Going Full Circle: A Realization In Training.

Recently I've stumbled; we all do eventually, sometimes repeatedly. I look back on better days as if I have no hope, no chance of ever besting myself. Well I am about to change that. It is time for a new goal to return to my previous glory.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Like many of you out there, I do not want fitness and health to be my life. I like letting go once in a while and just forgetting what's healthy and not. I do not want to become obsessed with body image. Like many of you, my deepest passions lie elsewhere. But it is because I enjoy life and aspire to live it to its fullest that I ended up learning about fitness and nutrition.

I feel that in order to take full advantage of this magnificent body and mind bestowed upon me, I must keep it functioning optimally. I think this is where we "average" people - with passions lying elsewhere - hold our perspective.

Recently I've stumbled; we all do eventually, sometimes repeatedly. I look back on better days as if I have no hope, no chance of ever besting myself. It is truly sad to see someone as young I am reminiscing as much as I do. We should learn from the past, not live in it. Yet from where I stand, the greenest grasses grow on the other side of a burning bridge. Under my feet is the sticky, fuming burn of black, summer asphalt. Let's push things forward ...

Abstractly I am painting a picture which represents my understanding of the state of my current self. This is not only in regards to athleticism, but all facets of life. They reflect on each other. Insufficiency has a tendency to start in small, hidden corners, undetected, until the spread is nearly all encompassing and your prison is your life. But even after giving up hope, it will remain in defiance, in compassion.

Learning From the Past

I remember the longest distance I ever ran: 13 miles. The feeling I had after this accomplishment was like few others. I was literally high off the experience, detached and floating in a miniature heaven as I stumbled out of the park gate trying to calculate how far I had gone.

The sun was setting and bursting the sky apart in streaks of yellow and red and in that moment, the number didn't matter. I knew I had done something great, utterly annihilated a challenge that I didn't know existed until I passed it by.

That was almost exactly three years ago and I have yet to come even close to that mileage again.

It was around the same time that I hit my lowest body fat ever at sub 10% levels. I was also faster and more flexible than I ever have been since. I slept better. I ate better. I learned better. I lived better.

Simply Doing

    And the poignant part is that I wasn't trying to do this, I simply was doing it. No time was wasted searching for that elusive magic bullet.

    Instead, I just focused on my training and nutrition and took pride in that instead of seeing it as a battle to be won or lost.

    I have even lost what I had in the not so distant past. Earlier this year I was using Molecular Nutrition's X-Factor and enjoying rapid gains in both strength and size.

    I was up to a lean 170 pounds. My squat was at its highest ever at 300 pounds for 10 reps and 315 lbs. for 6 reps.

Succumbing To Records

    Then something happened, the kind of thing that cannot accurately be described in words; the kind of thing that you don't even realize is happening until it has already happened.

    In any case, that thing put me where I am right now at a bodyweight of 155 pounds and struggling to squat 230 pounds for 5 reps. At the end of every set I stand gasping for breath, staring out the window, wondering why instead of surpassing my old records I have succumbed to them.

A New Resolve, A New Plan

This is where it starts people, and you can come along for the ride as long as you don't mind bumpy trails. 'Cause this trail I can see is littered with exotic and familiar obstacles, many of the same obstacles we all face.

Long Term Goal

    My New Long Term Goal Is:

    • To reach 180-190 lb. at 10-12% bodyfat
    • Add an inch to my upper arms and calves
    • Add 2-3 inches to my upper legs
    • Add 4 inches to my upper torso (chest)
    • Add 1-2 inches to my shoulders

    • Furthermore, I intend to regain my past flexibility and once again run 13 miles.

    Never before have I set such specific goals for myself. But specific goals are important as they allow one to closely map out a plan and perceive progress. They also don't allow you to bend the rules as easily as generalized goals like "I want to get in good shape" have a tendency to do.

Short Term Goal

    Before I can start working towards my long term goal though, I must begin with the shorter-term goal: to get in the sub 10% bodyfat range. I feel it is best to get lean then run a clean/lean bulk rather than do a sloppy bulk and then try to cut without losing muscle.

    Is The "Bulking Phase" Excuse Enough To Gorge Yourself On Junk Food?

    It's also overall healthier to stay in good eating habits all the time. I know many people (myself included) have used the so-called "bulking phase" as an excuse to binge on junk food. Such behavior can develop into lifelong bad habits and a set-up for failure.

    What this log is is a way for me to stay dedicated to my plans as well as show what I learn and what I do in order to achieve my goals. This way others can learn from my experience.


    Above in this article I mentioned the "magic bullet." Well, the thing is, it doesn't exist. The only real magic bullet is dedication. You must sweat in and outside of the gym and yet be content with your decision.

    See the choice to change as a battle and it will be a battle and you will have to fight. See the choice as an effortless breeze, and you can let it surround you comfortably.

    One pound of fat equals about 3500 calories. This means that in order to lose one pound per week, I must be in a weekly caloric deficit of 3500 calories. But I intend to lose 2-3 pounds per week ... do the math.

Weekly Caloric Deficit Calculator.

Enter Number Of Pounds You Wish To Lose Per Week

Caloric Deficit Needed Per Week


The start of this new plan begins on Wednesday, August 10 for me. Strange time to start, I know. Most people like to start at the beginning of a fresh new week. But I just cannot wait any longer. It's now or never.

Soon I will update with all of my stats, numbers, diet and exercise outlines as well as supplementation. This will be a running, long-term log and a testament to the power of planning and the will to push things forward. Let the change begin!

Until next time,
Joel Tietge

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4