Amsterdam, Noord Holland, The Netherlands.
Today we measured my body fat again, tomorrow marks the end of my social life. That will be the day that Evolve’s Hypertrophy Camp starts. What is hypertrophy, you might ask. Muscle hypertrophy involves an increase in size of skeletal muscle through an increase in the size of its component cells. In normal English: hypertrophy camp makes you a ripped badass. Only downside: only if you follow the rules to the dot. And the rules are pretty strict.
Apparently I am carb intolerant. I knew that a ‘low carb diet’ was good for me but it seems to be going in the direction of a ‘no carb diet’. That will be just eggs, meat, fish, nuts, seeds and veggies for me. No pasta, no bread, no sugar, not even a bit of brown rice. Look, I love my buddies at Evolve and I really respect the vast knowledge of the human body of the founders Mike and Sander. But I hate the casualness with which they squeeze in my back, look at each other and say ‘yup, carb intolerant’. ‘With your body type you can’t eat any carbs for nine months. That way you can completely wean of carbs and then perhaps slowly reintroduce them into your diet.’ What? Nine months! That feels like receiving a prison sentence! It is not that I am such a sweet tooth but it requires a lot of discipline. And I just love breaking rules.
When I started this journey towards physical fitness one month ago my body fat was at 25.8%, last week it was at 18.4%. It is very pleasing to see the progress in numbers. But today the body fat was up again where I was convinced it should have gone down. I watched my food so strictly. But many factors influence the composition of our body. ‘How did you sleep last nights?’ asks Mike. ‘Well uh, good I guess. Apart from the mosquito in my room’ I respond. ‘Ah! A mosquito! Ruins your sleep quality! There you go’. What else did you do different last week? ‘Uh well, I didn’t have my cheat meal’. (I thought that not cheating would be a good thing). ‘Ok, have your cheat meal tonight then’ ‘You are damn right I will have my cheat meal tonight since I am going to carb prison tomorrow, my friend’
I confess, I feel a bit frustrated. But I think the lesson is how complex our body is as a biochemical machine. It works as an equation but is not a simple equation. It is a very complex equation indeed. There are rules and protocols but you have to learn by trial and error. It is interesting how much there is to learn. You think you have your diet and training right but then there is sleep as a factor. Also, my Rebellious Me had some a Club Sandwich out of protest. But if I am honest it doesn’t sit straight in my stomach. I have to admit to myself that my body likes bread less than me. I never knew that. I honestly believed I liked bread. But now that I eat it a lot less it strikes me that my body doesn’t respond too well to it at all.
I like training, I like unknown territory and I like physical, mental and spiritual challenges. So in a way I am looking forward to the challenge ahead of me. Also I should mention that I think my potential P.R. agent liked the idea of me having a ‘Men’s Health body’, I think she saw a way to increase my marketability. But I am a bit scared too. 12 weeks is a long time and the protocols are strict. I don’t mind training hard but I am a bit concerned about the time, effort and potential frustration of the daily meal preparation.
Yesterday I took a peek at the website of a famous gym in London. They have similar programs and a similar philosophy to Evolve. It was looking at their examples of successful body transformations that gave me a reality check. At Evolve’s website you will find amazing examples of Female Fat Loss Camp (the female counterpart of Hypertrophy Camp). By looking and reading the London site I realized that men should have more impressive results than women, just because men have testosterone. We are genetically and hormonally a lot better equipped to build muscle. That means that I am up for something so impressive that it somehow intimidates me (how to live with an extremely good body?) or that I have an opportunity to fail (I can’t do the diet). And since I decided to write about it: once again I have created an opportunity to fail publicly. The double edged catch. Damn.
Did I mention that I want to meet a lovely girl in the (very) near future? I find it quite important that the outcome of this mission is somehow beneficial to that mission. So failure is not really an option. Just to add some more invisible pressure to my shoulders.
Tomorrow at 5 pm I will enter the program and start another mission with an unknown outcome. It feels strangely familiar and strangely similar to – say – taking the plane to Baghdad. I will put my faith into the hands of trainers, protocols and dietary restrictions meanwhile relying on faith, willpower, perseverance and trust. It keeps blowing my mind that every step into not-knowing feels exactly the same. Sometimes it requires leaving home for a long time without a plan, sometimes it requires surrendering to a strict and exhausting program. I signed up because I liked the idea of a physical challenge after all the spiritual endeavors but now that I am sizing up the challenge ahead of me it might be a lot more mental and spiritual than I expected. Oh well.. that is what warriors do, I guess. Game on!