T Nation

If Only I Knew...


#1

...years ago, about this site.

(kinda long Old-Man-Newbie post)

New member. Old lurker. I think I have devoured every article and serious forum post on this site over the last couple of years. Damn, I wish I had learned this stuff decades ago.

41 years old now. Army veteran who was way too far into running and "bodyweight" exercises for my own good. At 39, I finally realized that running marathons was not going to get me the body I wanted. So I started weight training, making all the mistakes skinny newbies make, such as:

-- trying to get big without losing my distance running ability (I thought I was some kind of special-snowflake who could master both worlds simultaneously)
-- having difficulty switching from a runner's diet (carbs!) to that strange stuff containing protein (meats?)
-- and getting nervous whenever my abs became blurry.

Luckily, because of this site and the knowledgeable community, I finally feel I am on the right track.

Lots of funny memories on the way. Here's a bit of the Before-and-After:

Before:
My wife (also an Army officer and my marathon running companion) TOTALLY freaked out when I started getting serious about lifting. She was absolutely convinced I was nuts by giving up running and focusing on weight training. I caught so much flak from her when my diet changed ("Oh my God! How many eggs do you eat a day? Your CHOLESTEROL!!!"). I almost felt like I had to hide my food, just so she didn't freak out. She thought my Whey was some kind of steroid or something.

After:
Recent old-man's doctor visit with full blood panel showed that EVERYTHING tested was not only in normal ranges, but was within OPTIMAL ranges. Including cholesterol! Go figure! Even the doctor mentioned that he has never seen anything like it, though he did point out that the BMI scale suggests I should really focus on getting my body weight under 165lbs... can't win them all.

Needless to say, my wife now has no negative comments on my exercise choices, and lots of positive comments on the body transformation!

Before:
First time I decided to add squats to my workouts. Hey I'm a runner, this shouldn't be so hard. I have "strong" legs, right? So I confidently stride over to the "curl-rack" (That is what everyone uses that contraption for anyway) and, with no warm up, I "squat" 135. It was somewhere deeper than a quarter squat and well above a half squat.

This is easy! So I slap on two more 45s, for a brilliant attempt at 225--promptly pulling my back just trying to get the bar off the rack! I re-rack the uber-weight and stagger out of the gym in embarrassment. Took a whole week of pain to recover from that one, though I hid the pain from my wife to avoid the "I-Told-You-Weights-Were-Stupid" comments.

Similar situations with other compound lifts. Getting pinned on bench with what probably would have been Mr. Roger's warmup weight, etc.

After:
Focused on building strength with compound lifts over the last year. While I'm still weak by even my own standards I have made great (newbie) gains, so it is encouraging. I can now ATG squat 335 for working sets, bench 245 (admittedly with a bit of a grind), and my deadlift has finally hit that elusive 405 mark!

At 5'10" I went from a 170lb-when-sopping-wet stringy marathoners body to (currently) 225lbs with about 10-12% BF (not concerned that my abs are slightly blurry now--having too much fun growing everywhere else!)

I actually am growing these weird things called Delts, and Quads, and gasp Lats! Shit, I had to Google "Lats" when they started coming in to figure out what the hell they were! (Ok, I'm exaggerating that point, but I never had them before and they actually felt weird to me when they started to grow).

In short: I'm having the time of my life, but man, I wish I had started doing this decades ago!

Oh well. Just wanted to give a Old-Man-Newbie's perspective and say thanks for all the wisdom most of you impart on this site!


#2

You're a great writer. Entertaining introduction. Welcome!


#3

Welcome aboard.

I eat over 50 whole eggs a week and my Cholesterol is very low. Keep at it.


#4

Welcome Latestart. That's awesome progress in only 2 years.

You might be interested in the book Protein Power. It's written by a couple of MD's and explains how high protein, low carb diets do wonders for health. It lists a bazillion medical studies backing up all that.


#5

Good stuff! Glad you turned from the dark side.

BMI is a crock! I laugh when my bmi informs me I'm obese.


#6

Welcome! I am new to the nation as well. I felt the same way as you did. "Why didn't I do this sooner." Through alot of help from a wonderful friend who saw something in me that I didnt, I came out of a severe depression and started living life again. If it wasnt for him I probabaly would be in a very bad place right now. Keep up the great work and above all the positive attitude! A late start is better than no start. Kudos!


#7

Welcome...enjoyed the intro post.


#8

I have the wife converted to the benefits of a high protein diet. Heck, I came home from work last night and she already had the grill lit up for me with a stack of steaks and buffalo burgers waiting for me to cook.

Actually, does anyone know where I can find authoritative discussion on the problems of soy protein in young males? I have read some concerns about soy on developing males on this site, but it seems rather anecdotal. I discussed it to her, because for a while she was giving a lot of soy milk to my son (who doesn't have any lactose intolerance or allergies to regular milk products--her reasoning was that "soy milk is healthier").

I'd like to provide some information to her, so if anyone knows of actual (conclusive) medical studies on the topic, I'd appreciate it.


#9

Type, soy protein, in the search box, top right of this page. All the ammo you will probably need.


#10

Oh, and thanks for the compliment on progress, but I have a long way to go yet.

To say I'm "very disciplined" would be an understatement. A bit fanatical would be more accurate.

I have no problem with very clean diets. Actually, my biggest problem is getting enough calories in since I'm used to existing on very little food and sleep over long periods of time (from military days). For a while there, even getting 2800 kcal felt like force feeding. I'm ok with it now, though. Cheating to me is adding a bit of cream to my coffee, putting some raisins in my greek yogurt, or having an extra snack of some calorie dense food such as almonds.

I think that the best benefit to starting late is the fact that (after gaining education here) I have fewer bad habits to break. I never participated in the "International Bench and Curl Day" that is celebrated each and every day in the gym, so although I started weak, I didn't have muscle imbalances to overcome. I was just weak all over.

That is not to say that I was a stranger to intense workouts. It is just that all I ever cared about before was "endurance." For example, all I ever did for "upper body" was pushups and situp/crunches. Yes, I know "situps" are terrible for you, but they were required for the Army PT test, and success in that was all I really ever cared about. Doing 300 pushups in one workout was common--but I never, ever, attempted to bench press. And it showed.


#11

Great intro late and welcome. I was thinking about going into marathon running...then I changed my mind. You have made some great progress already...and with more to come. Keep pushing!!