Goals. I have ’em.

Goals. I haz ’em.

Now that I can do more than grimace when I think about moving a shoulder…and I am free of the 4 months of “no work/sudden movements” (12 weeks of that in slings on one arm or the other) and YEAR of “light duty” restrictions, I am back to attacking my fitness hard.

Some of you may recall my overall goal was to lose 200 pounds (100 in this go-around).

I missed it a bit…I got to -188 before my shoulder surgeries and subsequent YEAR of restrictions/rehab. I also let my nutrition slip a bit and gained some back…so now I’m sitting at -167.

Time to restart things, and hard. The goal has changed a bit though.

I now have THREE that I intend to attack simultaneously.

So…On to ‘da Goals!

1) Shoulder strengthening/rehab: Deliberate, structured, persistent, and careful training to bring my shoulders back to and to surpass their strength before the surgeries. This is a high bar. The damage to my shoulders from a lifetime of hard work and dangerous things was frequently referred to as “catastrophic”.

Note that my fitness quest brought this to light…and meant I had to do something about it…but really didn’t cause the issue. More of a “Straw the broke the camel’s back a couple years before it would have broken anyway…plus the camel wasn’t working with a crap to begin with” sort of situation.

Bringing the shoulders back to full strength with structured work and proper form should vastly reduce the possibility of this sort of injury recurring (translation: I don’t want to do this crap again!).

The sobering reality of this challenge is that it’s going to require a continually increasing intensity of work, basically measured by my shoulders being sore to the very edge of my endurance…for a year. Staying motivated to do this…each and every day…is not going to be an easy thing.

2) Fat loss: Rather than target a specific weight, I am targeting a body-fat percentage. I’ve learned a lot along this journey, and one of those things is that “proper” weight (by the BMI standard) is NOT a good measure of health. Rather, body composition IS. The percentage of body fat and lean muscle mass are what health is about. Every study, measure, and metric shows the more lean muscle mass you have, particularly going into your senior years, the better off you will be in every category. This includes things like Alzheimers, cancers, heart disease, and pretty much every disease related cause of death. This is NOT a small factor…something like a 40% reduction in all-cause mortality is achieved for those with a healthy body fat percentage and high lean muscle mass.

“Healthy” body fat is essentially, 10-20%. 15% is considered “athletic”.

In my specific case, at my current body composition, I need to lose 43 pounds of fat to attain the “ideal” 15% number.

To illustrate why I heap scorn on the BMI standard and ANYBODY that preaches it is this: Given my current muscle mass, if I lost 43 pounds of fat and achieved the 15% number, I would STILL BE MORE THAN 40 POUNDS OVERWEIGHT based on the BMI.

I am NOT, by any measure, built on a “light duty” frame.

To put that another way, I’d have to lose 40 pounds of MUSCLE along with the 43 pounds of fat just to squeak into the very top of “allowed” on the BMI. (at 6 feet tall the MOST I can weigh according to this standard is 175 pounds, worse yet, my employer’s measurement rounds DOWN in inches and I apparently am an eighth of an inch under 6 feet and thus, by “science of BMI” am 5’11” and I should be under 170lbs!)

You will not find a health professional ANYWHERE that will tell you losing 40-45 pounds of muscle is in any way healthy for you.

Why the hell to they preach the BMI model then? Heh…that’s subject for another story, but I’ve yet to get an answer from any health professional on this.

But still, my goal is NOT a weight of “217 pounds” (current weight minus the 43 pounds of body fat I need to lose). And the reason for that leads us to goal #3.

3) Add lean muscle mass: I want to pile on as much lean muscle mass as I can during the process. The short AND long-term health benefits of this are immense and well documented. The nutrition can vary somewhat between the two goals, but the work is the same.

But wait…

“But wait!” says the astute reader, “Goals must be achievable! Goals require a PLAN! Goals require a deadline!”

Yes. Yes they do. Otherwise they’re just wishes…

So. Achievable and a plan are the same thing.

1) The head game. If you don’t get your head in the game…and make this quest non-negotiable…everything else is a moot point.

2) Recognize that there ARE. NO. SHORTCUTS. Yes, I know this. But yes, I slip and must remind myself of it continually.

3) Get some help/motivation if ya need it. I am back at my trainer for the coaching, knowledge, and intensity. Accountability and making sure the plan is reasonable come along with consulting a professional. I highly recommend this, and it’s the piece that’s missing from our health-care and insurance systems…but that’s subject for yet another post.

A deadline. Yep. Need one.

That’s a bit complicated though.

I think, on it’s own, I could hit 15% body fat in 6 months…perhaps 8 (it gets MUCH harder as you approach that number). I even contemplated putting a bet on that…there’s a company out there that will basically bet you on your weight loss (link). This could be highly motivating for some.

As an aside, it’s a pretty safe bet for the company. The success rates are dismal, simply because there is little support, education, and guidance as to the actual process to achieve lasting success. Folks would much rather blow money on some miracle cure, and the “industry” has responded well to that desire. Most sell the “concept” of fitness. What you’ve got to find is somebody that sells the “results.”

I say again, There. Are. No. Shortcuts.

Do the thing.

In the end, I decided against the bet. The three goals together were more important to me than a simple weight loss number, and in fact, the shoulders are the overriding target. I didn’t want to put myself in a position where I was “motivated” to ignore the overall goal and/or do something that would compromise my health simply for a bet.

But, yes, I need a defined time-frame. Thus, I’ve decided on a year again. My goal is 15% body fat, strong shoulders, and as much lean muscle mass as I can achieve by this time next year.

My “stretch” goal is to hit the 15% by July…

We’ll just have to see how I measure up.

Oh…and in case you feel that such lofty goals could be de-motivating…let’s review a couple of the things I’ve achieved on this journey so far:
1) I’ve lost 167 pounds.
2) I’ve BEATEN T2 diabetes (actual remission!)
3) I’ve eliminated around $10,000 in annual and dangerous prescription drugs from my “repertoire”.
4) I’ve eliminated debilitating chronic pain (one could argue I’ve substituted a lot of muscle soreness for that, but that’s a positive trade and subject for another blog). I’ll point out for clarity that even my consumption of over-the-counter pain medications (Ibuprofen is my go-to) is all but eliminated. I may have taken 3 tablets in the last month.
5) I am accomplishing things daily that I could not have achieved even in my “farm work fitness” days. I’ve not been this fit in well…ever, despite the 40 pounds of extra fat.

This are not minor things. These were not easy things.

The path forward isn’t an easy thing either.

The trick is…whether I ever stepped foot on this path or not…easy was never in the cards.

I just wish I’d understood that sooner.

Do the thing.

I’ll see you on the road.

Daniel Meyer
You can read more about my fitness journey here.

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