The Long, Hard, Valuable Slog

I noticed early last year that my stomach issues were becoming more of an issue.

Personal life issues and a new business were creating a ton of stress in my life and my training was suffering because I was having a tough job managing stress.

One of the symptoms was more stomach issues.

Digestion became incomplete, absorption probably a rarity.

Muscle started falling off my body like a child runs from the “liver and onions” man.

Even after making some lifestyle changes, the damage still remained into this year.

Round about April or so, with my training stalled, my desire to train virtually non-existent, my body fat up, and my LBM down, I decided to embark on a little experiment: The Warrior Diet.

It was great for awhile.

I lost fat and then after awhile, muscle. My strength remained for the first 4 weeks or so, but then started to diminish. But boy – was the diet convenient!

Here were the benefits that I experienced:

  1. Increased concentration and focus
  2. Increased productivity
  3. Eliminated digestive issues
  4. Increased energy
  5. Better sleep

Here was the downside:

  1. Lost strength
  2. Lost lean body mass
  3. Became irritable because of 1&2

I came back from the June RKC at the lowest I’d been in almost 10 years: 207lbs. Yikes! I thought – I gotta do something about this.

So, after a ton of research, I went back to multiple meals a day. I started eating 3 to 4 meals each day somewhere between 2500 – 3500 calories per day with a mix of protein, carbs, and fats.

I also started squatting again. I still can’t let go of my stupid dream and hope to return to some sort of competition, some day, when my body’s ready.

For those of you who have never tried it, I strongly suggest Pavel’s “Hot Wheels For Summer” squat program in Beyond Bodybuilding. I modified (of course) for wussies and am doing my wussie version of it. But the cool thing is, it’s a program to follow, designed primarily by somebody else, which takes all thought out of it for me. I finish my first cycle next Monday, just before I head off to Hungary, and upon completion, I will have squatted at a volume and intensity I haven’t touched in almost 10 years. Not bad!

So, some take away things that I learned from this period:

  1. Never say never – I am back to squatting for 5s – hey, strength is a practice, and the more perfect reps you get in, the stronger you get, and the faster you get stronger…
  2. Absorption is more important then digestion – Calories only count if your body can actually use them and the quantity of food you are eating isn’t perceived as a threat by your body – so it is possible to grow muscle in a hypo-caloric state (I’m hanging around 220lbs each day)…
  3. The Overload Principle is still King – unfortunately, if you’ve loaded heavy in the past, you still must load your body in a way it perceives as “heavy” or at least “hard” to continue to make progress or regain ground (more on this later, I think)…
  4. Don’t overthink things – just because you might be slightly smart, you still need to look for the simplest solution to any problem. For me, it was “squats by Pavel” and “kettlebells by Dan John” (I used a variation of Dan’s “Armor Building” Protocol – my own tweak of course on his original) and the two complimented each other quite nicely…
  5. Focus on the lon-n-g-g-g term – I figure, if I continue waving in the HWFS protocol into my squat program, in 6 months I’ll have some insane numbers on the squat and actually stand a chance of having a competitive clean and jerk once again…

I’m looking forward to what the rest of this year of training will bring. I truly believe I am on my way to achieving my first goal – 240lbs by the end of the year. I am thankful for the trials and more thankful for what I’ve learned from them.

4 comments… add one
  • Steve McMinn, RKC Aug 5, 2009 @ 20:39

    Great post Geoff!

    It is always nice to have a reminder to focus on the long term and not get hung up on the day to day struggles, as they are simply a means to the eventual end.

    I’ve found my best results have come from a focus on the basics. Nice to hear the same from the participants of the Kettlebell Secrets calls!

  • Betsy Collie, RKC II Aug 6, 2009 @ 2:16

    I am happy for you Geoff. Alot of what you said I wholeheartedly agree. Especially in regard to absorption and squats…. The absorption rate is someting I have been experimenting with over the last 4 weeks, and thanks to our colleague Kevin it seems to be working. Weight is up, strength is up, body fat % is consistently low. We will know more at the end of this next four weeks.

    As for the long term thinking I agree with that as well. Although my way of thinking in kettlebell training and life is “to live in the rep you’re in”. There is alot we can learn from living that way whether in training or life. Alot that can be corrected, gained, or enjoyed. Enjoying the journey, yes? All the best to you!

  • Franz Snideman Aug 14, 2009 @ 22:14

    As you told me Geoff…..squatting is the key ingredient for strength and size!!!

    Have fun in Europe!!

  • Mike T Nelson Sep 5, 2009 @ 20:18

    Hi there Geoff!

    Are you still in pain at all? Just curious as you well know that pain “mucks up” all sorts of things.

    Another option is a simple diet rotation where you take out things that don’t agree with your from diet for 7 to 10 days at least and see how you feel/respond.

    My guess is that the WD worked well at first since you eliminated something that was not doing your digestion any favors. After awhile, low calories combined with less than optimal lifting will result in muscle loss (duh I know).

    Stress will reek havoc on the digestive system. I know for myself that if my stress is high and my sleep is impair, my gains slow to a crawl.

    Of course, overall movement quality is paramount.

    Keep us updated and thanks again for sharing.
    Rock on
    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)

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