A major secret to success is to hold yourself accountable for failure. Dan John refers to it as "the Alpo diet" where you have to eat a can of dog food if you break your diet. Failure in my case means missed workouts or meals. So this log is my can of Alpo, but if anyone actually ends up reading this, feel free to offer advice. But most importantly give me a hard time when I screw up.
For about 8 months I would start a new program, make my own "improvements", get disappointed in my progress, and repeat. Sure I gained a few pounds, and got a little stronger but I was just starting out. Finally, I said fuck it and decided to follow Starting Strength (practical programming novice). That was about 3 weeks ago. It's a short time, but I'm satisfied.
Simple, heavy lifting is satisfying in a way that I can't explain. I started too heavy on the squats and had to back down and work my way back up. I may be doing the same for the other lifts, but there's no way to know until I fail. My goal before I go back to school at the end of August is to rank intermediate according to these standards: http://www.exrx.net/Testing/WeightLifting/StrengthStandards.html. It's a stretch for the deadlift, but I expect that I'll be able to go beyond that on all the others.
Here it is, just for the record:
Chinups 3x Fail
Pull Ups 3x Fail
My lifts to date are (all in blue):
Squat- 185 x 5
Bench- 135 x 5
Press- 97.5 x 5
Deadlift- 195x 5
I've gone from ~6 to ~10 on the chin ups to failure, all while gaining weight. I will start adding weight when I get to 15 reps like the program says.