Hey, whaddya know, a blog entry!

Just figured that I would log an entry since it’s been six weeks without an update. There’s nothing too major going on these days but there are a lot of relatively small things happening.

First, hookgrip progress is coming along. And by that I mean the actual website. In terms of the facebook page, it passed 10,000 likes a few weeks ago (on January 15th). And on Feb 6th, it will be one year since I started posting pictures on the hookgrip page seriously. I would say that 10,000 likes in a year without having a website and with very minimal advertising spending (I spent around $60 at one point, as an experiment to see how it would perform) is a very successful year simply on the facebook presence front. Of course, facebook traffic is not super valuable and it’s pretty limited with regards to what I can do with it (ie, the moderation options are quite weak, apps are difficult to install on a page, lots of limited functionality, etc) so I really need the site to be up soon. Right now I have two separate programmers working on separate projects related to the site. Once those programmers wrap up their work, it should be relatively simple to bring their work together and launch the site in a matter of weeks. The problem is, neither of them is done yet. So for right now, I’m doing what I can to be as ready as possible for them to finish their projects and get the site rolling when I have their work completed.

Secondly, on a personal level, my gym (CrossFit Center City, in Philadelphia) runs something called the BCCC every quarter. Since I’ve been there for nearly 1.5 years, I’ve seen a number of these come and go. It stands for “Body Composition Change Challenge” and the general idea is to set goals and stick with them for 30 days. Some people want to achieve performance goals, some people want to gain weight, some people want to lose weight, etc. For the most part, my goal over the last 1.5 years was to gain weight and get stronger with the overarching goal of just feeling relatively good. I came into things at around 180lbs and, mostly on purpose, ended up at ~208lbs as of three weeks ago. Of course, not all of the 28lb gain was muscle but that’s how things tend to work when you’re trying to gain weight. My general attitude is that it’s very easy to cut fat on a periodic basis in the long-term process of getting big/strong. So I took the Jan 15-Feb 15 BCCC as an opportunity to do one of those cuts. Of course, my goal was not to starve myself of calories in the hopes of losing as much weight as possible. I want to retain as much strength as I can. Instead, my goal was simply to eat no processed food, very little sugar and lots of protein. Not only did I know that that sort of diet would result in weight/fat loss, I also was curious to see what sort of effect the dietary change would have on me. After all, I’ve never been this strict about my diet ever.

The results have been pretty amazing. First of all, I’ve gone from 208lbs to 195ish in a few weeks. I say 195ish because I’ve been as low as 194 but that was first thing in the AM and I always tend to weigh the least then. If I was to step on a scale right now (11pm at night) I’m sure the number would be between 195 and 196. So given that I’m 17-18 days in, I’m happy with the weight loss. While losing weight was definitely not my number one goal, I am happy to lose some of the fat that came along with my strength gain. I’m sure that I will slowly put fat back on when this cutting period ends but I’m okay with that as long as muscle comes along with it. But, more importantly than the weight loss, I feel absolutely incredible. Sure, I feel hungry here and there. And I’m a little sick of bacon, eggs, beef, chicken, sweet potatoes, other veggies, etc. But for the most part, I look forward to my meals and I enjoy them. And I have higher energy levels. Not to mention that inflammation in my joints is all but gone. It used to be that the first 3-4 warmup sets of squats would be quasi-torture. Even getting up off the couch at night would result in some decent aches and pains. But I wrote a lot of it off as just being a natural side effect of lifting to my max or close to my max on a daily basis. As it turns out, that was wrong. Considering that I’ve been lifting just as frequently (and about 95% as heavy, which is understandable given the weight loss) with zero issues, I think that there’s a pretty good chance that I had some inflammation in my body from my comparatively poor diet. As I’m sure you know, things like gluten can cause a LOT of inflammation for many people and a lot of them are totally unaware of what’s going on. Considering that I’m a very gluten-aware person and I didn’t bother to attribute my stiffness to my diet just goes to show that these things can be hard to track down. I’m noticing a lot of other health-related benefits as well so in that sense, I’m extremely happy with the BCCC thus far. The real issue is how to get back to gaining weight once I come off of this diet. I obviously don’t want to just go back to eating inflammatory foods but it’s also quite hard to gain weight without those foods. I will likely have to research this more and possibly become a better cook as well.

Also, on a sidenote, the BCCC essentially requires (you can opt out, but it’s discouraged to do so) before-after pictures and measurements. So I may or may not post those in a few weeks. We’ll see. Just for my own tracking, I do own an ultrasound bodyfat tester (this one) and I tested myself a few days ago and came away with the following:


This particular tester calculates bodyfat by measuring the thickness of the fat layer at various points. I know that essentially every bodyfat testing method has flaws but, as I understand it, this is probably the best at-home system to use. I certainly wouldn’t bet on it being exactly accurate but it’s a lot better than anything else that I’ve been able to find. And it does seem to reflect my changes in body comp so it’s at least getting the general idea correct. I would have loved to test myself at the beginning but unfortunately the tester stopped working and I had to send it in for repairs and I only got it back about two weeks into things. That’s okay though, the before/afters should tell the story.

Anyway, outside of those two things, the only real news is that my early April trip to Bulgaria has now become an early April trip to Albania. For whatever reason, the European Weightlifting Federation decided to move the European Senior Weightlifting Championships a few months prior to the event. It’s going to cost me a few hundred dollars in change fees but there’s not much I can do about that. So, yea, I’m going to Tirana, Albania. I’m excited because I booked a business class ticket using miles and I’m going to be in a USAirways Envoy Suite (a GREAT product, it’s an amazing seat — I flew it from Frankfurt to Philly this past summer coming home from the Olympics) and then I’m going to be in Austrian Airlines’ new business class product on the way home. They just released a new seat (you can tell that I’m a frequent flier nerd) that’s supposed to be pretty freaking awesome so I’m pumped about that. Sometimes being a little crazy about earning points pays off.

Anyway, that’s the update! Hope everyone has a great February!

2 thoughts on “Hey, whaddya know, a blog entry!

  1. Nat Post author

    I thought about flying through Dubai just for the shower. Or Changi in Suites Class just for the double bed. But in the end I settled for boring old business class.

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