Everything is Hard Before It is Easy (Nutrition + Workout Log)

I’m really going to miss the food out here! Feels much easier to go out to eat without over-indulging too.

And yes, I still notice some unilateral pain/soreness (hard to distinguish) on my left leg, but it doesn’t seem to be worsening, isn’t something I feel all the time, and isn’t limiting my movement like it was before, so my plan is to keep up stretching and try to keep listening to my body when determining weights. I’m optimistic!

1 Like

5 Mar Log: Rest day - two trigger sessions, decent nutrition. Gearing up for the first round of movers coming this week! Which for me means labeling and separating everything in the house. We opted to keep the gym for the second round of movers, even though I’m actually going to the gym on base more for these workouts. It’s like a security blanket, I just like having it around . . . just in case.

6 Mar Log: Great day today! Felt good on my strength workout, run felt good too. This is my last week of the ‘pre-phase’ portion of my workout plan. Next week I’ll be moving into the three-week ‘strength’ phase with lower reps and higher weight, and some more movements I haven’t done before (weight pull-ups, I’m coming for you).

BB squats: 1x13, 1x12 @ 85 lbs
Walking lunges: BW x 20
DL: 1x12 @ 135 lbs, grip strength was limiting factor
BB Bench Press: 1x13 and 1x12 @ 70 lbs
DB Row: 2x13 @ 35 lbs
DB Shrug: 2x16 @ 80 lbs
Standing DB Shoulder Press: 1x15, 1x13 @ 40 lbs
Rear Delt DB Raise: 1x14 @ 24 lbs
BB Curl: 1x13, 1x12 @ 40 lbs
Tricep Pressdown: 1x15, 1x12 @ 27.5 lbs
Plank: 2x 1 min
BW calf raise: 1x20, 1x18

Cardio: Felt good the whole run. Legs were tired from strength workout (did strength around 1130, ran around 1630), but still overall felt good and actually enjoyed the run. 10-min warm-up, 25 min at 9:04-10:04 pace, 10-min cool-down.

Nutrition: 2300 calories feels like a lot, but I know I need to stick with it for a couple weeks to really gauge whether it’s right for me. Also, since I started creatine, I figure I shouldn’t be surprised if the scale bumps up slightly due to water weight. I keep having to tell myself that because even though I don’t want to care about the number on the scale, it’s funny how even a few weeks of weighing every morning made me get more attached to some of the values than I anticipated.


7 Mar Log: Hit a new milestone with pull ups, allowed my run workout to shift to tomorrow thanks to a lovely surprise from my husband. On the balance, I’ll take it.

Strength: Rest day, did two trigger sessions. Went out for my usual pull-up/push-up pyramid, and this time did a second set of 5, highest I’ve gotten. So 1-2-3-4-5-5-4-3-2-1, total of 30 pull ups and 60 push ups in boots and utes. Pretty happy and motivated to continue improving.

Cardio: Was supposed to do a speed workout, wasn’t feeling it during the day and planned to run in the evening - but that got happily derailed, so I rescheduled it for tomorrow.

Nutrition: Came home from work expecting meal prep leftovers, and husband surprised me with duck breasts and wine. I could hardly say no! I did have the presence of mind to forgo any carbs to try and salvage overall caloric content, but I definitely enjoyed my two glasses of wine and delicious duck. My husband is 100% a keeper. :slight_smile: I’ll take the occasional nutrition hit for nights like these.


Got a little bogged down with the first round of movers and other life things that kept me from taking the time to log the last few days, but kept up with my workouts and nutrition was decently on track, aside from a couple IPAs on Saturday night.

13 Mar Log: I finished up the pre-phase of my workout plan, and today marked the beginning of the next three-week phase focused on strength. It’ll be two strength workouts per week, lower rep, trying to get close to technical failure (aka stop just before form breaks down), and trigger sessions on the other 5 days of the week. I’m excited to see what happens, though I feel like I’m still figuring out what weights are appropriate for the various rep schemes.

Box squats: 1x10 @ 45 lbs. First time trying these, went super light and will add some weight next time.
BB squat: 4x4, 2x3 @ 115 lbs
BB bench press: 6x3 @ 95 lbs, these were tough but I stuck with it

Weighted pull-ups: 2 @ 25 lbs, 2 @ 20 lbs.

  • This was my first time trying weighted pull-ups and using a dip belt. I underestimated how much more difficult it feels when I use the angled bars (typical in gyms as part of cable machines) vs a regular straight bar. I definitely think I could have gotten more reps on a straight bar, but I suppose the point is to challenge myself. Rep scheme was supposed to be 2 sets of 1-6 reps, but I think I’d like to get more towards the middle of that range next time, will need to do some experimenting.

BB shrug: 3x6 @ 100 lbs, will try a little heavier next time
BB curl: 1x8, 1x7 @ 50 lbs
Skullcrushers: 2x8 @ 40 lbs, felt my elbows and wrists a little, trying to find right grip.
Weighted decline sit-ups: 5x12 @ 25 lbs, felt these
Standing calf raise machine: 5 sets between 20-13 reps @ 50 lbs

Cardio: None today.



14 Mar Log: Trigger sessions and an easy run today. It’s interesting, I know it’s not possible that I would have gained any mass just from the strength workout Monday, but on my run today I felt “bulkier.” Maybe that’s just how my brain was interpreting a mix of increased awareness due to stimulating muscles in a way I haven’t in the past, combined with soreness.

On the bright side - probably placebo effect, but I felt stronger on any inclines I encountered on my run, and like I was able to generate more power at the same tempo. Probably in my head, but I’ll take it. Left calf and hip still get a little cranky on runs sometimes, but nowhere near what I was feeling before.

Strength: Trigger session and pull-up/push-up pyramid 1-2-3-4-5-5-4-3-2-1 for total of 30 pull ups and 60 push-ups. Feeling good on these.

Cardio: Easy run, 10 min warm-up, 25 min between 9:04-10:04 min/mi, 10 min cool-down.



15 Mar Log: I need to focus on 1) getting more sleep, have not been good this week and am feeling it, and 2) stretching. I am coming to terms with what I knew was true intellectually but am feeling physically now - and that’s the fact that combining a running and strength program meant I wouldn’t be maximizing gains in either.

I’m feeling better on my runs, but based on the last few tempo workouts I would be surprised if I hit my time goal. Legs felt heavy/sore, hips felt achy. It’s funny because you think of the military as focusing on strength, but my branch’s PT tests reward cardiovascular capability far more than strength. So while I feel like I’m in better overall shape, it won’t reflect in my score unless I run faster (I already max the other two events).

I think I’m just going to have my peace with the fact that this running program is making me faster than I would have been without it, maintain focus on progress elsewhere WRT strength and body composition, and stop expecting unrealistic results from 3 months of cardio training.

Cardio: Tempo run, 10 min warmup, 10 min between 7:49-8:04 min/mi pace, 10 min cooldown. Ran after dinner (not ideal), and struggled with the pace. Ended up averaging 8:11.



Dunno how I’ve managed to miss your log consistently, but I’m in.

Question about your diet, are you targeting maintenance calories currentl? Solid macros btw.

1 Like

That’s what I’m trying to do - this is the first time I’ve deliberately played with shifting my calories around this much vs just tracking intake, so it’s mostly an experiment to see what works or doesn’t work.

Originally I wanted to drop 8-10 lbs to lower my body fat percentage, and an intake of 1800 calories did that pretty quickly.

Now I’m fiddling around to figure out what maintenance looks like - I think 2300/2400 cal seems to be fairly stable, but I’m really in a learning stage figuring out what works for me, how my body responds to different intake, how it makes me feel, etc. I’m enjoying the tinkering aspect of it all.

1 Like

Summary from the past few days:

16 Mar Log: Rest day, did pull-up pyramid again (felt tougher this time, but still hit my 1-2-3-4-5-5-4-3-2-1), 8-min plank workout (2 min front, 1 min each side x 2 without resting).

17 Mar Log: The current three-week phase of my workout calls for two lifting days/week. I definitely felt my body working to acclimate today with exercises and weights that I either haven’t done before or haven’t done in a long time. Lower body felt stiff/unhappy from Monday’s workout, but I’m optimistic that a good chunk of it is the typical ‘introductory’ soreness that should settle down as I continue through this phase.

Good mornings: 1x10 @ 45 lbs, initially tried 65 lbs and was a little surprised at how heavy that felt. Backed off so I could maintain good form.

DL: 6x4 @ 155 lbs. First two sets felt almost too heavy, but felt progressively smoother each set.

OH press: 5x4, 1x3 @ 65 lbs. This felt challenging but appropriate.
Rear delt flyes: 2x8 @ 20 lbs (10 lbs each hand).
DB shrug: 2x8 @ 110 lbs. Grip is limiting factor here, but I need to get stronger there anyways.
DB hammer curl: 2x8 @ 20 lbs (20 lb DB in each hand)
DB OH tricep extension: 1x8, 1x7 @ 35 lbs
Hanging leg raise: Bane of my existence; hanging from the bar makes my right shoulder, which has a history of subluxation, feel like it’s about to pop out. I tried a few sets and got frustrated with myself. Next time I’m just going to modify to either use the leg raise station or get those ab sling/straps so I can prevent my shoulder from limiting me.

Seated calf raise: 3x8 @ 50 lbs. First time doing seated calf raises, these surprised me at how heavy they felt compared to standing.

18 Mar Log:
Short easy run, strong head wind the last half of the run that had me feeling fairly worn out. Nothing worth writing home about, but got it in.

Need to get a long run in some time today, went out last night and while I didn’t drink excessively, we stayed out until around 0130 and that alone has me feeling fairly discombobulated today. Apparently I’m getting old.


From eyechrometer, macros and calories look great. If you’re like my wife (a carboholic), you could lower fat intake down to 0.3g/lb BW and increase carbs to fill the rest. Less than that 0.3g/lb tends to negatively affect hormone production, but some folks still feel better with a higher fat content than that (which is fine).

If you’re really interested in the experiment (and the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’), I’d strongly recommend the Renaissance Periodization book “Renaissance Woman”… that book is a treasure trove of info that I’ll be using for both my wife and daughter for years to come. It gets into the science behind dieting and training surrounding the female hormonal cycle as well, if that sounds like your kind of thing.

Do you/have you tried engaging the hell out of your Lats, as if it were a straight-arm lat-pulldown? If you have, and it hasn’t worked - those ab straps that go under your elbows are pretty awesome.

Anyways, I’ll stop spamming up your log with unsolicited advice :sweat_smile:

1 Like

I like carbs, but what I’ve noticed is that I also like eggs, and the option to eat meat that might be higher in fat content. That’s most of the reason I have my fat higher now, though I might be able to play with the ratio a little bit. Some days I’m pretty glad I have that wiggle room for the fat content, other days I’m eating handfuls of walnuts to hit the target.

I’ll check it out! Thanks for the tip. I’m on BC so don’t necessarily have a normal cycle per se, but always enjoy learning.

I’ve tried maintaining engagement, but maybe I’m just weak hah. At this point I’m more willing to just invest in the ab straps, though I may experiment with timing dead hangs and engaging from there to see if I can build up at all. Pull-ups don’t bother me at all, so I’m thankful for that.

I appreciate the advice and engagement! It’s why I’m posting on a forum vice keeping it all written in a notebook after all.

1 Like

Well. Plan for the week is going to need to adjust. My unit is undergoing one of the big inspections we have every two years, and part of it is they’ll pull a random 10% of the unit to run our seasonal PT test. The purpose is so they can evaluate whether or not our training folks are administering the test correctly, but the score still counts for the individuals running it.

I’m one of the lucky 10%, so looks like I’m taking my PFT (physical fitness test) about 3 weeks earlier than anticipated - in two days, to be exact. So, going to be hydrating and stretching the next few days. I don’t feel too good about my run, but it’s going to happen one way or another.

The PFT consists of:

  1. Max dead-hang pull ups. 11 is max points for my age group/gender. I typically don’t have an issue maxing, as long as I’ve been practicing. They are usually stricter during the inspection though, so we’ll see.

  2. Plank for time. Legs shoulder-width apart, resting on forearms straight out in front roughly shoulder width apart (can’t clasp hands in front of you, but can either have flat hands or hands in a fists). Max points for all ages/genders is 3:45. This is a newer aspect to our test and first time it’s mandatory for everyone. I can hit 3:45, though it’s not easy.

  3. 3-mi run for time. This is what’s going to hurt. I’ve been doing a running program, but think I set a little too ambitious of a goal. 21 mins is max points for my gender, but I’m nowhere near that now. I’ll be happy if I can get sub-24:00, based on how my runs have been going in my training program, though I’m betting anywhere between 25:00-23:30 is possible.

While I always perform more than well enough for an overall score, I still get insanely nervous about the test every year. As long as it’s within the same semi-annual period (so for this, 1 Jan - 30 Jun) you can re-take the test as much as you want (most current score is what goes in your record), so if I really flub it or the inspectors are super picky about pull-ups I can always re-take it. But I get so hyped up about it that I’d have to do pretty poorly to want to relive the experience more than once a year.

Bright side: Weather looks good for that day, and one way or another, it’ll be out of the way. As long as I don’t completely tank it, it’ll be done and I can focus fully on what I want to do for fitness without looming over me. At least until next year.


Well, PFT results were disappointing. I took the week off to let myself mope/recalibrate, but now I’m ready to get back at it.

In short: Pull-ups felt light as a feather, plank was no problem. Run time was 2 mins slower than last year and my slowest run time ever (25:40 - that surprised me). Part of it is that humidity spiked that day well beyond what we’ve been experiencing, and it was windy for half the course. That, and finding out two days before the test was far from ideal. But really I can only blame myself. I should be able to beat that time even on a bad day as far as the standards I typically hold myself against.

I could retake it, but even if I was a minute faster, that’s still only six additional points. The score isn’t poor enough to affect me in any way career-wise- it’s just pride and my own standards.

So, I’m taking this as a warning shot across the bow, and not letting it happen again. I’m going to use what helped me run my fastest in the past - no special program, no focused speed work - just run 3-4x a week at whatever pace feels good, around 3-5 mi each time, consistently. At a minimum, I’ll build a better base.

It is somewhat of a relief (even if it’s a bitter one) to feel free to focus on what I want to do for fitness on my own terms for awhile, at least until the next semi-annual test. Primary goal is consistency. Pick a program, stick to it, and see it through. Rinse and repeat (not necessarily same program, but maintaining a habit).

27 Mar Log

Box squat: 1x10 @65 lbs. Felt these a little bit, may tweak weight a bit more.
Back squat: 3x4 and 3x3 @ 115 lbs. Trying to focus on good form vice grinding out questionable reps.
BP: 6x3 @ 95 lbs
Weighted pull-ups: 2x3 @ 15 lbs with angled bars. These are tough, but the angled bars always feel tougher.
BB shrug: 3x6 @ 115 lbs. Grip strength feels more limiting than anything else, but I think I’m getting closer to figuring out the appropriate weight range.
BB curl: 1x8, 1x7 @ 50 lbs
Skull crushers: 2x8 @ 40 lbs
Weighted decline sit-ups: 4x12 @ 35 lbs, 1x12 @ 25 lbs. Realized on the last set that the incline wasn’t as deep as before; I think on these, more weight isn’t necessarily going to make me better, since the larger weights feel much more awkward to hold. Will have to experiment with this movement.
Standing calf raises: 4x15 and 1x14 @ 50 lbs

Nutrition: Fell a little off the wagon last week, but getting dialed back in now.


28 Mar Log: Sore today, left hip/calf are still getting noticeably more sore/tight than my right side after stringing together consecutive workouts. I suspect it’s because my disc is probably still healing. Right now just using it as a warning sensor but not overly concerned. It certainly does prompt me to stretch much more throughout the day than I normally would.

Strength: 3 trigger sessions including pull-ups/push-ups. Going to aim for 30 pull-ups on trigger days in whatever configuration of sets and timing works for that day.

Cardio: 4 mi, no pace goal at present other than putting in the mileage and running what I feel like that day. Have to admit it felt really good not to feel compelled to check my watch all the time. Also going to try running without music for awhile - I think it may have been making it harder to stay in tune with my body. You can see in the chart where I hit the pedestrian overpass stairs/bridge at the beginning and end of the run, which I think skews my pace average a bit.



29 Mar Log: Two trigger sessions and a 3-mi run. Meant to get a third session in, but we out for yakiniku and I promptly fell asleep on the couch with the dog soon after we got home (I am convinced Indy has the ability to cast a sleeping spell by collapsing on top of you).

**Cardio:**3 miles, felt better than I expected. Started off with my husband; he’s following a different program so the first 10 mins was a slow warm-up pace, then we parted ways.

Went out for yakiniku for dinner, and didn’t quite feel like trying to estimate intake in the app. I will say I think I was fine on carbs, may have gone slightly over on fat due to the cuts of meat. It’s always hard to tell quantity since the meat is typically sliced so thin - but, I didn’t feel stuffed at the end (even with a tiny scoop of ice cream), so I don’t think I did too much damage.

Today is a ‘true’ rest day, just some trigger sessions, but no running or strength training.


31 Mar Log: Coming down with a cold, but pounded water yesterday and napped, which I think helped. Didn’t feel terrible today, trying to do the same to keep it that way - fluid and perhaps a 1-hour nap mid-day. Helps that we have a 96 (four-day weekend) so extra time to recuperate.

It will be our last long weekend in Japan. Hard to believe it’s been three years - it’s a shame we got here in the summer of 2020. Japan shut down hard during the pandemic, and we ended up trying to cram 3 years of travel into a year and a half as things opened back up. I’m excited to go back to the States, but feeling that mix of sadness with the excitement because there are a lot of things I’m going to miss about Japan as well.

Good mornings: 1x10 @ 45 lbs

DL: 6x4 @ 155 lbs. Grip strength feels like a limiting factor. I know I can use a switch grip if needed, but I’d rather just get a stronger grip. Ordered some grip strengtheners towards that end - though could be between 1-3 weeks to receive them.

OH Press: 2x4 and 4x3 @ 70 lbs. Really was grinding out the last rep each set (which is counter to the program, which recommends I pick a weight that leaves me with 1-2 reps “left in the tank” for each set . . . was just feeling a bit stubborn today)

Rear delt flyes: 1x6 @ 30 lbs (someone had the 10 lb DBs so had to use 15s), 1x8 @ 20 lbs. Might switch to using the cable machine for these - someone showed it to me and I feel like it might be a better choice to really focus on the movement. Or at least an option if my DBs of choice are taken.

DB shrug: 2x8 @ 115. Again, grip strength is what limits me here.
DB Hammer Curls: 1x8 @ 20 lbs, 1x6 @ 25 lbs (each arm)
DB OH Triceps Extension: 2x8 @ 35 lbs. Will increase weight next time.

Hanging Leg Raise: 5x10. Thanks to the advice of folks here, I got some ab straps. Very glad I did! Way different sensation than leg raises on the stationary ‘machine’, I assume because of the difficulty stabilizing. Felt challenging yet feasible.

Seated calf raises: 2x15, 1x12 @ 40 lbs. Still figuring out how to use this machine, think I had it only partially off its resting arm because it clanged down in between sets 2 and 3. :-/

Nutrition: Standard breakfast, chicken bowl for lunch. Will take some protein powder before dinner to make sure I hit protein goals; we’re going to see a magic show (supposedly it’s pretty good) and grabbing dinner beforehand tonight.

Side note: Yesterday I felt cavalier enough to try a new burger place that my husband suggested. I figured, “I’ll just stick with the burger itself, no sides, should be fine.” Got a double patty ‘for the protein.’ Added it into my tracker afterwards (estimating two four-oz, 80% lean patties) and good lord, there went my fat allocation for the day. Ended up having protein powder mixed in plain Greek yogurt and rice with some soy sauce (separate from the yogurt) for dinner because I was trying to find a way to avoid spiking my fat allocation any higher. That’ll teach me - single patties from now on, unless I want to budget everything around a single burger.