For the last few years, I’ve been writing a bit about developer fitness, why I think it’s important, and my goals and progress.
You can read a bit about what I’ve shared in the previous posts:
- Developer Fitness: Getting & Staying in Shape
- Developer Fitness: More Progress, My Devices, Apps, and What’s Next
The purpose of this post is to go a bit further into what my goals have been first the first quarter of the year, what I’m aiming to do in the second phase of the year, and some additional thoughts on the devices I’ve been using.
Fitness in 2018: Quarter 1
Granted, this post is about a month overdue, but it’s taken me a while to get my notes together on everything I’ve wanted to share.
I posted last on the topic; I mentioned the following:
I’m not one much to blog about this topic, to post too much about this on Instagram, or to tweet too much about it, but it’s something that I have found an interest in doing so maybe I’ll share more about it in the months to come. Or maybe I’ll wait another few years.
Since then, a few things have changed namely that I do Instagram a little bit of what I’m doing (though I try not to go overboard).
But let me back up a little bit.
My Story, Abridged
The extremely short version of my getting into fitness started about nine years ago:
- I got into running,
- Eventually participated in a half-marathon and some 5Ks and 10Ks,
- This dove-tailed into training at the gym,
- Then I found HIIT,
- After that, I got into lifting,
- Then I began to want to try to gain muscle mass,
- And came full circle back to more cardio-centric works and lean muscle mass.
In short, I’ve very much interested in lean muscle, high-intensity interval training, and running. That’s where I’ve found my sweet spot.
Why Bother with Fitness at All?
If you’ve read any of the posts that I shared in the links above, then you know that some of what I’m going to say is a rehash of something I’ve already said.
In short, we, as developers, tend to live extremely sedentary lifestyles. It’s a choice we’ve made, sure, but the last effects of it are proving to be detrimental to our health.
And given that much of what we do with our work is oriented around left-brain activity, I believe that fitness can help us feel better in *all* areas of our lives. Further, it helps us to work the right-side of our brains, too.
It’s a bit of balance if nothing else.
Why Lean Muscle?
Before answering that question, let me back up a little bit.
Last year, my main goal was to put on as much muscle as possible.
This doesn’t mean I was taking a lot of supplements and in the gym trying to push as much weight as possible – I was still trying to be responsible – but I wanted to see what I was capable of doing namely because it was something I’d never done before.
The main changes that I made to my diet were:
- Taking beta alanine before each workout as a pre-workout drink,
- Increasing protein in taking through lots of chicken and lean meat,
- Doing slow-rep exercises, the greater range of motion, and incrementally adding more weight,
- And increasing my overall calorie intake (but not doing so via junk food).
Ultimately, I was able to hit about 220 pounds of weight (when I was around 195 pounds) when I started.
Overall, I achieved my goal, but there was a major side effect that I didn’t anticipate: I didn’t like the I felt. And by that, I mean that I simply felt heavier.
I had to buy bigger clothes; I was hungry more often than not, I didn’t like the way things fit, and, perhaps most importantly, running ended up began being more of a chore and it hurt.
Of course, this makes all sense, right? Muscle weighs more than fat, I had gained muscle, and thus running was going to be more of a chore. Further, I needed more food to keep up with the demands of by metabolism, and I simply got tired of that feeling.
It was fun, and it took about a year to do it healthily, but the more you learn about your body, what works for you, and what makes you happiest, the more you’re able to tailor your workouts to what works best for you.
So, Back to Lean Muscle
At the end of 2017, I’d resolve that I wanted to lose weight, but there’s always a caveat of if you gain wait and don’t lose it properly, you can end up with extra skin that sticks around.
This isn’t meant to be a vanity thing, but it’s something – like the rest of the stuff that I’d done up to this point – that I wanted to do right.
So after a bit of research (which I can share resources, programs, and people later in this post), I found what I wanted to do, how to do it, and set it out to do it.
Ultimately, my plan to get down to 180 – 185 (I want a five-pound margin for those just in case times where I’m traveling, I get sick, there are holidays or whatever else.
I find that the mental components of having a window of weight versus a goal weight are important. This may or may not be true for you.
For me, it is.
To that end, I knew that I’d need to put together some sort of game plan for less weight. For those who are also into this stuff, think of it as a permanent de-load.
For those who aren’t interested in reading any further, I did reach my goal of 180 (well, 180.8) by the end of April. Further, I’ve been able to stay below 185 since.
The how is covered in the remainder of this post.
As mentioned in previous posts, outside of running, I’m a fan of working out on my own, and I tend to use the Beachbody Programs.
- I’m not a coach,
- This isn’t an endorsement or sales pitch,
- I have nothing to earn from saying I’m a fan.
Anyway, at the beginning of the year, I signed up for Beachbody on Demand and began streaming it into my office whenever I wanted to work out.
I started off with a three-week program called Shift Shop which help, if anything, lay the foundation of what I was able to do.
After that, I did a month of Core de Force which I was very skeptical of doing, at first. By the end, I was such a fan, I did a second round of it and incorporated the deluxe workouts in place of the standard workouts where appropriate.
Further, this has sparked my interest in getting into a local mixed martial arts class at some point. But that’s a post for another time.
At this point, I’d hit a plateau in losing weight. In fact, I went a week or so with my weight going up which is not my goal. Whenever this happens, I’ve found (based on material I’ve read), it’s good to mix up your workouts to more-or-less confuse your body.
So I did a week of hybrid workouts where I did:
- and MMA
After that, my metabolism seems to change, and the weight loss resumed.
For the most part, in all the years of working out, I’ve been fortunate not to injure myself.
However, sometime late last year, I began to feel some lower back pain. The short version of it is that my L5 was out of alignment due to something from roughly five years ago (as best as the chiropractor could estimate) and then my workouts were exacerbating it.
So for the latter part of the year last year, I had to do a bit of walking, light running, and I have to be careful with any plyometric exercises right now.
I’m back to good, and I’ve found seeing a chiropractor on the regular to be pretty good especially if you’re doing any type of high impact or plyometric exercises.
So take that for what it is.
Currently: Insanity: Max 30, Again
Right now, I’m in the middle of working through Insanity Max:30 again.
At the time of this post, I’m in my last week of the first month, I’m hovering around 182 pounds, and my resting heart rate averages 55.
But we’ll see how things go as the year goes on – things can change, and I’d like to cover it a bit more as the year goes on.
With all of that said, I’d like to share a few tips that I’ve found to be helpful over the last few years. This is for anyone – regardless of if you’re looking to start working out or looking to get better at what you’re doing or if you’re simply interested in reading the suggestions.
- Calendar Everything. I firmly believe that if you get something on a calendar, you’re likely to do it. This doesn’t matter how frequent, what, or where you’re doing to do it, write it down. The more you do, the more likely you are to do it.
- Write It Down. Jot down where you are, what you’re doing, your goals, and then weigh yourself at the same time each week, and keep a log. Some software can help with this (which I’ll share later in this post), but keep track of your progress. It’s a far better indicator than whatever else is out there. If you use your mood, photos, and notes, you’re going to notice a difference. It’s not always about the numbers.
- Start Small. If you’re just getting into working out, aim for two to three times a week but know what your goals are and start small. There are a lot of programs out there (some of them on iOS and Android even) that are free and that are worth checking out. This includes things like Couch to 5K for running and things from ZenLabs for other well-rounded workouts.
- Aim for Five a Week. As you progress, am to work out most of the week. Depending on what your goals will depend on what you need to do. Some days will be shoulders and arms, some days will be legs, and others will be total body. If you’re focused on other types of exercises, you’re looking at something else. But having things set at five days a week gives you two days – one to use in case you miss a day and one to use for rest. And yes, rest *still* matters and is just as important as aspects of fitness itself.
- Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (pun intended, sort of). Some days are better than other days. For example, I have days where running a 5K in a certain amount of time are easy. Other days, I’ll struggle. Some days, I’ll burn one number of calories without needing to take a break; other times, I’ll have to modify. It’s okay. Just show up and do something. It’s not about micromanaging every little thing you’re doing, but it’s about managing the big picture.
As mentioned, these are just suggestions. I’m extremely Type-A, so I tend to focus a lot of making sure I have things jotted down (from when I’m working out to logging calorie burns and even doing personal video journals in addition to logging things in a notebook).
All of the following are based on things that I’ve found useful. Ultimately, you don’t need too much to start getting into fitness, and I know certain things (like an Apple Watch) people may be things at which people scoff.
I’m just sharing what I use, what I’ve found useful, and what works for me. I hope that something below helps you find something useful and helps you find a groove in which you can work and get better.
- MyFitnessPal. I’ve found nothing but success in using this app to track calories and weight over the last few years. I tend to be pretty dogmatic concerning using it, too. I don’t manage my macros as much as I did when I was aiming to put on muscle but I still use it to help balance calories, weight loss, intake, and so on.
- Clips. This simple video app is what I use to keep video journals of what I do. For those who want to get social with it, it’s also a decent way to use it as a method of accountability with those who aren’t nearby. That is, you can film a video, share it, and they can do the same.
- Dysfunctional Parrot is a great site for reading down-to-earth, humorous-but-serious reviews of various fitness programs.
- Body Recomposition is a more scientific approach to getting into certain aspects of fitness. I don’t read it every time a new post comes out, but I use it as a point of reference for what I want to do on certain days.
- Agility Ladder. These are pretty cheap on Amazon, and you don’t need a high-end one to get done what you need to get done.
- Apple Watch Series 3. First, the heart rate monitor on this and its tie to the Activity app on iOS is solid. Secondly, I don’t like running with my phone so having this + AirPods and podcasts can make running safer and a lot more light weight than needing to bring any other gear with me.
- AirPods. If you have a watch or comparable device that plays music, podcasts, or audiobooks via Bluetooth, these are great. I’ve nothing but good things to say about their quality. They fit well, the sweat doesn’t mess with them, and they stay in my ears.
- Minicast. Once Overcast retired its ability to share podcasts with Apple Watch, Minicast showed up. It has a low rating in the App Store, but I have nothing bad to say about it. I tell my phone what Podcasts I want to add to my watch and it works.
All via Beachbody on Demand…
- Shift Shop. This is what I used as the foundation to change from adding muscle mass to leaning out. It’s a three-week program (with the option to extend it) that’s great for either getting started or changing gears.
- Core de Force is an MMA-based, cardio-intense workout that uses a HIIT format. I’m a big fan of this one.
- Insanity Max: 30 is a tough workout. I’ve done it once before as covered in other posts but it will burn calories like none of the others above. It requires a serious commitment to sticking to it, and you’re going to have to push to finish some of the workouts, but you’ll be in great cardiovascular health by the time it’s done.
The Social Aspect
As shared earlier in the post, I don’t share too much about this kind of stuff online, but I’m getting more and more comfortable doing so.
Further, I think it’s something people in our industry could take advantage of given how much we’re connected via Instagram or Twitter.
That is, it’s not so much about showing off or whatever but just throwing a shot of your workout, calendar, or calorie burn into an Instagram story.
Then again, those who are gonna workout regardless don’t need it. But if you’re someone who wants some motivation, Tweet me, and maybe something can come from it. 🤷🏻♂️
I’m doing it already so I’m happy to have others on board.
Okay, whew. Long post, right? Here’s until the next one.