If you didn’t know, the theme of the month amongst the community is Strength and Honor. The challenge I’ve laid out is simply committing to a goal of improving your strength or reputation in some way. That could mean physical strength, emotional, mental, moral, or something else. With honor, I view it as reputation. So improving that looks like performing some act of service on a regular basis to your community or even your neighborhood.
So what am I doing? Let’s call it a little bit of self-experimentation.
Switching Things Up
I’ve been commiserating with others in the Discord server that I’d let the fitness side of things drop away over the last year. My gym was closed, and then required appointments to work out, and it just seemed like such a big hassle seeing as I had adequate exercise equipment at home for a few months.
And then a few months went longer and longer.
Finally frustrated with the situation, I started back in the gym a while ago. I dutifully scheduled my sessions with the gym for 5 AM two days per week and have been running with the Strong Lifts 5×5 program since. The progress is steady, but I can clearly tell that a year out from under the barbell has cost me.
While progress is nice, I also need to do something about the few extra pounds I picked up in the last year. Exercise is good, but you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. I’ve been meal planning and prepping for years, but I’d fallen into a trap where the meals I was making were low effort, cost-efficient, and completely loaded with the wrong macronutrient profiles.
In short…pasta became the go-to.
That’s the setup, let’s talk about what I’m doing for the rest of the month (perhaps longer), and why I’m telling you this.
To supplement my two barbell days per week, I’m adding three ays of simple (yet sinister) kettlebell work from Pavel Tsatsouline. The program is relatively simple, with each workout consisting of 100 kettlebell swings and 5 Turkish get-ups per side.
This video introduces you to Pavel, who is often thought of as the man who brought kettlebells to the United States with his “Enter the Kettlebell” program. His video style almost hilariously plays up Russian stereotypes.
Done with heavy kettlebells, this simple sequence offers a lot of challenges for grip strength, core development, endurance, and more. It’s a suitable total-body strength exercise that I think will complement my primary strength-building program.
Nutrition and Eating Pattern
Exercise and strength building is only a part of the equation. About two years ago I was very happy when I healthily got down to a weight that I hadn’t seen since the beginning of high school. I was in better shape than I was at any time during my time on active duty.
With the addition to our family and then covid, most of that progress went down the drain as I fell into old bad habits.
So the first challenge is getting back onto the right foods. That’s relatively easy with some good budgeting and smart shopping. For the record, I tend to do best on a low-carb Primal/Paleo-style diet. I’ve also dabbled with keto in the past, and saw benefits, but didn’t stick to it due to the costs involved.
The second challenge is something new: intermittent fasting. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t do well with half-assing change. I actually do much better with cold turkey techniques of just committing to a big change and then holding myself to it.
So the end result is that I’m doing two big changes at once to maximize impact.
There are a lot of ways to do intermittent fasting (IF), with the most common being to limit your daily eating to an 8-hour window. Due to my workout schedule and daily routines, I can’t do that. So my pattern is going to be eating breakfast around 7:30 AM (roughly 1.5 hours after I finish my morning workout), and then nothing at all until dinner around 6:30 PM. No lunch, no snacks, no nothing except water, tea, coffee, or other zero-calorie items.
Alright, so why am I telling you what I’m doing? I don’t normally make these kinds of journal posts. The reason is that I consider publishing this a way to hold myself accountable because now I’ve told a lot of people what I’m doing and I have to answer for that. I fully expect the guys in the Discord to give me crap if I don’t stick to what I’ve said I’m going to do.
For the month of May, I have to stick to my workout regime (2 days of barbell, 3 days of kettlebell) and my eating plan. The only exceptions are for medical reasons.
I will keep an update going with progress as it happens.
What About You?
Now that I’ve laid out my goals for this month, what are you doing with this month’s theme of Strength and Honor? Let me, and everyone else, know down in the comments.