Lean like a Navy SEAL: What! No Drinking?

Level 4 Crossfit Seattle, Medium Plus

An anti-lean pattern emerges.

Over the last few months, I have been tasting dozens of great wines, not to mention the haphazard cocktail or hop-supplanted brew. These fine libations inspire my humor and creativity, and feed the beast that is the Medium Plus engine. Or so it seems. I have also been enjoying copious piles of shiny poutine, Seattle dogs, and Cheeto-stuffed Cornish game hen.

Lately, I have noticed a pattern emerging of feeling sluggish. Nothing against gastropods, but I would rather be sharp and agile, perhaps like a dragonfly. I have also noticed a steady tightening of my leotards, which is disconcerting at the least.

This does not imply a state of inactivity. For many months, a steady practice of Olympic-style weight lifting and sport climbing has had me going strong, at least five times a week. My strength, endurance and flexibility have continued to increase, much in opposition to a tighter belt. Our culture at large would have us believe that exercise is the main path to a lean physique, and it turns out to be just part of the puzzle. Possibly a peppercorn amount. I’m sure that underneath, my physique is ripped like Brad Pitt from Fight Club, although it’s just hiding for now.

Why be lean you say? Well, for a few reasons. First of all, I want to still fit in my fine blue houndstooth peak-lapel suit, which I love so dearly. Also, as hard as it is to admit, I think it just looks and feels better to be lean. Lastly, it’s a personal challenge to overcome. Much like studying for a difficult exam, the process is long-form, and the final mark of success is a reflection of a dedicated path. For me, the mark of success I hope to achieve is a lean mass percentage of 85%. Attainable, healthy, and beyond my reach so far.

Enter Jim Hein, and a plan.

Jim is a Navy SEAL veteran and high-level fitness/nutrition coach, on the staff of the gym I attend, Level 4 CrossFit Seattle. You can read a bit about his bio here.

Following a great session of squats and burpees, Jim and I got to talking about my body composition goals, and the Medium Plus blog. He suggested that I start tracking my meals, to get an idea of my typical nutrition. From there, we could tweak or eliminate various food types, in an effort to get results. We agreed that a written account of the process would be valuable, thus the article you currently see.

So here’s the plan, which officially starts today, October 1st, 2015:

  1. Record every meal, snack, and caloric drink each day, with appropriate detail.
  2. Record every workout session, with a brief summary.
  3. Compile the results, and post a weekly summary on the Medium Plus blog each Thursday.
  4. Keep the weekly reporting going for at least four weeks, and gauge progress. Nick and Jim will discuss and refine the process along the way, hopefully with big results.

Now here’s the kicker: no drinking. This was an idea that Jim mentioned in regards to his own nutrition plan, and I decided to hop on the train. Running some crude numbers, the calories add up quickly. Assuming polite drinking habits: 2 drinks per day @ 150 cal/drink = 2,100 calories per week. Multiply that by four weeks, and we’re up to 8,400 calories. Add in the dirty burgers and Cajun fries that often accompany a fine evening of revelry, and the situation begins to look bulky. The reputed estrogenic effects of alcohol along with hangover-induced productivity loss are other factors to earnestly consider.

Understand that I’m still a huge advocate of good food, good drink, and good company. Wine, cocktails and fine food has become a cornerstone of my life and career, and I’m not ready to become a full-blown teetotaler just yet. The Medium Plus engine will continue to serve, study and discuss the world of elevated wine and cocktails. Its author will simply be abstaining temporarily, perhaps gaining the mental discipline of Bruce Lee in Dragon-mode.

This should be a fun and challenging experiment, and I am excited to share the results with you. Should you want to pursue a similar plan with Jim, visit his profile on the Level 4 CrossFit Seattle site to get in touch.


Nicky D

Day One
October 1st, 2015