and crackers especially. I can't have them in the house. I got braces on the inner surfaces of my teeth in January, and so some foods (carrot sticks, apples, celery) are unmanageable. My legs are really strong - squatting 315 is not a challenge - but the upper body lags significantly. I injured my right rotator cuff in January and have been through the cortisone shot and physical therapy dance. There's no more pain but the underlying posture issues that led to the injury probably remain. Finally I live in wine country (the area featured in the film Sideways) and wine is a big part of life hereabouts. I'm going to have to be very careful about how much wine I drink and when - and that will probably challenge my willpower more than anything else.

Challenges induced by the PN program: Most of one's meals are NOT post workout. Most of your recipes are. <shakes finger>. And they're really tasty too, darn you.

Advantages I have: I have an opportunity to reestablish my habits during the next eight weeks since I'm on active duty temporarily. The culture of the Air Force supports physical fitness - taking off from work for an hour to hit the gym is not something you're going to get scolded for. I'm a military aviator in my Air Force life, and following a checklist is something I can do really really well. I have a fondness for getting under the hood and seeing how things work at a deep level. The impulse that leads me to hack into my iPhone and put custom ringtones on it and change the interface around is not so different from the one that inclines me to want to optimize my body. I tolerate sameness well, and really don't mind eating the same things for every meal for weeks at a stretch.


I frankly have no idea if I'm going to win this challenge or not. It's in the hands of science, really. What I can do is focus on working the program, following the checklist, measuring the variables, making necessary corrections, and staying on glideslope and on localizer for the next sixteen weeks.

Plan of attack: I've looked at the various programs on the PN site and have decided instead to pursue a modified form of hypertrophy-specific training called "Dual Factor Hypertrophy Training". Though normally for bodybuilders, I think it'll work well for me in this case. There's some latent fitness to be tapped here, but pushing for 5/8 of a pound per week of muscle while also losing 1.8 pounds of fat is going to be a challenge. I talked this over with a friend who's a surgeon and also a fairly serious bodybuilder, and she suggested that program to me. So I have my sets and reps all worked out for the next six weeks, after which I'll reassess depending on results. Strength sessions are 4x per week, split.

Running program: 30 miles per week. Mix of stamina, tempo, and endurance training. Typical runs (and I'll post links to here) involve road running at Edwards at 5AM before it gets hot, and it gets brutally hot there, with strides to 6 min/mile pace for 100 to 200 yards six to eight times per mile. For the detailed program, see "The self-coached runner" by Schied and Lawrence.

Ab work: I found an article by Ian King on T-mag that I'm going to pursue.. my abs are in dismal shape and I need to hit 'em hard. I can split this out from the rest of the strength workouts and do them first thing in the morning before running. After week eight, my wife wants me to take a Pilates class with her and I'm inclined to do that. I had the weightlifter's arrogance that it sort of "didn't count" unless it was maximal effort and involved grunting, but my experience and rapid improvement when I had my physical therapy on my shoulder has caused me to conclude that I'm probably wrong about that.

So, that's my story in a nutshell, or at least the beginning part of it.

Game on.

Last edited by Embassy; August 9th, 2007 at 12:15 PM..
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Old July 15th, 2007, 04:42 PM
IrishTrish IrishTrish is offline
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: New Jersey
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Welcome! I enjoyed reading your post. It sounds like you have all bases covered and are ready to start on a great journey. Best of luck to you!

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Old July 17th, 2007, 10:30 AM
Embassy Embassy is offline
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Location: Santa Barbara County, CA
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Embassy Embassy Embassy
Day one

Diet: 100% PN compliant.

Workout: (Upper body) Intensity on a scale of 0 to 10: 6. (zero is "pulse didn't elevate"; ten is "went to failure on every set of every exercise and then puked"). Rotator cuff injury holding back chest substantially but it's on that uneasy threshold between discomfort and pain so I'm taking it easy.

Workout drink: Skipped. Didn't feel I'd earned it.

Run: two miles at 8:00/mile pace with 8 110 yard surges to 6:40/mile pace. On track at unaccustomed altitude (making excuses perhaps but it's 2300 feet MSL instead of the usual 400 where I live), pulse at ending was 177.

Comments: Abs are lagging; need to hit them harder. Drank huge amounts of green tea (3/4 gallon). 20 mg creatine (loading phase) 6x fish oil capsules including 2x biotest flameout stuck to bottom of old container.

Path ahead: Increase volume and intensity.

Last edited by Embassy; July 19th, 2007 at 04:19 PM..
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Old July 18th, 2007, 10:59 AM
Embassy Embassy is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Santa Barbara County, CA
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Embassy Embassy Embassy
Day Two

Diet: 100% Compliant with PN guidelines. Interesting new diet choices available in the frozen section. You can get these pre-packaged turkey breasts that microwave up nicely. I have to say, for a diet that seems to be ~ 2000 calories a day, I have been feeling stuffed with food given the frequency of meals. Day's intake included 6 oz fresh spinach, ~ 0.5 lb broccoli, 280 g protein.

Workout: Lower body and abs. Deep squats, good mornings, calf raises, deadlifts. Also added a new exercise, the "pullthrough," which you do with a t-handle between your legs facing away from the cable machine. Does good things for glutes and lower back, judging by today's soreness. Intensity: 7.5/10

Workout drink: 1 serving Surge. After a workout that stuff tastes great. MmmSupplements: 6x fish oil, spaced around meals, ZMA, 20 mg Creatine (loading phase till Friday). One meal involved two scoops Biotest Metabolic Drive protein powder.

Aerobics/Cardio. 3 mile run AM, 1.0 mile treadmill (fast) PM after leg workout.

Last edited by Embassy; July 18th, 2007 at 11:01 AM..
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Old July 19th, 2007, 04:10 PM
Embassy Embassy is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Santa Barbara County, CA
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Embassy Embassy Embassy
Day 3

Diet: Totally compliant. I find spinach less awful than I did as a little kid, although the stuff seems to stick tenaciously to my teeth. Whenever I rinse my mouth out after a meal it looks like there's another 100 calories in the sink. Probably hit 240 g of protein for the day.

Workout: Just a long run in the morning. See, user name "Embassy". It turns out that leaving from my quarters, running to the baseball diamond, sprinting around the base paths (rahhhh.. and the crowd went wild!) and then back hits about four miles. I'm pretty sore from the weightlifting so I took it easy. Time was 31 minutes, enough to listen to a few podcasts. Intensity 6.5/10

Workout drink: none.

Supplements: ZMA, fish oil, 1 meal was a metabolic drive shake, berries, etc. Still loading creatine.

Results tracking: Too early to remeasure but it occurred to me today to track "total skinfold mm" as an index of body fat percentage. I'm looking for 50 mm total at the end of the line, which means a loss of around 8 or so mm per week. Checking tape circumferences will tell me whether I'm losing or gaining muscle, and the scale will tell me how much. For example, if I'm down 2mm on my triceps skinfold, but up 1/8 inch in girth, that says I did a good job in putting on some muscle while losing fat. I'm thinking of a coherent way of presenting these data at the end of each week.

Last edited by Embassy; July 21st, 2007 at 07:27 PM..
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Old July 19th, 2007, 05:46 PM
Budmesiter61 Budmesiter61 is offline
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Location: Colorado Springs, CO
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Hey Embassy, I enjoyed reading your opening story. I'm retired A.F. out of Peterson, CO. It looks like you're doing good so far, stick with it cause I'll be checking in for inspiration.
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Old July 19th, 2007, 05:59 PM
dihydroxycholecalciferol dihydroxycholecalciferol is offline
PN Coaching for Men - July 2014
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Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Posts: 134
Props to embassy..... I say we post some pics out of maxim to get our views up there. :)
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Old July 19th, 2007, 06:37 PM
Old Bull Old Bull is offline
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Old Bull
Hi E,

A good brief at the beginning, I think the lazy streak is in almost all of us. The part that caught my eye being a Kiwi in your brief was the Rugby, what position did you play your height were you a (lossie).

You have a good plan and set some good goals, far better than mine, sort of joined at the very last minute so everything is off the cuff at the moment.

Do not know if I could do that much Cardio (30 miles per week) bit of a swear word in our circles, probably use the ESW Energy Systems Work to get away with doing it.

Will keep an eye on your log. Keep the good work up.

Stay Strong

Old Bulls Challenge

"Victory Is Reserved For Those Who Are Willing To Pay Its Price"
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Old July 19th, 2007, 06:53 PM
Embassy Embassy is offline
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Embassy Embassy Embassy
Thanks Old Bull... I was a 5/8, and occasionally a breakaway. I didn't excel at either position, so the All Blacks would have just laughed at me.

I think I need to keep the cardio nice and high if I'm going to make the fat loss goal. And given the current level of pudge I think I need to put myself in the "don't tolerate carbs well" category, so I keep the Surge for "good" weight workouts. And 30 miles a week sounds like a lot but ten of it is on one day and is pretty leisurely.

Dihydro etc..I think if we hit our goals here Maxim will be by to take pictures of us. Here's hoping anyway.

Budmeister, I always loved the springs. One of my best friends was at Falcon for a tour and then in the mountain for several years. Lovely area. Edwards, by contrast, well. There's a woman as beautiful as Allushchka behind every tree.

There are no trees.
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Old July 19th, 2007, 08:50 PM
aluschka aluschka is offline
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aluschka aluschka aluschka aluschka aluschka aluschka
Hey Buddy

Thanx for poping ova to my log. All the best in your challenge and good luck with those braces. They can be a bit of pain when it comes to certain food

Aluschka's PN HOT BODY
"Think positive. Your attitude will change your REALITY!"
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