I was preparing to put together a new list of health goals when I realized that I never did a follow up post to Health Goals – Last Year and Today from April 2009. Shame on me. Anyway, here were the 3 goals I wanted to focus on at that time.

  1. End Back Pain (Core, Alignment, Flexibility) I’ll do a post just on this item later, but let me say this it priority #1 this year.
  2. Build Muscle and Strength I’m a dude. This will be on my list until my last breath. I do intend on doing a 100 pound weighted pull-up for 3 reps.
  3. Fat Loss Although I’m happy with where I am at, I stumbled on some information Sunday morning that I believe will result in additional fat loss this year. Let me just say that a new experiment has begun.

How did I do?

End Back Pain: A+

I figured it out and it had nothing to do with “Core, Alignment, Flexibility”. For 10 years, I falsely believed that I if I were only more disciplined about doing back exercises that I’d be pain free. Turns out this was a false assumption. How did I end my back pain? See the posts How I Figured Out the Cause of My Back Pain andThe Psychology of Back Pain.

Build Muscle and Strength: B-

This one is actually a combined score. For the rest of the 2009 I actually lost strength (D). I think I was too aggressive with fasting and carb restriction. And in 2010, I slowly and unenthusiastically recovered those losses (C+). Then in late 2010 and 2011, I switched over to High Intensity Training and made my first real muscle gains since 2001-2003 (A).

I never did the 100 pound weight pull-up and that is OK. I no longer need to risk injury demonstrating strength with technical moves. The goal now is to fully engage and fatigue muscle fibers as safely and efficiently as possible and then allow time for recovery. It was the act of giving up the weight and rep goals that allowed me to give HIT a chance.

Fat Loss: A-

Back then I assumed all my fat loss was coming from carb restriction. I now believe that although cutting carbs as an overall strategy was helpful, the most benefit came from eliminating wheat and cooking my own meals. In April 2009, I was still eating some wheat when outside the house. It wasn’t until January 2010 that I went 100% gluten free. Since then I’ve increased my starchy vegetable and rice intake without an increase in weight.

When I wrote that post, I was working on a fat loss experiment that showed promise. I was doing multiple fasted workouts per week. It worked for a while, but eventually I ended up losing strength doing this strategy. So it was fine for fat loss, but backfired on my strength goals. These days I address fasted workouts differently. I use BCAA prior to lifting and immediately afterwards. Followed by a high carb refuel. Back in 2009, I stayed too low in carbs post workout. Lesson learned.

In April 2009, I was just hitting Level 1 on fat loss. These days I bounce between Level 2 and Level 3, with a bias towards Level 2. An explanation of these terms is at Moving Up The Leanness Levels.

In addition to my experiments with carb and gluten restriction, part of the fat loss credit must go to Intermittent Fasting. And I also suspect that Cold Weather Exposure helped at least in the beginning.

Things That Weren’t Goals

I also corrected two things that I never listed as goals. Removing gluten cured my rosacea and consuming bone broths removed that morning stiffness my joints sometimes had. Later this week, I will outline a new set of health goals.