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Scott's Column
The Hulk... and the Diet & Exercise Plan

November 1, 2010
By Scott Lewis

This month I am dedicating this column to my insane approach to fitness with the crazy idea of going to a costume party as The Hulk... Lou Ferrigno style... using body paint and nothing but my own muscles. I started the weight loss so I could look intimidating in t-shirts that were one size too small... and then the idea of this costume came to me when a friend said he was having a costume party.

The Goal... and where it came from

Last month I told you that I wanted to lose 20 lbs. before going to the Star Wars Convention wearing Star Trek t-shirts. I reached my 20 pound goal two weeks after the convention at the end of August. Once I reached my 20 lbs. goal I was waffling on whether I should continue losing weight... just to see if I could do it. Then a friend told me in early September that he was going to have a Poker Game/Costume Party.

My first reaction was to get a Superman costume. Not some cheesy costume from the fly-by-Halloween costume shops, but a high quality costume that could show off my new physique. Well, not finding anything good (not even online at any price... buy or rent), I started thinking of the Green Lantern what with the new Ryan Reynolds movie coming out soon. Again, I could not find any really good costumes that could show off my REAL muscles. But while thinking about the Green Lantern I thought I would get a Lantern Ring that would light up... and maybe those theatrical contacts to give me green ey... wait a minute... green eye contacts... The HULK! And it was as clear as could be that I should push my exercise and diet to the extreme for September and October and go to the party as The Hulk!

It was perfect, but could I really pull it off? I figured I would need to get down to about 200 lbs. to make this look good. Surely The Hulk cannot have love handles. And so the goal was set... get down to 200 pounds and paint myself green to be The Hulk! This is where I usually talk about any gaming I normally do for the month.

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Weight Loss Progress

Here is my weight progress from the beginning. I actually started in late June. I was on my diet for a bit before finding a scale, so I just assume I lost 1 pound before officially weighing in.

                   Week's  Total
Date      Weight   Gain    Gain     Notes
                         
Start   = 235+
6/30    = 234      -1      -1
7/7     = 232      -2      -3
7/14    = 228      -4      -7
7/21    = 223      -5     -12
7/28    = 221      -2     -14
8/4     = 218      -3     -17
8/11    =                           On Vacation
8/19    = 217      -1     -18
8/25    = 215      -2     -20
9/1     = 215       0     -20       Binged after reaching
                                      goal
9/8     = 214      -1     -21
9/15    = 214       0     -21       Very BAD weekend of
                                      eating, needed to
                                      add aerobics to
                                      workout
9/22    = 211      -3     -24       Aerobics are paying off
9/29    = 210      -1     -25       Off diet for charity
10/6    = 209      -1     -26       Starting to plateau
10/13   = 207      -2     -28
10/20   = 205      -2     -30
10/27   = 202      -3     -33       Gained 4 lbs, did lots
                                      of aerobics to get
                                      back on track
10/29   = 199      -3     -36       As close to goal day
                                      (10/30) as possible

As you can see my gains were mostly steady. However there were some hiccups. I only lost 1 pound in two weeks while I was on vacation. No, this was not muscle mass lost as I used the gym in the hotel while I was away. But it was very hard to eat right when eating nothing but restaurant food and fast food.

I did not lose weight the week after hitting my goal. I binged out quite a lot that night and that weekend. And I had not thought of The Hulk yet. The week I went off diet for charity was when my area at work was in charge of cooking food for a United Way fundraiser. I was in charge of cooking the sausage on the grill. I weighed 214 pounds that day when I left work (9/28). So I went into the gym and burned 1000 calories on the elliptical machine that night and managed to come to work and weigh-in at 210. That's 4 pounds in 1 day.

I also gained 4 pounds from Friday to Monday on the weekend of Star Trek Fan Days (10/23). I weighed myself before leaving work on Friday (10/22) at 203. Then that Saturday I ate waffles for breakfast, a chili-dog for lunch, and a Philly cheese steak sandwich for dinner... with fries. To top that off I went out to dinner with a friend on Sunday and had a lot of Mexican food and a very large Margarita. So I did another 1000 calorie spurt that Tuesday night (10/26) and managed to not only lose the 4 pounds, but also got back on track with a net loss of 3 pounds for the week.

Finally, I weighed myself on the Thursday before Halloween (10/28) and I weighed 202. I really wanted to hit my goal by Friday (I only weigh myself at work), so I did another 1000 calorie workout that Thursday evening and... Bazzinga!!! I hit 199 pounds of Friday, 10/29. I reach my goal with 1 pound to spare.

I have not thought of another goal... yet. So initially I know I just want to stay between 200 and 210 pounds.

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Exercise Plan

My workout is fairly simple. I do about 40 minutes of weight lifting 4 days a week, and supplement that with time on the elliptical machine for aerobics. Here is my weight lifting routine:

Day 1 (Chest & Back)

Bench Press with Barbell on guides 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Incline Bench Press with Dumbbells 2 or 3 sets of 10-12 reps
Wide Grip Lat Pulls 3 sets of 10 reps
Narrow Grip Lat Pulls 3 sets of 10 reps

Special Pull Downs 3 sets of 10-12 reps
Special Push Ups 3 Sets of 10 reps

Chin Ups 2 sets of as many as I can (usually 6-8)
Pull Overs 2 sets of 12-15 reps

Day 2 (Arms. Legs & Shoulders)

Squats with Barbell on guides 3 sets of 10 reps
Preach Curls with cable (single handed) 3 sets of 12-15 reps
Standing Curls with cable (two handed) 3 sets of 12-15 reps
Tricep Push Downs 3 sets of 10-12 reps
Tricep Pull Downs (single handled, palm up) 3 sets of 10-12 reps
Shoulder Shrugs with Dumbbells 3 sets of 15 reps
Military Press with Dumbbells 2 or 3 sets of 12 reps

I perform Day 1 on Monday and Thursday, and Day 2 on Tuesday and Friday in the morning before work. I need to clarify Day 1's workout. I listed 8 exercises. I only do 6 at a time. I had to eliminate chin ups because my elbows were hurting too much. I also had to lower the weight and increase the reps for the curling exercises due to the pain in my elbows. I may get back to the chin ups, and increase the weight on my curls if I can do so without hurting my elbows (yea, old age I think).

I stopped doing pullovers in place of the two special exercises. I got these off of a website describing how to build up the Serratus Anterior muscles for physical therapy reasons. These are the muscles next to your rib cage, under your arms. I always thought they looked really cool on bodybuilders. So I took the exercises and jacked the weight as high as I could. You have to get seriously lean for the Serratus to show through. Since I was getting down to about 5% body fat I thought I would work these and see if they showed up (they didn't... yet).

As I said, I supplement the weight lifting with using the elliptical machine. I chose that for three reasons:

1) Low impact to knees and ankles.
2) You get more of your body involved by holding/working the handles.
3) You control the speed while the machine adds resistance.

With a treadmill the machine provides the speed, and it is much less effort than really jogging or running. And the bicycle doesn't do it for me with all the effort in your legs only.

I was going to the gym to do the elliptical machine for 40 or 60 minutes each night I did not have my boys with me (about 4 nights a week). Toward the end I went even when I had my boys. In the last two weeks I added 30 minutes on the elliptical machine each morning after lifting weights.

Yes, I worked out a lot... especially those last two weeks. But that is the true secret to weight loss... eat less and exercise more. Of course there were the two extreme workouts I mentioned above when I went for 1000 calories on the elliptical machine.

I am going to reduce my workouts to 4 days a week. I will either do a light lifting routing followed by a quick run on the elliptical machine each day... or I will switch to a full body workout twice a week and the elliptical machine twice a week. Time will tell... unless a new goal comes to me!!!

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The Diet

Normally I hate the word diet. I usually think of it as eating right. However, my eating for this goal was so extreme that it was a diet, no getting around that.

Let me start by saying I did something I have been telling people for years they need to do... remove the emotional attachment to food. When I would tell people that they always responded that I never do that. Of course my response to that was always, "Do as a say, not as I do!" Well, for this endeavor I actually followed my own advise and stop thinking of food emotionally. You know you do this when you say things like, "I love pasta," or "I ate because I was feeling bad," or "Let's go out for dinner to celebrate." All these things and more are the enemy of weight loss.

My diet became very extreme because I was having such a hard time finding foods that were good for me... AND I would like to eat. I eventually stopped trying to find acceptable side dishes and settled on a strict diet of... meat and V-8. I would eat whatever meat I would normally eat... and have a glass (or can) of V-8 juice. This was my lunch and dinner for the last three months of my exercise & diet plan.

The meats I would cook were nothing special. I love my ribeye steaks (oops, is that an emotional attachment), and chicken parmesan as well as those daily cooked rotisserie chickens from the grocery store. Those rotisserie chickens are great. They cost 7 dollars and I can make 6 meals out of one. Each breast is a meal, and each leg/thigh is a meal. Then I take each wing and add whatever else I can de-bone from the bird for the last two meals.

It was very easy to do this for lunch at work. Just pack the meat in a plastic container with a can of V-8 juice. I would eat it at my desk while watching videos on my Zune HD (see, there is at least one piece of technical information in this month's column).

Granted... I only ate like this when I was alone. When I had to cook for my sons I would eat what they ate... and would usually have to get in an extra session or two on the elliptical machine to make up for that. And I had no trouble going out with friends and eating whatever I wanted.

For breakfast I would make a protein shake. Don't start thinking it was some chalky, nasty tasting drink. It was not. I would take one scoop of protein powder and add that to one banana, some milk and ice. Put it in a blender and it was so good it was like dessert for breakfast. I originally went with Amplify Smoothie from GNC. I let the guy talk me into it. It really was so good tasting I had to stop myself from eating too much of it. I would put 2 scoops of protein powder in the shake on the mornings that I lifted weights. And I looked forward to those mornings.

When the Amplify ran out I bought 100% Whey Gold Standard Natural. This did not taste as good as Amplify, but the 5 lbs. of Amplify was $65, while the 100% Whey was $45 for 5 lbs. I could not justify the extra $20. The 100% Whey still tasted very good, and I still found myself putting more and more powder into my shakes, struggling not to put more than 2 or 2-1/2 scoops in on lifting days.

The protein shakes are so tasty that I plan to continue them whenever my boys are not over for a weekend breakfast.

When I started the aerobics I also added a basic daily vitamin. I took it in the morning with my protein shake. I just used a basic multi-vitamin. I did not go for one of those mega vitamins that mostly make expensive pee. I wanted something in case I was robbing my body of something important as I reduced my eating.

I expect to resume eating regular foods. I will just keep my portions reasonable. People that truly know me wonder how I managed to eat so little when normally I eat so much. Prior to this past four months I could safely say I ate more than anyone I knew. On the few times I binged during the past 4 months I was not able to eat as much as I used to. My stomach has shrunk. I want it to stay that way.

So I may go back to eating bad foods, but I will keep the portions smaller so I don't gain back the fat. Moderation and portion control are the key to keeping the weight off.

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The Hulk

Once I decided to be The Hulk for the costume party I could not do it half way. I used Nair to remove the hair from most of my body. Arms, legs, chest, back & stomach. Yea, I am crazy this way.

I bought a relatively inexpensive airbrush with compressor for $129 online. This was a HUGE bargain compared to Hobby Lobby (my local hobby store) which had their cheapest quality airbrush for $109, and their cheapest compressor for $144. The airbrush in the kit I bought online was the same as the $109 one from Hobby Lobby, but included 3 tips sizes, not just 1. Plus I got a compressor for $20 by going online and shopping around. Cool.

I ordered body paint... the kind they do those "face paintings" with at carnivals and stuff. There are two basic kinds... water based and alcohol based. Obviously, water based washes up with soap and water. Alcohol based is "rubbing" alcohol based, and cleans up with rubbing alcohol.

I went with an alcohol based paint. I could not find any reliable information online telling me which was better for full body painting. I chose alcohol because it should not come off as I sweat. PLUS... knowing what I do know about paint and airbrushes... you have to thin paint to spray it. For instance, with Testors model paint you would mix the paint with the paint thinner/cleaner to get it to a consistency for spraying.

I assumed the same would work with body paints, and a paint with rubbing alcohol as a thinner would be better than watered down water based paint. In the end I am probably going to get better consistency with painting at the expense of it taking a lot of work to clean it off.

BTW... This is my friend dressed as Slash. Little did he know he inspired me to lose an additional 15 lbs.

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Meeting The Original Hulk... Lou Ferrigno

Two weeks after my costume party I am going to go to Austin Comic Con. Lou Ferrigno is going to be one of the guests signing autographs. I learned this less than a week before I would be dressing up as The Hulk. I had to capitalize on this. I took some test pictures in front of the TV paused on Lou Ferrigno in the TV Show of The Hulk. He is HUGE!

I set my TV for vivid instead of THX. I tested this out and in THX mode during the day the colors were not vibrant enough for a fair comparison. I definitely want to print a picture of me next to the TV at 8 x 10 (or maybe 11 x 14). I am going to use the picture at the top of this page. The shade of green came out the closest in my test shots. I plan on taking this to Comic Con and have Lou Ferrigno sign it. That will be very cool... to me anyway.

I will have to report on the meeting with The Original Hulk next month. Hopefully he will be willing to take a real picture with me... holding the picture I will bring for him to sign. Now THAT is cool!!!

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Conclusion

There you have it... my crazy idea to be The Hulk and all the work I did to get there.

This really did feel like I was training for a part in a movie or something. I used to tell people that I could look like Stallone if someone paid me a million dollars to train for it. Well, I am pretty close to looking like Stallone from Rocky III. I am 5' 10" which is about the same height as Stallone, and in the movie Rocky III they announced his weight as 202 lbs. when he fights the wrestler, and then 191 lbs. when he fights Clubber Lang in the end fight.

So I weigh about what Rocky did in the beginning of Rocky III. How much work would it take to... wait a minute... do I see a new goal here with another crazy incentive to...

We'll just have to see what happens!!!

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