Bodybuilding is a new sport for me. Although I never plan to compete, I still consider myself to be a bodybuilder. Formerly I was a powerlifter. I competed twice and even held a NYS record once. To be clear, no one had ever lifted in the novice, raw and 198 lbs squat before, so I was at once the worst and the best lifter on record in NY for that lift. Recognize. JMA Powerlifting
Now I bodybuild. I still use the big four for my overall strength and power. I squat, deadlift, benchpress and overhead press. Each lift now I worry more about strict form as opposed to the number that I’d focused so much on in the past.
The transition has been fun. I actually do barbell curls now, tricep press downs too. In the past, all these muscles were trained only during complex, multi joint movements. Turns out, pumping my biceps up to the point of bursting is fun.
Since returning from my second deployment in January of 2009, I have done a great deal of introspection. Turns out, there is some heavy stuff in there! Bodybuilding has been a valuable tool for me to get to know myself. Not only what the “hardware” can do, but how powerful the “software” can be. I tell myself if I really concentrate and focus, I CAN do that extra repetition. I can move that extra 5 pounds. I can, using my memories, both pleasant and not so pleasant, tap into a power that is both greater than me and equal to me. What I mean to imply is that there is more to me than I now (or will ever) know. Bodybuilding has taught me to trust myself, to rely on myself and to believe in myself. More. Dig? Not to say in the past I didn’t or wasn’t doing all those things, but now I’ve learned where the auxiliary fuel tank is in me. Sure, the Military showed me how to access the tank, but I am now learning “how deep is the tank”. Cue the Bee Gees “how deep is your love?”
JMA DeployedI can now name more than “quads, lats and pecs”. Sartorius? Hard to develop, but I am working on it. Gluteus Maximus? Funny you should mention, it’s my pride and joy. The only thing we really own in life is this collection of bones wrapped in this skin wrap (I long ago decorated my wrap, but that’s for another time). So developing it to the fullest, learning how it really works, what its strengths and weaknesses are has been a welcome distraction. In 2004 some buddies and I gathered up some intense memories and while bodybuilding hasn’t made them go away, it has provided a distraction. Wait, not a distraction per say, maybe a counter balance? If all that “heavy” stuff in my head was to come crashing down all at once, I’d surely crumble. But wait, I have been training for this, my back is now stronger than ever and I know, through my own introspection, that I can shoulder more than I ever thought possible, all I need to do is concentrate.
During my training sessions, nothing else matters. Sure, my thoughts wander, but I have an outlet for them, so they don’t stew inside. Hard day at work, boss a clueless buffoon, bent on destruction? Pull downs. Bills seeming to pile up despite timely payments? Dumbbell raises. The list goes on ad nausea, but y’all are tracking. Now I welcome the challenges I face whereas before I’d just “deal”.
In conclusion, today is my 44th birthday. Friends of course ask in jest, “how’s it feel to be old?” truth is, I am young at heart, and this y’all, this is the key to happiness. Keep a firm grasp on that kid in there, he or she will always be able to show you the upside. Now, load the barbell, crack a smelling salt, breath deep and get at it.


Jim is an OIF I IVeteran, an OEF VII Veteran and proudly wears the US Army’s Combat Infantryman Badge. If you have any questions about your benefits earned during your service to our Country, email Jim at  


retrieved from wikipedia

I stayed up way past my bedtime last night just to see Arnold on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. I’m not one for celebrity obsessions, but I will admit I’m a little star struck as I was thoroughly entertained throughout the segment. I will add that Jimmy Fallon truly is a master of his craft as it was his ability to casually interact with Arnold that made the segment so great. He has this way of talking to his guests like they’re old pals and he wasn’t even hesitant to impersonate Arnold right in front of him! Arnold, of course, rolled with it as I’m sure he’s quite used to it. The latter segment even included a play on Arnold’s famous line “Get to the chopper!!!” that had everyone laughing each time he said it. I like that Arnold is the kind of guy who is comfortable enough to poke a little fun at himself.


Arnold said he used some pull he had with Dick Cheney to have his old tank sent here from Austria (Retrieved from wikipedia)

Arnold was there to promote his new movie that’s coming out Friday called Sabotage. While I’m sure the movie will be full of action packed greatness in true Arnold fashion, I was more intrigued by the stories he told apart from the movie. Did you know he owns a tank? Not just A tank… He owns THE tank…the EXACT tank he drove when he was in the Austrian Army. Can you think of a better way to throw around your celebrity clout? Me neither. He told a funny story about some reckless shenanigans he pulled with some tanker buddies in his Army days and talked about how he used the tank to raise money for charity. Seriously, he just keeps getting more awesome. I later found this rather hilarious video describing the fundraiser on Arnold’s YouTube site.  If I had known about it, I would have definitely bid on it!!

So I’m not getting all stalker crazy with the man, but I had to share that I like him more as I learn more about him. He’s definitely built his own personal brand and people seem to really love it. I’ve always respected his fitness accomplishments and recognized him as a celebrity, but I’m now understanding his ability as an entertainer and as a brand. So while you won’t find me sending him letters made out of magazine clippings, I will definitely be keeping a closer eye on what he’s up to in the public eye.

Mondays and Thursdays are my favorite lifting days.  On these days, I just feel like I got this sh## handled!  They also happen to be the shortest days, so flying right through might help my feelings of empowerment.

Here’s the routine:

Bench Press, 67lbs, 12-12-12-12
Retrieved from The Flex Online facbook page.

Retrieved from the Flex Online Facebook Page.

Incline Press, 67lbs, 12-12-12-12
Pullovers, 20lbs, 12-12-12-12
Lat Pull Downs, 50lbs, 12-12-12-12
Bent-Over Rows, 20lbs dumbbells, 12-12-12-12
Deadlifts, 67lbs, 10-10-10-10
Insanity, 40 minutes

Here’s an article written by Arnold for Flex Online that gives advice on bench press basics.  His routine in this article differs from the one I’ve listed above.  It seems closer to the more intermediate to advanced workouts he has listed in the book.  It’s a good read, though.  I particularly liked what he said about planting your feet on the floor versus lifting them up when you bench.

I want a squat rack that I can try pull ups with in lieu of the lat pull downs.  Arnold actually calls for the pull ups but I don’t have a door way that will support a pull up bar.  When the weather gets warmer, I can try borrowing the kids monkey bars!  For now, the lat pull downs will have to do.  I feel that I’m ready to increase my weight in some areas, specifically the bench press and deadlifts.  I’m going to see about acquiring an additional bar so I don’t have to waste too much time adding and subtracting weight between sets.

I hope you give this routine a try.  It really helps bust the Monday blues and sets the week off to a great start!

weight equationI’ve noticed when I talk about my weight, people often say “Oh it’s just a number, you know it’s about measurements and how you feel.” While I agree that it shouldn’t be the end all and be all of my fitness goals, I must respectfully disagree about it just being a number. I’ve lost 20 lbs since October. Is that just a number? I think not.

I’ve often struggled in the past with that number on the scale. My last pregnancy, I didn’t weigh myself because my midwife and I agreed that doing so would cause more harm than good. At this point, however, I believe my weight is more than just a number. I look better and feel better than I had back in October, but I now have specific goals in mind for my weight. Do I want to look (or weigh as little) like a cover model? No, and it’s just not realistic. But do I want to reach a weight that is a little closer to my ideal BMI? Absolutely.  And that’s okay.

BMI Chart:  It's not the Bible, it's a starting point.  Okay? Retrieved from:

BMI Chart: It’s not the Bible, it’s a starting point. Okay?
Retrieved from:

Before you get all crazy about BMI and how it’s not a true measure of ideal body weight, hear me out.  BMI was not created for bodybuilders.  Most things that are not bodybuilding related are not created for bodybuilders.  So spare me the “it doesn’t account for muscle” comments because I know that.  What it is good for is letting you know how far you are as an average person from other average persons of your height and weight.  So if you’re a recovering couch potato or an active person with a potato chip dependency, it is still useful.  Is it the end all and be all of fitness goals?  No way!  In fact, I’ve never truly fit into my ideal BMI – even at my thinnest.  But I still use it to gauge how far I am off the mark when I know I’m porking out.  When I lose the pudge, BMI doesn’t matter because I’m building muscle and have no muffin top to feel bad about.

20131109_012428698_iOSI’m going to go ahead and come out of the closet about my weight – because it’s not just a number.  Yesterday I weighed in at 177 lbs.  That means when I started this journey, I was 197 lbs.  I don’t think anyone would have guessed I weighed that much at the time, but it’s still a big number that I couldn’t ignore.  I said in my first post that it wasn’t my goal to lose weight, but that was before I realized how quickly my weight was getting out of control.  I weighed more than some dudes, and that was a game changer.  So I forged ahead with Arnold’s plan with this additional goal in mind.  I was able to lose slowly but efficiently – even through the holidays!  And then I hit a plateau around 181 lbs.  This is when I brought the Insanity workout in as my daily cardio routine.  If anything is going to help you shed pounds, it’s this program.  I’ve noticed results in my lifting routine from this as well, so I think it was a good move overall.

When you lose 20 lbs on your need to have some cake.

When you lose 20 lbs on your birthday…you need to have some cake.

20140312_000309982_iOSSo here I am, 177 lbs, and I’m darn proud of myself.  I’m only about 15 lbs away from my goal and I’m finally at a point where other people are noticing the weight loss.  I could have a goal of  20 or even 25 lb goal in mind, but I understand that I’ll bee adding muscle throughout this process.  This is when it will become more about the measurements and percentage of body fat than the actual number on the scale.  Until then, I’m following that number and setting goals to get where I want to be!  Don’t be afraid to track your weight when you’re on your fitness journey.  Don’t obsess about it or make it your only priority, but it’s okay to have weight related goals in mind.

20140307_162328932_iOSI’d like to start by sharing my Friday routine with you. It’s a repeat of my Tuesday routine for shoulders, upper arms, and forearms. See the messy scribbled out routine in the picture. I actually did this routine in a different order than Arnold has laid out in his plan, but I don’t feel like it’s made any negative impact. It’s also important for me to mention that for the power training moves (Heavy Upright Rows and Push Presses), Arnold recommends doing 3 sets of 6, 4, and 2 to failure. I’m not doing this for the primary reason that I’m working out alone, in my basement, without a spotter. So you’ll see that my barbell weight is set to 67 lbs across the board. The 67lb includes the weight of the barbell by the way, I’m not that much of a beast….yet! I’m going to have to get into power training at a gym or with a guest spotter (invitation open!!) who wouldn’t mind sitting in with this work in progress.

Why power training? Basically, because strength is relative. I might be able to deadlift 67lbs for 4 sets of 10 reps, but I can definitely deadlift more than that in a shorter amount. If you don’t up the weight every now and then, you don’t know the true value of your strength. Arnold also speaks of powerlifting as an integral part of bodybuilding. “To shape and develop the body, it is necessary to do a lot of endurance training – that is, the appropriate number of sets and reps. But I also believe that, unless you include low-rep strength training, you will never achieve the hardness and density necessary to create a truly first-class physique” (The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding, p.142). So I hope this helps in some way. If there’s anyone nearby who’s knowledgeable about proper form and can dial 911, let me know if you’d like to spot me so I can dig into this a bit deeper.

Here’s a video of Arnold speaking further into to benefits of power lifting

What I hate more than falling off the blog-writing bandwagon is writing that “hey sorry I fell off the face of the Earth” blog post. So rather than list the several lousy excuses I’ve been making for myself, I’m going to share 20140130_013519000_iOSwith you what inspired me to jump back into it.
I just started a new module (like a semester, but crunched into 8 weeks) for school in which I have the pleasure of taking Social Media Marketing. I’ve been excited to take this class as so much of my career has been based in social media marketing. While I’m very good at it, I’m by no means an expert, so I come to this class hungry for new knowledge. Alright…snoozefest for those who aren’t nerds like me…so I’ll get to the point. I’m not even a full week into this course and I’ve learned something incredibly valuable: managing your personal brand. I’ve never thought of it that way before, but I’m really not practicing what I preach to business leaders in regards to maintaining a healthy social media presence. I don’t want someone to Google me and find a bunch of half finished profiles and projects! That’s not who I am!! Five years of successful social media marketing experience and I’m just now figuring out how to manage my own online presence. This is why I love college!
So here I am, again. I write to you with a new found enthusiasm as I continue to celebrate my fitness journey. That’s right – my absence from blogging does NOT mean I’ve been absent in my workouts. Barring a 3 week encounter with the flu, I’ve been consistently rocking my workouts. I’ve also recently added the Insanity program (the original, not T25) to my workouts in an effort to break through a weight loss plateau. I’m down a total of 15 lbs thus far, This doesn’t sound like much, but considering the muscle I’ve added and the fact that my leggings are now baggy, I consider it a huge win. I’ve been logging my routines regularly and have a couple of great recipes that I’ll share in future posts.
That’s where I’ll leave it for now. I just wanted to let you all know that my personal brand is pretty freaking awesome and I’m excited to resume sharing it with you. As I hop back aboard the blog train, feel free to share your feedback as it will help me write about things you’re interested in. Thanks for diving back in with me!
Your Long Lost Friend,

Last week I was going to post about the final preparations for the project…but who wants to be bored by all of that crap? What I really want to post about is the awesome progress I’ve made thus far in my first official week on Arnold’s Level I Training Plan!  Woohoo!!!

Home Gym Before (2)I want to start by sharing with you the progress in my home gym! The biggest news is that I can actually call it a home gym! It’s by no means perfect, but I have it to a point where I can actually workout without getting completely skeeved out. I’d like to add more carpet and mats and slap a coat of paint on the walls, but that will come in due time. Right now I’m just happy to have this little section to dedicate to this project.Home Gym After

There have been a lot of people telling me to be careful in fear that I’m going to rush in too fast or do something…idk…stupid? Rest assured that safety is a priority for me. Honestly, I appreciate the support, even in this slightly irritating form, so I’ll just reassure everyone that I had a good ramp up plan over the last two weeks that has set me up for the big show. I started with 45 minutes of cardio for 5 days on week 1. Then I added the Level I exercises with no weight for 3 days on week 2 in addition to the cardio. Finally, I did the complete Level I training program while gradually adding weight to see where I’m outside my comfort zone while keeping good form and remaining in control.

As I’ve been ramping up my training plan, I’ve also been making gradual changes with my diet. I was relieved to see that Arnold’s diet plan was very similar to David Zinczenco’s The Abs Diet  and The Abs Diet for Women. I read both books and had great success with this lifestyle changing plan for eating. Unfortunately, I ended up regressing over time to a point where I no longer fueled my body and opted to drown my hormones in cookie dough. But I digress…both Arnold’s and David’s philosophies are very similar. Bottom line: feed your muscles, fuel your metabolism. This I can do! I started by increasing my water intake to almost 3 liters a day (it’s amazing my eyeballs don’t float away). I’ve also been gradually working toward a completely whole-food diet and “eating clean.” I’m having one or two smoothies a day. One as a post workout recovery drink and another as a meal replacement. These aren’t supposed to be like Slim-Fast shakes – they are very filling and jam packed full of calories and nutrients so it’s great for someone (me) who forgets to eat lunch while on the go.

If you want to see what exercises I’m doing each day, you can follow me @andreaandarnold on Fitocracy. I may find something to post what I’m eating as well…let me know if there’s a platform you recommend.