At this point Kelly and I are now officially through the first week of the Velocity Diet, and I have to be honest with you: It’s been tough. It is unbelievably surprising just how much I sincerely miss chewing food. I’ve now had forty-three protein shakes — 39 chocolate and 4 strawberry — and a single HSM. There is no doubt at all that my body fat percentage has already seen a significant drop and I have lost about five pounds.
I am drinking five power shakes each day, with an extra Surge shake after each of the thrice-weekly weight-training workout routines. I am also drinking a ridiculous amount of water, primarily because that is the only thing I can consume besides coffee each day. As I said when we started, I am diverging from the rules by putting a little bit less than a quarter-cup of non-fat milk in my morning Starbucks and, well, if that’s going to completely monkey-wrench the diet, so be it.
After you read how the first week has been, you’ll understand why I am dreading the next three weeks.
Let’s get one thing straight: I am not a wimp. Kelly and I have been hitting the gym for hard-core weight-lifting sessions about three times each week for over a year now. And our workouts are tough. Until we started the VDiet we were doing almost exclusively full-body routines that targeted all the major muscle groups — abs, chest, traps, quads, hamstrings, biceps, triceps, lats, delts, and back. Neither one of us is Mr. Olympia, but most guys at the gym just looked sad when they saw what we were doing. I’m talking about doing four sets of twenty reps each of 600+ pound leg presses. I’m talking about drop-setting bench presses until failure. I’m talking about doing 60+ pound standing biceps curls until our arms were screaming in pain. We were not at the gym to have a good time.
So when we looked at the exercise regimen on the Velocity Diet we thought it would be a piece of cake.
On Mondays the plan calls for four routines: squats, lat pull-downs, dumbbell bench presses, and ab roll-outs. Sounds pretty easy, right? Well there’s a little catch. You don’t do traditional sets of these exercises. You just do one set of each one … with twenty reps. And since you are supposed to begin the set with the maximum weight you can perform with perfect form and speed for only eight reps, it gets absurd damn quickly. Oh, and you only get a short recovery time before you must try to complete the set.
So here’s an example: Last Monday — the 23rd — I guessed that my eight-rep max on the squat would be 185 lbs. (Unfortunately I underestimated myself, but that’s a different issue.) I did ten reps and then got a 35 second rest and immediately had to do more. I managed another eight reps, got another 35 second rest, and then did the last two for a total of twenty. After that I immediately had to hustle to the lat machine to do my pulldowns. It’s the same system there: Pick your eight-rep max weight and do reps until you lose form and / or speed, rest 35 seconds, and then repeat until you hit twenty. There’s no rest period between routines, so I had to jump from the lat machine over to the flat bench to do the dumbbell presses. By now you’re dying for oxygen even though you’ve only been lifting weights for maybe twelve minutes. And then … the ab roll-outs.
Ab roll-outs are some sort of psychotic torture invented by a madman. Kelly bought the device used to perform them and we share it. It’s simply a wheel — about the size of a tire on a kid’s little red wagon — with a couple of handles. You get on your knees, grab the handles, and roll out until you’re almost flat with your arms stretched as far above your head as you can reach. Then you roll back until the wheel is at your knees. You just have to do it twenty times, but after, oh, say the third one, you are ready to collapse.
But that’s it. That’s the entire Monday routine. (Yesterday was exactly the same except we only got twenty-five seconds rest instead of thirty-five.) The whole thing took maybe eighteen minutes and it was one of the hardest workouts I’ve done since my days of pushing pick-up trucks and running stadiums in Florida Crew.
The Wednesday and Friday workouts are done with the same philosophy, but instead of twenty reps for each set we have to do forty. Wednesday is weighted step-ups, bent-over rows, push presses, barbell curls, and reverse crunches. Friday is deadlift, decline dumbbell press, lat pull-downs, and hand walkouts. Weighted step-ups are pretty straightforward: You grab a 40 lb dumbbell in each hand and then step up onto a flat bench with each leg. If you think this is easy, imagine putting a twelve-year old in your arms and climbing a flight of stairs two-steps at a time.
Hand walk-outs are another one of Satan’s little evil punishments for years of drinking beer as if it was water. You put your knees on a towel and then reach forward, walking with your hands out as far as you can until you’re in a push-up position, and then walk them back. After forty deadlifts, forty decline bench presses, and forty lat pull-downs, this is murder on your triceps.
The V-Burn Challenge
Okay, so those are the regular workouts. Those are brutal. They are painful and extreme. And they are like a motherless walk in the park compared to the V-Burn Challenge. That’s the weekend routine. I almost puked three times during the V-Burn Challenge on Sunday morning. I also almost definitely strained my right quad something fierce. (It’s still killing me and sore.) Here’s the V-Burn:
- Jump Squat (aka “jumpies”)
- Hand Walkout
- Single-Leg Deadlift – arms out to sides
- Push-Up – clap
- Jumping Jack
- Reverse Lunge – twist
- Pike Push-Up
- Squat Thrust
You perform ten of each with no rest between sets, and (theoretically) no rest between circuits. I am here to tell you that — at least for a guy who has run three marathons and is in pretty damn good shape in general — this is impossible. It took us over an hour (61 minutes, 20 seconds) and we had to stop for between two and five minutes between each circuit. Now, in our defense we were doing these under the blistering sun at around noon in the San Fernando Valley. But I have to think that even if we were in a climate-controlled gym under fluorescent lights it would have been just as bad.
I felt (and heard) my quad muscle pop on the fourth rep of the reverse-lunge-with-a-twist during the third circuit and I fell to the ground in Joe Theismann-esque agony. I took about thirty seconds and walked it off and managed to continue, but it hurt — and still does — like ten bastards.
When we finished, I just lay on the ground in a pool of sweat and spit and the water I was pouring on my head to try to get my core body temp below vomit level.
And then, for fun, we played 18 holes of golf. (Not surprisingly I shot a 116, one of my worst rounds in months.)
Drinking five shakes each day is nowhere near as easy as you might think. It’s not that they’re not delicious, because they are. It’s just the monotony combined with the fact that you can’t eat anything else. Pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds that I was eating by the bag each day, gone. The Oreos and pretzels that are always sitting on the rack outside my office door, gone. The bagel or muffin or even banana that I got at Starbucks every morning, gone. The bowl of popcorn I’d eat every night watching TV, gone. That’s the tough part of it all. I don’t really mind skipping lunch and dinner, because I’m never really hungry. It’s more about the missing social component of food. Take that and the constant craving to just be chewing on something and it’s one tough bitch.
I’m getting 1486 calories each day from the shakes. (It’s 1815 calories on workout days, when I get a recovery shake.) And, like I said, there’s five shakes to drink every day, so there’s no point where my body is wanting for nutrition.
So let me tell you about heaven.
Heaven is the healthy solid meal. One day each week I get to have quote-unquote real food. For my first HSM my wife and I went to Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Beverly Hills. It was nirvana. It was delightful. It was a religious experience. It was orgasmic.
I started with a simple lettuce, onion, tomato, and crouton salad with an olive oil vinaigrette that made me cry. My side dish was a pile of steamed broccoli that tasted like it came from the Land of Wonderful Flavor. I had a bone-in New York strip steak that was about an inch thick and it was easily the best steak I’ve ever had in my entire life. I mean I was drooling between bites. I could not believe how good it was. I wanted to kiss the waiter, Pedro, but I settled for telling him I loved him. I ate it in bites probably one-tenth the size I would have last month, and each one was as primordially emotional as the love scene from Top Gun in my mouth.
I don’t know if I will ever have another meal as blissfully wonderful as that.
So now I’m on day two of week two. I have 20 days (more or less) to go. I am already dreaming of going to Ruth’s Chris again on Saturday.