LGN 39: Fitness Anniversary

Inside: Keepin’ it real; A yearly update; Hot, sweaty yoga action; A year ago, this week; Slippin’; Mental blockage – progress and regress; What’s wrong with me?

Ladies and gentlemen,

A year ago this upcoming week, I started training at Underground Athlete with Justin Case.

A year ago, Feb. 9th, I started yoga at PIES Fitness with the “My Body Don’t Bend that Way” class. Thanks to Marsha and Malyssa for such a welcoming and constructive environment.

A Better Fitness Journey Blog

Thanks to Moon and her Twitter feed, I found this. Consistently well written and executed blogging. Always informative, entertaining, relevant, inclusive and inspiring. I want to blog like this when I grow up.


A Year’s Worth of Update

  • Depending on when I started counting, I’ve lost about 35 lbs. since a year ago. Or 44. I’ve had to buy smaller clothes twice now. I’m on the cusp of having to do it again. When I get down to 190ish, I’ll invest in new suits and grown up clothes.
  • Uh, let’s see. Doin’ fine. Making progress. Having trouble staying disciplined when it comes to eating <; 100g of carbs per day and exercising outside of workouts/classes. I could have lost the weight I've lost much quicker, to be honest with you. But … I didn't.
  • I’ve been intentionally and consistently cutting back on workout gadgetry. Heart rate monitors ‘n things like that. I love numbers and charts and graphs, but the pattern has been established. (I don’t think I can get away with giving up the food logging, though. I keep trying and every time I stall out.) I do the Heart Rate Variability measurements. They will become more important when I get back into the swing of mountain biking.
  • My weight is bouncing around 200 lbs. More about that below. It’s been a while since I got my body fat percentage checked.
  • I’m getting stronger. Definitely getting fitter. I’m still having trouble with some of the barbell related sets due to form and wrist/shoulder/? flexibility. This month is an easy cycle, relatively speaking, but I’m still being humbled.
  • I returned to yoga at PIES after a few months of hiatus. Got out of the rhythm. I’ve done the Hot Yoga on Friday after work. It’s great. Just the right amount of exertion and very relaxing. I have to get back to Wednesday nights and get a tastes of Malyssa’s Budokan class. When I’m not worried about recovery.
  • This is the first Fall/Winter in my life that I’ve gotten stronger, lighter, fitter and faster. It’s amazing. Without reservation, I can tell you that strength training is the best investment of time and money that I’ve ever made. The yoga helps a lot with recovery and flexibility. One day soon I won’t need to bring my yoga strap with me.
  • I still need to get some kind of massage therapy, though. Justin keeps telling me. I keep putting it off. I’ve never had a massage before. Human physical contact is a rarity. And what I wouldn’t do for a soaking tub.
I’ll get some pics up soon. Before and after. How soon, I don’t know, but they’re coming.

Shapes and Sizes

Sometimes when I’m talking to people or reading blogs, editorials and articles around the net, I find that there’s a consensus that the unrealistically flawless and super-skinny image of women in the media is intolerable. I have a reactionary response to that. Like, “real” women have curves and blah blah blah. But skinny women are real women, too. The media is full of pathos and the images they try to project into our psyches are disturbed and artificial. Plastic and lifeless. Photoshopped to the point of Barbie-dom.

But the more fit (or fit-aspiring) people I meet, the more aware I become of how we all have our optimal selves just waiting to be unveiled. Our bodies want to move, push, pull, run and flow.

My body is a cage
That keeps me from dancing
With the one I love
My mind holds the key

People seem a little surprised when I tell them I was obese by a few standards of measurement. I’m just that sexy, I guess. Seriously, though, 5’7″ and nearly 250 lbs. Muscularly stocky or not, that’s no good. Even though I had more gut as evidence … well, let’s just say that 50 lbs. of fat is a LOT of fat and it was probably around my organs.

As much progress as I’ve made, I’m still uncomfortable with myself, physically. I feel … flabby.

Mental Block

That brings me to a problem I’m having. I have a mental block right now. A 200 lb. mental block. That was my goal weight for a long time and then I reached it. I want to get down to 190. Not just because it’s a nice round number, but also because that would put my BMI into the “healthy” range. I used to be obese. Now I’m just overweight.

I want to get to 190, not just because of the BMI thing, but because it sure would be a heck of a lot easier to do a pull up with ten less pounds. It would be a heck of a lot easier to -up anything with ten less pounds.

For some reason, though, I’m having a lot of trouble focusing. My food discipline is lagging. I’m having trouble motivating myself to move outside of the gym and the yoga studio. Outside of my structured exercise times. You’d think it would be easy for me at this point. I’ve been finding that my brain has been very contextual lately. For example, when I leave work I totally forget about work stuff. It’s in a file in my brain somewhere and the door to that room gets shut when I leave the office. When I’m sitting around on a Saturday after I get home and cleaned up from a workout, I slip into another mindset. It’s like I forget about all the possibilities out there. All the things I could be doing or places I could go.

Like, I forget that I could join a Meetup.com hike with minimal effort. It keeps slipping my mind. I forget that I need to get my mountain bike mechanical issues dealt with. Or bite the bullet and buy a new one. It’s weird. Then I’ll be driving to work and boom. Tons of ideas start flowing.

I’m not sure what my deal is.

The good news is that the days are getting longer. This is typically the time of year when I blossom, for lack of a better or masculine word. Something in me wakes up. Come on, Spring!


I would like to thank the PIES Fitness crew. It was weird being a fat, out of shape dude doing yoga but they were always encouraging and inviting. I’m less chunky now, but I still look weird in the mirror. It’s not just a room full of stereotypical yoga models. All shapes and sizes and experience levels. Don’t get me wrong. But they are so strong and flexible with regard to their own bodies. I’m in awe every time I go there.

I can do the Crow position for a few seconds now. And a tripod headstand consistently. There’s a lot I still can’t do, but I’ve come a long way, baby.

Underground Athlete
I would like to thank Justin Case and the Underground Athlete crew. Looking back where I’ve come from. I remember the first time he had me do hip flexor stretches. It was awful. Incredibly uncomfortable and mostly painful. My shoulders still tire out relatively quickly, but they’re functional now. They were in awful shape before. I was in awful shape before.

I remember many months ago a young, plucky me rounding his back on the last rep of a set of rack pulls. 185 lbs. A rack pull is the upper half of a deadlift. Justin said, “Don’t round your back.” What did I do? Rounded my back and sproing! I felt something give in my lower right back.

I had a fear of 185 lbs. after that. Now I’m doing reps of deadlifts with, what was it last cycle, 210 lbs.? I mean, I know that’s not a record of any kind. There are people out there deadlifting twice that much but that’s a huge improvement. To go from, “Uh oh. I’m not sure about this” with 185 from a rack to “Okay, how many reps?” with 210 from the floor.

Justin observes weak points and designs a program to address them. He targets your interests, too. Sometimes you come across people in your life and you see them do what they do and you think, “Damn, they’re good!”

Justin Case is damn good at what he does and he is not one to rest on his laurels.

I’ve learned a lot of things that I’ll be able to use for the rest of my life even if I don’t have the opportunity or resources to have a good coach. I was daydreaming today about having an impromptu workout and running my nephews through a Finisher. And then the rest of my family coming into the yard, going through warmups and starting off with plank position. Buying kettlebells for my parents so they can build a little muscle and for physical therapy purposes. There’s a new library and community center in Turner Station and I briefly thought, “I could do a lot of good if I got some kind of certification or training.”

Just a stray thought. Heck. I could do a lot of good teaching basic computer skills. Class #1: Keyboard shortcuts. Anyway.

My muscles now do what muscles are supposed to do. No. My body now does what bodies are supposed to do. I can do some work! I’m looking forward to seeing what else I’m capable of.

My only regret is that I didn’t start functional strength training a decade or two ago. I didn’t know. And I didn’t know that I didn’t know.

So yeh. Kudos to Justin, Matt, Sara, Cristal and all the UA trainees. Keep it up.

A Call for Help

Before I go, I could use something from you, dear reader. Well, let’s start here. This would help me out a lot.

  1. What are some low carb snacks that keep you going through the day? When you get bored with snack 1, what’s your snack 2? What works for you?

Click here to see all of my LGN (I want to Look Good Naked) and functional strength training posts.


Add Yours
  1. sara moore

    Gary, I’m so grateful to be able to witness your progression and journey. It’s also enjoyable to read what’s going on inside that head of yours, because when we see each other, we’re usually gasping for breath. (At least I am lately with these damn sled suicides!)

    I’m the queen of snacks, and everyone I work with knows it. In fact, we could set up a shelter in place in my office. I eat something small every 3 hours or so, but I have the low blood sugar thing to contend with. My top 10 favorites:

    1. unsalted almonds. Trader joes sells them in wrapped, pre-portioned bags to prevent mindlessly going through a pound which I could do.

    2. fat free greek yogurt with some berries. If too tart, I’ll add just a touch of agave or honey. I mean half a tsp.

    3. baby carrots and hummus.

    4. Blue bonnet brand chocolate protein powder and almond milk. Shake it up, and it tastes like sin!

    5. hard boiled eggs

    6. unsalted, brown rice cakes with almond or peanut butter. Buy the butters from trader joes…no added sugar.

    7. crisp, granny smith apple, cut in slices, dipped in peanut/almond butter. I have these little plastic to go dishes that I portion out the butters and hummus in order to avoid the over indulging thing.

    8. Kind bars. My favorite is the almond/macadamia/protein version. They have them at Wegman’s.

    9. Baked sweet potatoes. I can eat them hot or cold. I’m a sweet potato eating fool. Trader joes sells a bag of organic that are fairly small and taste so good. Put a little cinnamon on them, and if you need it, a touch of honey. YUM! (I’m baking some now as I write this.) I keep them in my mini-frig at work. 🙂

    10. Water. Sounds crazy, but I’ll have a gallon on my desk and just try to drink it throughout the work day. It’s amazing how you want to eat, when you’re actually just thirsty.

  2. garyarthuryoung

    Thanks, Sara.

    This is all going on my shopping list.

    It’s a big head. Mostly full of echoes. 🙂

    I’m glad to be where I am and with the people I’m with. It definitely would not be the same without you.

    Have you started daydreaming about the sled suicides yet? It’ll happen.

  3. Janna

    It’s been quite a year my friend. I’m so glad you’ve kept this blog so those of us a few thousand miles away can still be inspired. 🙂

    My fave low-carb snacks in order of fave-ness:
    1. homemade beef jerky – you can control how much sugar goes in and it doesn’t cost a fortune like the store-bought stuff. does require some effort though.
    2. hard-boiled eggs.
    3. string cheese – just buy and eat.
    4. raw almonds – just pour out a few to avoid overeating. I find I have slightly less penchant to overdo it with the raw ones than with the toasted.
    5. I hardly ever do it, but celery with something yummy and filling on it, like cream cheese or almond butter.

    Not super low-carb, but Jeremy and I are both fans of Primal Pacs. (primalpacs.com)

    • garyarthuryoung


      How are you doing? Less than a month away.

      Heck, I’m glad you still check in. You’re the one who helped push me over the edge and into strength training what with your adventurous self.

      Thanks for the suggestions. That is some good info. I got some stew beef. It’s good for chunks o’ jerky. Well, pseudo-jerky, the way I do it but it’s still dang good.

      I’m all over this list, too.

      Stay tuned, my friend. We’re going onward and upward.

  4. cristal

    Gary it’s so awesome to see you progress on this journey. You should be so proud!

    my favorite snack lately is half of an avocado with bacon pieces on top. i just spoon it out and it is a quick, easy and tasty snack. sooo good!

    • garyarthuryoung

      Thanks, Cristal.

      It’s been some year. I wonder what an update a year from now will look like.

      You had me at bacon. And avocado. That sounds absolutely amazing.

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