Thursday, August 15, 2019

Fitness Update: Return from Pennsic

Confession: One reason that I have been hitting the workout trail so hard is to both look good and move well at the Pennsic War this year. For those unfamiliar with Pennsic, here is the trailer for a documentary I made with Simply the Best G.A. West:


So I went to Pennsic. In the year that I was in "the worst shape of my life," I would go out to the battlefield in the morning to marshal the battles (I was recovering from knee injury) and that knocked me out for the day. In successive years I made sure I had some fitness going on so I could marshal or fight and still recover soon enough to do things before the sun went down. This year I can say that such was the case again.

I only fought one battle due to my shoulder injury. It was the bridge battle, and no, I did not hurt myself worse. In the four rounds, I died in two "glory charges" against an advancing enemy and the killed three people in one battle and one in another.

I marshaled other battles, and though I was capable of being active the rest of the day, it actually turned out that I did not go around much. I felt an overall felling of low energy the entire event, and it was not the same kid of out-of-shape fatigue I had before.

I suspect it has to do with diet and energy drinks. Because I am currently working multiple jobs and long hours many days, I frequently don;t get much sleep and use a variety of energy drinks to keep myself going. Depending on the time of day, the task at hand, and what is available I may use 5-hour energy, Arizona Extreme Energy, Red Bull, Monster, or some random alternate-brand energy drink that is low-cost, on sale, or right in front of me. I have learned when it's time to chug and when to sip. I know that one does not have to finish a whole can in one sitting. Sometimes I believe the taste of a 5-hour energy is more Pavlovian or placebo in its effect, and make sure I am not hungry when I use it so I don;t wash the taste from my mouth.

At Pennsic, I made an effort to not use energy drinks as much as possible. I did not quit cold turkey, but for the most part I was able to avoid them. This may have been why I felt low-energy so much. Fortunately, except for marshaling and fighting there was not much need for energy this year (and those activities usually pick me up by themselves, no chemical additives necessary).

I also notice my diet was different at Pennsic than in NYC. On most days I have a big bowl of high-fiber cereal in the morning, a lunch of rice & beans with roast pork or bacolao and a dinner of leftover lunch or (if at my overnight job) a roast beef hero. This diet also includes 2% milk, orange juice, and snacks of nuts and dried fruits, chocolate candies like Snickers Peanut Butter and Reese's Nutrageous, and yogurt. The occasional chicken burrito, lamb gyro, pork shish-kebab, or ice cream cone gets in there as well. And I drink green tea every day.

With this diet I had been maintaining a small gut that has stuck with  me for the past few years. I was just starting to see some results from the Insanity workouts and switching to vegetables instead of extra beans for lunch.

At Pennsic I ate less, and was more careful about what. I had cereal, yogurt, and orange juice at breakfast, but when given the option at lunch or dinner, I would choose a salad over french fries. I would have a double scoop of ice cream after a battle and a moderate turkey-and-ham cold-cut sandwich later for lunch, and not eat again until dinner. There was little rice, no pasta, and again, few energy drinks. There was also less snacking (though I did make sure to have a couple of pickles every day).

When I got back to the city I looked at myself. I was slimmer! I don't know if I lost weight (I don't own a scale) but my serratus anteriors had returned! I did an Insanity workout and I was not feeling that fat roll on my back!

Now the question is: can I adjust my NYC diet and keep up my exercise level to maintain and advance these gains?

And more intensely, what will my forthcoming shoulder surgery mean for my fitness regimen?

Stay tuned!

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