Kettlebell Workout. Keep Going. (Week 2)

Weigh In

Whew!  We did it, we completed week 1’s regimented kettlebell and cardio routine.  It’s time to weigh in.  At the start of week 1 I tipped the scales at 294.8 pounds and body fat at 36.8%, now I’ve dropped to 292.2 pounds and 36.2% body fat.  Losing 2.6 pounds is right on track for the my weekly weight loss goals.  Sweet success!  Enjoy the the mini victory and prepare to replicate another week of hard work.

Stick With the Plan

If you’ve had success in your first week, put your pedal on the gas and keep it going!  We want to establish momentum and create a habit.  Even if you are really sore, get out of bed and keep moving, simplify movements, and use lower weights (or only body weight if necessary)  – it’s going to pay dividends.

Kettlebell Workout

Repeat the pattern of a challenging kettlebell work out, like HasFit’s on day one of your week:

 

Cardio Focused Workout

And on day 2 you’re really going to thank yourself if you get up and do cardio to break up the soreness with something like Fitness Blender’s 37 minute cardio workout:

Follow this recipe two more times in your week and be sure to mix in a day of rest.  Find a routine you like whether it is on Youtube or in a book.  If you live in a warm climate enjoy the great outdoors for your cardio day and do whatever you fancy (running, jump roping, swimming, etc…), as long as it gets a sweat going.

The theme of this week is KEEP GOING, which will lead to continued results.  Yes, your body will revolt (soreness), but everyday will get a little easier until maybe you get back to enjoying your workouts.  Get after it!

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The Philadelphia Pounding

If last week was the Minneapolis Miracle, this week was the Philadelphia Pounding.  Any signs of life shown by the Vikings on their opening touchdown drive were completely snuffed out by the Eagles defensive dominance for the remainder of the game.

Momentum shifted away from the Vikings when a Case Keenum pass was picked off by Patrick Robinson and taken 50 yards to the endzone making the score 7-7.  The next score would come from Eagles running back Blount, who trucked Vikings safety Sendejo, willing the Eagles to a lead that would not be relinquished.

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The Vikings were driving towards a game tying score when Derek Barnett forced a fumble into the arms of underdog mastermind Chris Long.  The Eagles offense apparently didn’t get the memo that the Vikings defense was good – stacking up 31 points of their own to bury the Minneapolis Miracle for good.

What Happened?

Defensive line play

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Eagles d-line was beast:  It won’t show up in the stats but Chris Longs pressure on Keenum forced an errant throw leading to the pick six.  Then, when the Vikes thought it was about to be knotted up at 14, Barnett did his best Lawrence Taylor impression, stripping Keenum of the football and any hope of a comeback.  Barnett might as well ripped out the Viking’s heart and yelled ‘KALI MA’!

Vikings: Outside of Hunter’s sack, the Vikings defense was unable to create discomfort for Nick Foles, who tossed 3 touchdowns.

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Foles vs. Keenum

The former teammates and friends had very different nights.  Keenum was harassed and never established a rhythm throwing two picks, while Foles was cool as a cucumber producing 3 touchdowns and zero turnovers.

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End of the Minneapolis Miracle

The Vikings will head back to Minneapolis just in time to see the Eagles ride into town for a battle with New England.  In two weeks the Superbowl madness will be roaring as Vikings fans and players muffle sobbing into their pillows, crying themselves to sleep.

 

 

Philadelphia Eagles Are Not Underdogs Against the Minnesota Vikings

When the Philadelphia Eagles lost Carson Wentz, their young QB star, a peculiar situation presented itself, the lower seeded Falcons became favored in the play-off matchup.  Eagles players rallied around this media verdict and created a new fashion sensation for Philadelphia fans by donning German Shepherd masks to celebrate victory over the Falcons.

On Sunday the Eagles will host the Minnesota Vikings and have encouraged fans to wear dog masks or underdog t-shirts (for those unable to secure the sold out mask) in support.  I will not be wearing a dog mask for a variety of reasons and neither should you, the Eagles are not underdogs.

Home Field Advantage

  • Comfort:  When you’re the home team, you get to sleep in your own bed; no sharing a hotel room with a 350 pound lineman sawing logs.
  • The 12th Man:  The energy from a fired up crowd can uplift a flat home team and provide motivation at critical moments.
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  • Numbers Don’t Lie:  An awesome piece by Neil Paine on fivethirtyeight compiled the winning percentage of home play-off teams in all sports since 2000.  The NFL displayed the greatest home field winning percentage at 64.7%, up from the regular season rate of 57.1%.

Nick Foles is a Capable Back Up

One of the reasons sports analyst view the Eagles as underdogs is the loss of Carson Wentz to a knee injury, but Foles boasts a nice body of work going into the Vikes game:

  • Great 2013:  The NFL, like the world, says ‘What have you done for me lately?’  But let’s not forget that Foles posted 27 touchdowns, threw for 2,891 yards, completed 64% of his passes, and only had 2 picks in the 2013 season!  Sure, it’s been 5 years since that production but there’s a reason the Eagles brought Foles back into the nest – he’s a capable NFL QB.
  • Stepping up in 2017:  This year Nick stepped in and tossed 4 touchdowns against the hapless Giants and did just enough to help the Eagles secure the number one playoff seed in the NFC, providing home-field advantage throughout.
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  • Getting Comfortable:  Back up QB’s don’t get many reps in the NFL and now that Foles is the starter, his reps will increase and he should only get more comfortable as he practices with the starting offense.  The last two regular season games were rocky, but in the NFC Divisional Round Foles completed 23/30 passes for 76.7%.  It looks like Foles is finding a rhythm.

A good Eagles defense is a facing the Vikings 3rd option at quarterback

  • The Eagles defense is good:  Everybody is talking about the top ranked Vikings defense, but the Eagles ranked in the top 5 for a variety of regular season defensive statistics: points allowed per game at 18.4, total points allowed at 295, and yards allowed per game at 306.5.
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  • Case Keenum is the Vikings back-up:  Yes, the poor Eagles lost Wentz, but the Vikings lost Teddy Bridgewater in 2016 leading to the acquisition of Sam Bradford who was injured this year, which gave Keenum the starting nod.  Case has performed well and sustained it, proving he can hang with the top third of QB’s in the NFL, but ultimately Keenum was the 3rd man on the Vikes depth chart.
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I see a lot of great reasons to watch the game, but I don’t see an underdog.

Cover image by Manu Adan via stocksnap

Kettlebell workouts (Week 1)

We’ve realized it’s time for a change and assessed ourselves, now we get to work out.  I’m going to start with a focus on kettlebell workouts, mixing cardio in between to break up the lactic acid.  Kettlebell workouts can be done from the convenience of home and it’s relatively inexpensive to buy a kettlebell.

Is a kettlebell workout right for you?

  • Experienced Lifter:  Kettlebell workouts are not for first time gym patrons.  Proper technique is essential, otherwise you will end up injured and back on the fast track to weight gain.  If you haven’t trained much in your lifetime I would start with body weight movements or connect with that friend who has been begging you to workout with them.  Your request to hit the gym will send them into euphoria.
  • Self motivated:  If you need the encouragement of a friend or trainer, a kettlebell workout in your living room probably won’t yield great results.  This plan is lone wolf style.

I can check both boxes: with 9 years of competitive high school and college football combined, I’ve been trained concerning proper lifting technique, and seeing my skyrocketed weight is enough motivation for me.

Get your kettlebell

The main consideration in this purchase is your strength level.  If you select a weight too heavy then you will be discouraged and/or hurt because you won’t be able to control the weight.  I’m speaking from experience because I bought a 50 pound kettlebell thinking I could handle it, but I found I was in no condition to rep that weight.  Consequently, it has mostly sat in a dark corner of my home collecting dust.

I love the A2Zcare 30 pounder!  It offers a super comfortable handle and the rubber coating gives just a touch of protection when you set it on the ground.  If you think you want to go lighter there are lots of great options:

  

Day 1: Kettlebell workout

In case you’ve been in a bunker, it’s the internet age and that means great workout content abounds!  Youtube is full of well done workout videos that only require an internet connection.  Fitness Blender offers an excellent kettlebell workout for newbies:

If you’ve been out of your workout routine, this will definitely give you a run for your money.  When you’re sucking wind remember:

  • Keep good form:  When you are gasping for breath, form is sacrificed, leading to injuries…then no more working out.
  • Scale back:  You can take a breather or modify the movement so it’s easier – most of the time that means reducing weight or simplifying the movement.

Day 2: Cardio

You might not be incredibly sore, but it’s coming.  Today a mild ache, tomorrow a thigh paralyzing tightness sinks in.  To avoid this fate we use cardio.  Here’s a great cardio workout from HASfit you can do in your living room:

Now repeat this formula two more times in your week – kettlebell workout, then cardio session.  For your other sessions check out other workout videos for variety and have fun!  Be sure to take a rest day in your week to avoid burn out.

Pre-workout assessment (Week 0)

We’ve realized we’re out of shape and we are ready to work out.  Where do we start?  Let’s assess our current condition:

Body Weight/Body Fat

I start with measuring body weight and body fat.  I use a basic scale, but it gives me an idea of body composition.  I simply want to track the progress during my weight loss campaign.  For about 30 bucks you can get a great scale that connects to your smart phone.

This scale is under $30 and is a nice tool to have on your weight loss journey:

I avoided the scale during my phase of denial and was shocked to see my weight soar to an all-time high…294.8 pounds.  My body fat registered at 36.8%.  Ouch!  In my division two football glory I was a slim 286, I wasn’t expecting to be on 300’s doorstep.

Now that I know my current numbers I can create my weight loss target; 50 pounds is a nice round number, which in my case would lead to about 245 pounds.  The CDC recommends losing 1-2 pounds per week, with this in mind, a 50 pound goal will take 25 weeks.  I like to make a calendar with my starting weight and week by week check-ins listing the goal weight (-2 pounds every week).   If this is too daunting a task, break it into “Phase 1” and so on until desired goals are achieved.  In my instance, I started working out January 9th and could shoot for 16 pounds lost by March 9th.

Body Weight Movements

Another good way to measure progress is testing an assortment of timed body weight movements.

  • Push-ups
  • Pull-ups
  • Squats
  • Sit-ups
  • Dips

Give yourself 60 seconds or until you fatigue (can’t complete another repetition) and see what you can crank out.  After two months, or whatever time marker suits your fancy, check your progress – just don’t get too antsy and check your progress two days later.  Give yourself time!  You didn’t blubberfy overnight and it will take time to unearth the new you.

Run a mile

As a large man at 6’3” and nearly 300 pounds, this is not my favorite past time.  Running.  Don’t care for it much, but it offers one more category for the documentation of our great tune up.  Since I dislike running and it is -9 degrees out with whipping icy winds, I just imagine a miserable 11:43 run with a terrible side ache and dry heaving – which crescendos into real vomiting that freezes before contact with the permafrost beneath me.  It’ll be pretty nifty when I can run a 7 minute mile and say “Wow, what a lardbucket I was back yonder!  Victory is mine!”

We’ve faced reality and assessed our condition.  Now begins the journey to our weight loss goal.  Mount up.

*I’m not a doctor and haven’t ever played one on TV.  I’ve lost every game of Operation I’ve ever played.  Before any change to your diet or physical activity you should consult a real doctor in a lab coat with sloppy, illegible signatures.

How did I get out of shape (again)?

Recently I’ve been confronted with the harsh reality that I am much heavier than I want to be.  Sure, I stopped regularly working out and I wasn’t on a strict diet, but I certainly wasn’t a total hog…was I?  The warning signs were everywhere, but I was in denial.

3 Forms of Denial

Photo Flinch

One of the first ways to recognize a slide into flabby mode is an adverse reaction to group photos, like a vampire to light.  A friend or family member shows you a group photo and a violent shudder moves through you.  I can’t possibly look that heavy!  The shirt pattern is weird, that’s it, definitely the shirt.  Also – what’s up with the lighting?  It’s true, the camera really does add ten pounds!  Self soothe all you want but you know you look heavy because you are heavy.

Clothing is tight

Your go to outfits are feeling real snug right about now, so snug that circulation is restricted and breathing is difficult.  You’ve seen the photographic evidence too, but your not ready to turn your self over to reality, this is when you retreat to your “baggy” options that now fit properly.  Every occasion leads you to hoodies or a sweater if it’s a formal occasion.  The bagginess enables you to slink through a few more weeks of  denial.

Regressed physical prowess

You know you aren’t fit as a fiddle anymore but that’s to be expected when you aren’t consistently getting to the gym.  So what?!  I get winded going up the stairs and maybe going down too, I can still flip the switch to beast mode when necessary.

With these delusions running through your mind a physical demand will arise, perhaps a frisbee gently floats over your waist high chain link fence whilst playing catch with the kiddos.  Fret not little ones – I got this!  You spring into action, recognizing only after lift off that clearance is going to be much tighter than anticipated.  Your Lavar leap digresses to a bad episode of Cops where the criminal biffs it and is apprehended.  Laying on your back you realize that you have literally fallen off track.

How did I get here?

You stopped working out

There are lots of obstacles to maintaining a work out regime, these are some of my classic ruts:

  • Unsustainable Routine: There’s an office pool or old college buddies are doing a weight loss competition with serious money at stake.  You wake up early and lift or run six days a week – denying yourself all junk food and this works!  You lose the weight necessary and collect your bounty, but the bad news is you are totally burned out and prime for a slip back into your sloppy habits.
  • Busy:  It’s busy season at work, whether you’re in retail and Santa’s sled  is overhead or the kids just signed up for judo, violin lessons, and traveling baseball – everybody in your world needs more from you.  Your time is gone before you know it.
  • Injury:  It doesn’t matter if it’s frisbee related or not, you’ve pulled your hamstring and anytime to try to lift or run it sings at higher octaves than Pavarotti.  For the time being you will be sitting on the sidelines, which can be okay because traveling baseball season just started, just don’t eat your weight in hot dogs.

Your “Diet” isn’t being followed

We lose our way with food choices and we also lose our bodacious bod.

  • No Clear Plan:  I can’t decide if I want to be a vegan weaving hemp necklaces in Oregon or if I want to do the all meat plan eating steak 6 times a day in Omaha.  Lots of ideas are floating around in your skull but you don’t want to commit to one because you will probably just keep eating whatever you want whenever you want.
  • Not Eating Enough:  You went with the hemp necklace idea but only rationed yourself two carrot sticks for lunch.  It’s dinner now and anything that isn’t labeled toxic is sliding down gullet into your expanding belly.  Whoopsy!
  • Emotional Binge Sessions:  You just got dumped or decided to be friends instead – it’s over and now ice cream is your only friend.  A gallon into your new relationship you miss your old human relationship so you decide it might be a good safety precaution to eat the licorice rope that’s been hanging around to avoid doing something drastic – like jump rope (I backed out of the suicide humor, too dark).  You’ll eat anything if it means not thinking about your most recent emotional trauma.

Great!  We’ve attained a new level of self-realization and sufficiently mourned our wrongs.  It’s time to workout again.

Cover Image by Matt Henry via Burst