I don’t know.

First, a shout out to some grappling girls I’m very fond of! The Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championship was this past weekend in California. My online and real-life friends Jen W, Jen F, Addie, Hillary, Lisa, Rachel and Val competed and tool home medals. I hear the divisions were HUGE this year – blue belt lightweight had something like 22 women! Congrats to the gals mentioned above, as well as to everybody who got out there and did their thang.

Yesterday was the last day of my initial four-week training cycle. I ended my first cycle with an average of a little over 2 lbs of fat loss every week. I start my second four week program today with a moderate intensity week… moderate by my standards, pretty hard for most people’s, I think. I’m training about 11 hours total, but there are no conditioning or interval workouts, and minimal strength work.

Reasons this moderate week is well timed:

  • I’m experiencing adrenal fatigue, which is pretty normal given my training volume. This has apparently led to an insane craving for salt, so bad that I took to eating Hawaiian Sea Salt straight from the little container.
  • I started my new job today, which means my life is a-number-with-several-zeroes-behind-it less stressful than it has been.
  • I am competing at the Copa Ontario this weekend. It’s a gi tournament, so I’m not particularly looking forward to it, but whatever. I don’t even know if I’m going to have somebody to fight. Anyhoo, if I compete then it’s good to take it easy in the week leading up to the tournament, so this relaxing week is just what I need.

Do you want to know what I’ve learned so far? Here are some details and observations, in no particular order.

  • I have lost 10 lbs, John measured me last Tuesday at 15.7% bodyfat. When I started, Geoff measured me at at 21.7% bodyfat. I think both were relatively low, which means I think my absolute lean mass number is probably lower than it looks, but the proportion of fat vs LBM lost is still striking. People in the gym are already seeing a difference. The fat loss/LBM retention on this program is quite impressive.
  • I am able to sustain a very high volume and intensity of training, as long as my training and nutrition is periodized well.
  • The biggest reason for my success with this nutrition plan was that I always had food with me. If there are no other rules you follow in your diet, follow this one: prepare your food. Because I spent 20 minutes every morning building my meals for the day, I always had exactly the food I needed to have. I had my regular meals, my post-workout meals, my supplements, and written notes on anything else I was supposed to do (like how much water or tea I needed to have). I put all of this in containers and carried them with me when I left the house.
  • I had almost no injuries. At the end of last week I had some swelling in my lower back and a tight psoas and rectus, but two acupuncture treatments and two ART treatments later I’m all better. This afternoon my doctor proclaimed my recovery “miraculous”.
  • I experienced minimal increased hunger for the first three weeks; in fact, I rarely felt the need to eat more, and it never drove me crazy. This last week–the highest training volume week–was definitely worse than any of the other weeks, but still manageable. (I did go a bit medieval on some rutabaga and yam frites yesterday. By medieval I mean I ate most of a large yam and probably pretty much a whole rutabaga.)
  • I am significantly stronger than I was when I started with Geoff. The guys I am rolling with have noticed it and started commenting on it. Oh, and last week I beat my previous barbell bench press record by one rep – 3 reps at 135 lbs!

Before I started this program, if you had asked me if you could get stronger, leaner and better conditioned all at the same time, without drugs, I would have said no. Now it’s obvious that you can, and even do it at a rate of weight loss that’s over 2 lbs/week.

How did this happen? Well, the details are for John and Geoff to explain, but here comes the lecture anyway.

This was not some innate skill or gift that I have for getting lean and fit. I was never an athlete at all. Two years ago I was over 200 lbs. I got the short ends of the genetic and personal history sticks, with my apple shape and my upbringing in the deep fried, high sugar, pre-packaged industrial food culture of the southern US. I had food habits that would make Ronald McDonald cringe.

My results so far are from a combination of science and enthusiasm. I got smart people to review my life and my goals, and to give me a plan to meet them. I reviewed that plan, asked clarifying questions, and listened to the answers that the smart people gave me.

Next… this is the super secret key to success that I’ll share with you…

I did exactly what they said.

I didn’t second guess them. I didn’t argue. I didn’t negotiate. I did exactly what they said. And you know what? It worked.

I followed the plan they gave me for a simple reason: it was clear that I couldn’t get to where I wanted to be by doing what I had been doing. How do I know that? Because what I was doing was not being a lean, incredibly strong 132 lbs. If I had known what to do, I would have done it. “I don’t know; will you help me?” is just about the most powerful and life-changing sentence I have ever uttered.

To get a head start on my new life, last Wednesday night I went to Miranda and told her I wanted to do something different with my hair.

Alaina's new bright pink hair!

To celebrate my departure from the corporate world, I dyed my hair pink.

“What are you thinking?” she asked me.

“Pink”, I said. “I’ll trust you to decide what that means.”

And so she did. With her kids screaming downtairs, Miranda went at  me with scizzors, a razor and a fantastic permanent hair colour. Two hours later I looked in the mirror and the drab gotta-grow-my-hair-long mane became a fabulous multi-toned, face-framing, bright pink celebration of freedom and joy. Booya.

Watch me relate this story to the rest of my post: Miranda is an expert. If I had sat in her chair with a definite idea of what I wanted my hair to look like, it would probably be yet another boring style, because I know even less about hair than I do about nutrition and strength training.

Now I have the kind of hair that makes people stop me on the street to ask me where I got my it done. I’m well ahead of my body composition goals, I’m happy, I’m strong, and I’m able to sustain a training intensity that would make baby Jesus cry. Why? Because I said, “I don’t know. Will you help me?”