Monday, April 20, 2009

I'm Skinny: The Beginning

The Good News

Well, I'm back from Chicago and I'll be writing my review of my revisit at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine later this week when I get my camera back to add in some cool pictures I took while there. It was a great time, and I'm still recovering a bit from a solid combination of hangover and lack of sleep. But for now, I'm going to talk a bit about my new workout plan and set this up so that you can all follow my progress and make fun of me when I screw up.

The Bad News

For anyone who doesn't know me, I'm really skinny. As long as I can remember I've been insanely tall and insanely skinny, much to my personal dismay. People often make stupid anecdotal remarks like, "Oh you're so lucky that you're skinny" or "Wow, have you grown since I last saw you?" Granted, being skinny is much better than being fat. Being fat sucks for everyone. But skinniness has its own downsides, and to be honest I'm sick of getting confused with McCauley Culkin when I take my shirt off at the beach.

I'm saying this mostly to give people an idea of where I stand now, and not so that you will feel bad for me because of my "bad genetics". This is one of those things that fat people say all the time to make up for their lack of motivation and discipline. I've even had people at work complain to me (as they simultaneously scarf down a twinkie) that they have been cursed with "bad genetics". Genetics certainly play an important part in everyone's body composition, I'm not denying that. But I am calling bullshit on the oft proclaimed excuse that there is some singular fat gene manipulating the fat people of the world.

I would say that in my own case, I certainly have a genetic predisposition to staying at a less than ideal body weight. And even though I would classify myself as a "hardgainer," I will certainly take ownership for my persistent skinniness. First of all, I spent the majority of my life with the nutritional understanding of a 5 year old. Even when I started lifting early in high school for football, I had no idea that I should be eating close to 1 gram of Protein per Pound of body weight, consuming post-workout shakes, or that my diet of processed foods like potato chips were likely halting my progress and recovery. Only within the past three years or so have I started reading extensively about nutrition and fitness. This has, without a doubt, been a huge road block in my own journey towards finding my ideal body composition. I plan on writing an article about general nutrition in the future to let you all know how I'm approaching this aspect of my training, so look forward to that.

The other thing that has been really halting my progress is that even when I was lifting, I was lifting like an idiot. In college I spent years training exclusively with drop sets (retarded), rarely did squats and deadlifted even less often. I worried about hitting three angles on the bench instead of doing pull ups, and I did biceps curls instead of working compound lifts that worked multiple muscle groups with heavy weights. The only thing I wasn't doing wrong was that I wasn't doing my curls in the squat rack (lol). I was literally doing everything wrong, and I even managed to make some small progress during this time.

What I'm Doing About It

So the other day I was entering patient data for my job at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and one of the values I often need to calculate is body surface area (BSA). I thought it might be fun to calculate my own, so I entered my own height, weight, and age and checked the computer's qualitative assessment of my body type. It told me what I already knew - I'm underweight - in a way that I couldn't avoid. I figured right then that it was time to start doing something.

I have been reading a lot of the articles on T-Nation over the past few months and am itching to get back in the gym. In particular, I have been really interested in Chad Waterbury's workouts, which generally incorporate full body workouts utilizing mostly compound lifts with relatively heavy weights. Now that I am going to be around my Dad's more often I figure I can relatively easily make it to his gym 3 times a week. I'll be following the plans outlined in Chad's newest book Huge in a Hurry, which I've found to contain a solid combination of experiential and scientific knowledge. Definitely check the book out if you are looking to try something new in the gym. As Chad mentions, most of what he's advocating is not new, but the way in which a lot of it is done (lifting fast, for example) is relatively different. I have no doubts that it's going to help me get to where I want to be.

I'm going to be backpacking for a month in about a month, and that is going to make things interesting in terms of getting stronger while walking 10-20 miles a day. But at the very least I'm going to be doing some body weight exercises and other relatively non-conventional stuff (in addition to a ton of walking) to stay as strong as I can. Check out my other site, Nakasendo Solo, for info on my trip. I'll post my "MacGyver Backpack Training Plan" here and over there for those who are interested.

For now, here are my stats and some pictures so that I can stay on track and you all can follow my progress. I have no doubt that by the end of the summer I'll be in much better shape and feel a lot better about where I stand.


Weight: 170 lbs.
Height: 6'4"
Pictures: (Forthcoming)

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