Incrementalism

Plugging away, day after day, at the YMCA

Alabama

January 22, 2011.

I have been working toward this day for a year now. It was exactly one year ago this afternoon that I started the long process of getting back in shape.

Quite honestly, I never imagined that I would be this successful in keeping my old New Year’s Resolution. I dropped 60 pounds, reached my target goal, sustained my commitment to physical fitness, and have intensified my effort on all fronts.

I’m now heading into … Year Two.

Over the years, I had made two serious attempts at getting back to my desired weight. In 2006, I worked out over a period of three months and dropped about 20 pounds. In 2009, I dropped 20 pounds again from December to March, but gained it all back after Spring Break in Florida.

I knew how to lose weight. I simply failed at bridging the disconnect between my bad habits and knowledge of the subject.

Not this time.

In January 2010, I bought a scale and a five subject notebook. I lugged my old free weights and weight bench out of storage. I resolved to get in shape. Then I went to work.

I didn’t look back.

I knew from experience the importance of starting small and developing good habits. The surest way to fail is to start out big and collapse from exhaustion. Those old records motivated me to chart a different course this time around.

I started out with a simple routine: workout six days a week, walk twenty minutes a day, eight upper body exercises with 20 lbs dumbbells, three upper body exercises with 50 lbs barbells, hit the scale in the morning, record my weight and daily progress with marks in my notebook.

I moved to Virginia on February 6, 2010.

A week later, I signed up a membership at the YMCA. I started going to the gym every day with my new roommates. With access to a wide range of equipment, I started using lots of machines and distinguishing between my free weight and machine routines in my records.

Because of the bitterly cold winter weather in Virginia, I chose to do my daily walk on the treadmill. My initial speed was 2.5 for 20 minutes. I used fifteen machines in the gym, barbells for three exercises, and kept doing the eight moves with the free weights.

The weight quickly started coming off. I dropped from 217 on January 29 to 200 on April 3.

I was 195 when I flew to Texas on May 7. On June 13, I was 192.6 when I confronted Jeffrey Imm in DC. When I moved to Birmingham on August 21, I had dropped to 181.8.

By September, I had been working out consistently for seven months. I had lost about 40 pounds. I should have lost more. There were days, sometimes weeks, when I missed a gym session, a walk, or some part of my routine like a free weight routine.

September was the first “perfect month” when I completed every aspect of my routine: runs, gym sessions, walks. In the months that followed, which have all been “perfect months,” I started going back and doing “makeup sessions” for the days that I had missed.

The 181.8 on August 21 had become 176.7 by September 24 which became 173.2 on November 1 and 167.9 on December 1 and then 162.4 on January 1, 2011.

A few days ago, I finally reached my goal of 160. It seems like it took forever to get here. The hardest weight to lose was the last 15 pounds.

That small little measly walking and free weight routine evolved significantly over the intervening months. I have constantly moved the goal posts and looked for ways to improve my lifestyle at the margins.

The “20 minute walk” became a 30 minute walk and eventually a 60 minute walk. I went from a speed of 2.5 on the treadmill to around 5.5. Over the summer and fall, I abandoned the treadmill to enjoy nature trails and city streets with an uneven topography, sacrificing speed for more challenging inclines.

On any given day, the “20 minute walk” is now a dip in the pool for an hour, 30 minutes on the treadmill and 30 minutes doing sprints outside, 60 minutes of sprints or 60 minutes of boxing. At the end of the week, I will at least walk for an hour when I don’t have much energy. I have varied up the routine in half a dozen ways.

The eight move, one set free weight session with 20 lbs dumbbells has evolved into a twelve move, two set light and heavy free weight session with 25 lbs and 35 lbs dumbbells.

The one set, fifteen move upper body machine session at the gym has evolved into a two set, ten to fifteen rep, nineteen exercise upper and lower body session with a combination of machines, barbells, and cables.

Last January, I began to keep daily records with four simple columns: weight, free weights, gym sessions, and walks. Over the last year, I added columns to eliminate soda and fast food from my diet. I also started keeping a detailed food journal and counting calories in the fall.

I still struggle with sticking to my diet. That has been the biggest challenge over the last year. I see it as a process though, not as one giant leap to victory.

Every month, I write a summary of my progress, including where I have failed and where I have succeeded. I have “attacked the margins” by eliminating things from my diet like iced coffee, candy bars, powdered donuts, chips, most fried foods (some sacrifices ask too much), and baked potatoes with lots of butter. I have gotten better at coming up with low calorie substitutes and avoiding high carb foods late at night too.

I now strictly limit how much I drink a week. I drink lots of water, chew gum, and eat almonds to kill my appetite.

Now that I have reached my target weight, I have to radically change my habits again, something which I plan to start on in February.

I have to start lifting heavier weights, focusing more on specific muscle groups, spacing out the days that I work out, moving to a lower rep work out schedule, and eating better food with lots of lean protein.

I’m just starting to get into supplements. I have also been experimenting with cables and different types of bars to add more variety to my workout.

Physical fitness has become so integrated into my daily habits that I literally can’t imagine now going back to a life of idleness. I feel physical irritation now when I haven’t done something.

My trials at the gym have taught me the importance of patience, perseverance, and incrementalism. Small changes in habits add up to significant gains over time.

There are some weeks when your body refuses to cooperate with your short term goals. There are other times when you stumble. That is not a reason to give up and become discouraged though.

I have also learned that beginnings, means, and small steps forward are far more important than focusing on the endgame. Once you get the ball rolling, your habits will take over and momentum will carry you the rest of way.

The same is true of political activism. I will address that subject another day.

Right now I am just proud to say: I did that.

Addendum: Several people have asked me now about my routine. I have anticipated that question. It took me a while to look up the name for the specific exercise or machine that I use.

Cardio

I vary my cardio session in all sorts of ways. The single constant is that I do at least an hour of cardio six days a week.

When I use the treadmill, I usually run on 5.5 for about 30 minutes and spend the other 30 minutes doing something else, whether it is taking a dip in the pool, doing sprints, or putting on a sweatshirt and walking around the neighborhood between sets at the gym.

Sometimes I will just sprint, jog, or walk for an hour depending upon the wear and tear on my body. Other times I will take out my aggression on a punching bag. I mix up all these activities to put in an hour of cardio a day.

Free Weights

I use dumbbells and barbells for my free weight session.

With the dumbbells, I always do two sets a day, six days a week, one set with lighter 25 lbs dumbbells and the other with 35 lbs dumbbells. I retired the 20 lbs dumbbells months ago.

12 pushups
15 standing wrist curls
15 reverse wrist curls
15 standing dumbbell curls
15 overhead dumbbell tricep extensions
15 lateral raises
15 front raises
15 rear lateral raises
15 dumbbell shrugs
15 dumbbell presses
15 bent over rows

I always do 1 and 1/2 sets Monday through Saturday with my abs and barbells.

30 situps
15 side sit ups

15 bench presses (120 pounds)
15 standing barbell curls (100 pounds)
15 deadlifts (100 pounds)
15 military presses (100 pounds)

Machines

I love machines.

I work out with machines six days a week, 1 and 1/2 sets per day, with varying amounts of weight.

Small Room:

15 Leg Extensions (130 Pounds)
15 Standing Calf Raises (140 pounds)
15 Chest Presses (140 Pounds)
15 Seated Cable Rows (140 Pounds)
15 Cable Tricep Pushdowns (140 Pounds)
15 Seated Chest Flys (140 Pounds)
15 Lat Pulldowns (140 Pounds)

Big Room:

15 Bench Presses (140 Pounds)
15 Seated Tricep Extensions (140 Pounds)
15 Pullovers (130 Pounds)
15 Nautilus Abdominal Crunches (120 pounds)
15 Seated Tricep Pushdowns (140 Pounds)
15 Lat Pulldowns (140 Pounds)

15 Nautilus Bicep Curls (120 Pounds)
15 Nautilus Lying Chest Flys (120 Pounds)
15 Vertical Leg Presses (140 pounds)
15 Lateral Raises (120 Pounds)
15 Leg Abductions (100 Pounds)
15 Back Extensions (140 Pounds)

About Hunter Wallace 9676 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent

19 Comments

  1. After my old man had a heart attack from his toxic diet of pure garbage I completely eliminated butter and margarine from my diet. I got some of those plastic squeeze bottles and filled them with Olive Oil and Canola Oil and use those in their place. For Alfredo sauce instead of the store bought jar full of saturated fat I buy the powder and substitute skim milk and Olive Oil for the Cream and Butter the package calls for.

  2. My congrats to you for an outstanding achievement. I work out six days a week too. I’d like to share this site with you for variations on your routine. By changing your routine every couple of months, you’ll shock your muscles which helps them to grow.
    The routines are on http://www.muscleandstrength.com Best of Luck

  3. If the walks have become too easy give weighted walking a try. Just put some weights in a backpack and do your walk as normal. Start low, say10lbs, and work your way up — 15, 20, 25, 30 etc. It’s the same exercise you’re already doing but this way you get more bang for your buck (greater energy expenditure).

  4. Congratulations on setting a fine personal example, Hunter. Many people find the “outdoor boot camp” a satisfying way to build PT into our desk bound, sedentary lives. The satisfaction of an 0600 PT is hard to beat with the glorious sunrise, fresh clean air tinged with morning dew, tons of camaraderie and a motivational DI. Cold rain and snow have their special rewards too, and keep it all real.

    Joe of the Mountain

  5. Congratulations. And thanks for reporting on it for us.
    BTW: You really are a southerner, LOL!!
    “Because of the bitterly cold winter weather in Virginia…”

  6. As of July, 2010, you were a butterball.

    If all this were really true, I guarantee you’d have posted pictures, to show off and show up your old enemies.

  7. Glad to see you’re doing fine, Hunter Wallace.

    This is somewhat off-topic, but relevant in that it addresses the question of what kind of free speech should be allowed in pro-White circles.

    Daniel J Antinora has been permanently banned from Alt Right for suggesting that we’d be better off if psychopaths started murdering congress members instead of the rest of us.

    http://tomorrowinvinland.blogspot.com/2011/01/banned.html

    That certainly makes it difficult to take Richard Spencer’s rhetoric on free speech seriously. If a crazy individual wants to break the law and kill someone, choosing a political target is the least disgusting choice. Criminals taking out criminals.

  8. Hunter – congrats on the weight loss and fitness regime. Even 30-60 minutes of brisk walking a day will keep most people in decent shape assuming your diet is also reasonable.

    Nightowl – if you are White, real butter is good for you. Remember than Whites from Northern European areas evolved lactose tolerance so they could eat butter, milk, cheese, etc.

    It is the fake fats that are bad: stuff like margarine, canola oil, vegetable oil, cottonseed oil, and so on (all types of hydrogenated fats). Most of those were invented in laboratories during the 19th-20th centuries, and large consumption of these have been correlated with a hugely increased incidence of various cancers, heart disease, etc. This is because they are so artificial and were just recently invented in labs, our bodies are not evolutionarily prepared to handle them. Avoid all modern-invented fake fats, oils, and lipids. Stick only to fats and oils that have withstood the test of time. For instance, olive oil is OK but margarine is not, though real beef tallow is preferred to both; pure lard is better for you than canola oil; real whole cream is better than skim/low-fat creams; real yogurt better than ‘light’ yogurt; all kinds of real animal fats are better than laboratory-invented fake fats; etc. In the modern USA though (and many other nations) livestock is treated and fed the wrong foods so even their fat is often tainted. It’s a lose-lose situation.

    The problem with the modern American food system is that it is totally controlled from top to bottom, and the most nutritious foods and fats are ‘appropriated’ as it were. Raw whole milk is illegal in many states, and only the rather inert whole milk stripped of most cream/fat and vitamins is available in stores. It’s another form of discrimination against Northern Europeans, since many Northern Euros need real whole fat milk, butter, cheese, etc in their diet to thrive — however, what they get in the modern USA is a stripped down version largely devoid of real nutrition to be substituted mostly with empty carbohydrates and mass-produced junk meat.

    It is interesting to note how dietary preferences have changed for the worse in modern times due to population pressures. This is the result of the triumph of quantity over quality at present, i.e. the 9 million generally high quality Whites of Sweden vs. the 1.2 billion rather low quality Asiatics in China. In the past people would kill for regular access to animal fats/lipids/oils, as they provide the best and heartiest nutrition. The fattiest parts of livestock along with organ meats, lard/tallow/etc, milk, cheese, butter, cream, bone marrow, fish fats, the fat of bird livestock like chicken, ducks, geese, etc etc…this is the stuff of real nutrition, and in the past everything was cooked in healthy fats. You can see vestiges of this in some traditional cultures like Eskimos which subsist entirely on seal fat and fish and have a low incidence of heart disease. But now it has become switched and when people eat meat it is so often low fat flesh portions, like a steak without much fat marbling or skinless/boneless chicken, that type of junk — in the past most considered that the waste meat and fed it to their dogs and other pets.

    A great book on this is NUTRITION AND PHYSICAL DEGENERATION by Weston Price – http://journeytoforever.org/farm_library/price/pricetoc.html – I recommend that everyone concerned about modern nutrition read that book. It shows how the health of geographically isolated pre-modern people rapidly degenerated once they adopted modern ‘factory’ diets. For instance, read the chapter about the isolated pre-modern White Swiss vs. the modern White Swiss: http://journeytoforever.org/farm_library/price/price3.html

  9. Good for you, Hunter. Keep at it in 2011–the fit lifestyle AND the broad/populist tone of OD. Some people don’t understand it, but what you’re doing is 100x more subversive than the “vanguardist” Literati with their cocktail parties and Book-of-the-Month clubs.

    Cook for yourself if you don’t already. It will cut your grocery/meal bills down 60%, and it’s almost impossible NOT to lose weight when you’re overseeing the ingredients.

    Congrats and best wishes from vibrant CA!

  10. HW has a great routine, to be sustained for life. I work out for 1.5 hours before breakfast or going to work; a 40″ bicycle ride before dinner; another light 20″ workout before sleep. Am 64, feel 24. Exercise, plus a “reasonable” diet, is the reason. Let the libs pig out and drop dead.

  11. I was already halfway done on June 13 when I confronted Jeffrey Imm in DC. That was exactly 32.6 pounds ago. I have records that stretch back a year.

    As for posting pictures, I really don’t care what people on the internet think. I might post some from Spring Break in Florida in March.

    The people who know me best from the internet – like my roommates from Virginia – know how often I go to the gym because they were going with me at the time. I also have people from the internet like Jack Ryan who call me all the time when I am there.

    I’m there six days a week, usually between 6 and 8 PM, no matter what the weather. My flawless track record goes back to August 22 when I moved back to Alabama.

  12. I learned primarily from working out at the gym that incrementalism works.

    When I run on the treadmill, I always think about getting through the next 5 minutes, not the entire 30 minute session. When I am going through a large set, I think about the next few reps, not the entire set.

    Similarly, when I was losing weight, I always focused on losing 5 pounds a month or improving a specific muscle group, not losing all of it at one time. I always changed up my routine in small ways – something small, like dropping the nightly iced coffee – to improve at the margins.

    I won that battle.

  13. Good job Hunter, absolutely right.

    I’ve underwent a similar transformation dropping 50+ pounds. Now I look like Brad Pitt. I sat around and day dreamed for years thinking about what it would be like to have six pack abs all the while knowing how to do it. That got me nowhere. The problem is the all or nothing attitude. Some people tend to give up if they don’t see immediate progress.

    The progress came when I decided to change my philosophy to something more realistic like “i’m just going to do something even if it’s as trivial as a 1 minute jog”

    It’s the little successes here and there that really matter and once you start stacking one on top of the other the momentum just drags you forward like you’re on auto-pilot.

  14. I add my congratulations–it takes determination and self-discipline to lose weight and get and stay in good shape, as you’ve discovered. It all becomes easier once you’ve accepted the ghastly truth, that this is a permanent lifestyle, not a finite project, and once you’ve become intuitive about daily caloric intake. It’s good to use a coach at the gym for a while; the company is motivating, and his or her in-depth knowledge and guidance can be very useful, as well as interesting; the human body is amazing – a good friend, deserving of respectful treatment.
    I’d like to say, too, that in addition to appreciating your writing and the effort you’ve put into finding a fit between your vision and your talents, I’ve been impressed by the restraint you’ve exhibited in dealing with critics who reveal more that’s undesirable in their own character than about you in what they allow themselves to put in print.

  15. Wow, good job.

    A book you might find interesting, and would help with eating better, could be the following:

    http://www.amazon.com/Eat-Grow-Slim-Richard-Mackarness/dp/0006338089

    I’ve read Eat Fat and Grow Slim, and currently following the advice of not eating any sugars or starches, and so far have lost about 3 lbs in 10 days, without exercise. Sugar is highly addictive, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it for the first 5 days. Fortunately the craving abates, and I haven’t touched sugar since then. After only 2 days my energy levels peaked, my mood improved and I’m back to being the cheerful fellow I was meant to be.

  16. I agree with MOB’s sentiment’s

    Accepting the fact that it is a permanent life style is one of the most important aspects, maybe the most important.

  17. Hunter – well done. One of the very key things you’ve done is note that those who try to “start big” doom themselves. I haven’t been exercizing regularly since mid-October – due to “lifestyle” changes. I’ve been too busy to do anything other than work, and move. I’ve had very very very long days. And time to do very little other than work, make dinner, crash, and repeat the next day.

    Things are finally settling down again. I started exercizing again yesterday. Got on a stationary bike. I got through approx 15 minutes. I remember when I began my stationary bike regime, early last year – I thought I was gonna die after 2 minutes. (I pedalled for 10, though) I was going for 30 minutes, in 2 weeks, with very little effort, by just doing it – and by NOT “over-doing it” the first time out. I anticipate doing the same, this time. If I listen to my body, so to speak, and pay attention to whne I am pushing myself, to do a wee bit more, vs. pushing “it” and utterly exhausting myself – I succeed. I know I’ll literally be back up to speed in a month.

    The other posters on this thread have noted the preponderance of junk calories, and Frankenfats, in American “food”. I cannot stress this enough – PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE take the time and effort to get real food from local producers. And try to obtain meat from real butchers. Get to know your local farmers! Once you start eating real food – you’ll notice the difference immediately. First time out. If you have Amsih or Mennonite farmers in your locale – consider their proximity a blessing from whatever God you pray to! I cannot eat “commercial” eggs anymore. They make me sick, almost immediately. Nauseous. Real eggs, that ones the Federal Posioners have termed “unsanitary, and unhealthy” are unbelievably delicious, and I’ve never wanted to heave once. I now have tons of sources of natural, non-effed up chickens, who do range freely, and who produce real eggs. I have real honey. I have squash, and beets. Real beets. I love beets. If you’ve only had commerial beets – you’ve never had real beets. And potatoes. They are delicious….eating real food is like experiencing the Platonic ideal of food.

    Get to know your locl farmers!!!! Get to know their customers. The day may come when you may need to defend them from the Federal Thugs. (And there are plenty of lega lways to do this. I am NOT advocating any sort of violence!). I live in the land of small farmers. The Federal Posioner Agencies are alredy screwing with them. We are forming groups to rush out and show up when the Federal Poisioners show – armed with all sorts of paper “regulations” designed to shut local farmers down. We can block the Thugs by challenging them, with thier phoony crap. You’ll find that if oyu get ot know the other customers, of your local farmers, that no matter what their political affilaitons – they will be fanatical about defendingthier bleoved food source.s Believe me. The Feds are effing with the Earthy Crunchy Liberal Foody crowd, now – and there are no more vicious, selfish. “by any means necessary” fanatics on the face of the Earth, than Earthy Crunchy Foodies.

    You never know what kinds of interesting developments will occur, if the White Nation gets the Earthy Crunchies to align on whole food issues. If you want to see a cruel, remorseless, inhuman murderous psychotic light suddenly gleam from the eyes of an apparently “peaceful, serene” Yuppie Hippy – just bring up the name “Monsanto (Sephardic Jews! Hi Jack Ryan!)” to the Foody. OMG. This is also an excellent opp to Name Die Jude, and educate the Foody about, “….what the Bolshies did to the peasant farmers in Russia. Holomodor, ‘n ll. You know – Bolshies – Jews. Ya know how Jews always attack the food supply, dontcha, Foody? Look it up…”

    You can cut right through ALL the PC BS, with the Earthy Crunchy crowd, when ya explain that it’s the Jew, behind the attacks on the food supply. Believe me. The Knaaaazees haven’t been brought up once, to me, whenever I’ve done this. I can see the lights going on, in the eyes of the Foodies.

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