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Olympus Project Week Two – Soreness with a capital “S”


Experiments in nutrition, fitness, and lifestyle.

Experiments in nutrition, fitness, and lifestyle.

With two weeks under our belt, you’re reading the second installment of an experimental journal in strength/ endurance training combined with whole food nutrition.  Our goals outlined in week 1 were personal and our outcome uncertain.   Sharing our weaknesses and flaws, we move forward NOT knowing if our bodies will stand up to the challenges.


We press on hoping to encourage YOU, our patients and readers to design your own Olympus Project, reclaiming lost health, strength and vitality or  moving to higher levels of wellness than you’ve ever known!


Your personal Olympus Project doesn’t have to be the exact place we started, but should begin where your personal ability and goals lead you.  



This week the Olympus Project proved considerably more difficult than week one.  We both struggled finding time for each workout despite the typically short duration but high intensity of each day.  I’m a full time physician and David is a full time administrator and clinical nutritionist.  We both have kids and lives outside of work.  We’re not professional gym rats or unemployed idealistic vagabonds.  This is as Real World as it gets.


The week started with dead lift, power clean and squat strength workouts at 70-80% of our previous maximum.    David and I both felt self-conscious and awkward in the gym.  (Neither of us have done any serious strength training with weights since high school)


Olympus Project Exercise Plan (See week two section for details)


Tuesday’s workout came quickly and I noticed considerable soreness in my quads, hamstrings and back.  David noticed as the week progressed, especially after running a 10 K time trial, that his calves became very tight.  This  raised concern as to whether his lower legs would ultimately limit him from achieving one of his goals of running a marathon at the end of our 12 week experiment.


Personally, back to back track workouts with interval style 200’s meter dashes proved “challenging” after cramping in calves and hamstrings in the last 3 of 10 reps.  I hit my times appropriately but suffered a great deal as I journeyed through lactic acid land.


Hindsight being 20/20, I think hydration played a role with my muscle cramps and illustrates the often overlooked role of hydration and proper fueling during exercise programs.


David noted, “I keep laughing to myself when we are at the gym lifting weights and I think of the fact that I’m training for a marathon. I’m expecting someone to walk up and ask what we are training for and giving an incredulous look when we answer. Shouldn’t we be out pounding the pavement? Nonetheless, I will keep moving forward, with the faith that strength training ultimately leads to endurance.”


Regarding our dietary efforts, I followed the NRG Diet concept and have successfully maintained a whole food, lower carb approach for two full weeks.  When unable to eat at home I often opted for omelets, protein shakes, and tuna packs in sunflower oil.  These choices helped on busy days when choices get rushed.  I completely avoided beverages with sugar (sweet tea, sodas, beer, etc.)  In case you haven’t heard, these are prominent causes of rampant obesity in the United States.  


I honestly don’t crave much and notice good energy and good sleep.


David noted, “On the nutrition side, things have been going well. I’m relying heavily on Standard Process Standard Bars for quick breakfasts and protein boosting snacks.  I do get an empty gnawing in my gut at times which makes me think I may not be eating enough in general. I need to be careful to take in enough quality food each day to keep my body going during this time of increased physical and mental exertion.”


We have not re-measured our bodies this week  but I already suspect body fat and weight loss.  Personally, my abdominal girth has decreased. (Awesome because one of my Olympus Project goals was to reduce body fat and “Find a six pack.”)  —I’m still looking…..


I’ve been a competitive athlete at very high levels in my life.  I know I have tools to make changes and commit to “a little pain for gain.”  Our ongoing experiments with the Olympus Project has reignited my interest, to look internally for what personal, psychological, and physical decisions are made during the course of this journey–and why.


I think readers trying to “Bridge the Gap”  and move towards healthy lifestyles will value this insight.


Reflecting on our combined observations and experiences from the week, the word perseverance comes to mind.  When you start something new, every cramp, ache and pain doesn’t mean you have to quit! (I’m not talking about nervy, hot-poker pain, but rather general soreness.)


New diet and fitness routines always present new challenges.  Low carb- real food dieting isn’t a “new thing” for me so that part has been easy.   However, David and I both agree performing high-intensity/low volume fitness routine does challenge motivation and commitment.  I notice the requirement to CONSCIOUSLY push-on despite my body’s protest.  I’m not hurting myself, rather molding myself.


Goal tending (The act of making specific goals, monitoring specific steps, measuring and resetting as time progresses) plays a huge role in overcoming initial lack of motivation and momentum.  I like the concept because I understand goals are necessary to accomplish anything worthwhile.  So often I have counseled patients on weight loss, fatigue, or depression.  The best outcomes come from those that make and keep small, but incremental goals.  Goal tending requires writing specifics, making a plan, re-visiting that plan.  


I know I’m sore today, but what will tomorrow bring?  How far will my body adapt?  Will I crash and burn?


I hope readers persevere with their own new habits. Somewhere in my subconscious (or pseudo-subconscious) I actually suspect my initial goals may have been too conservative….I’m nearly 41….but I see muscles already adapting….in 2 weeks….hey alright.


Each day brings new hurdles.  Right now the keys are to manage soreness and monitor for injury.  Avoid simple temptation when it arises with diet modifications and make sure to continually review our goals.


Goal Tending is key.


Olympus Project Week Two Observations:

  1. When starting a new fitness routine, you will have soreness.  Don’t stop! Spend extra time stretching, icing, and warming up.
  2. Focus on hydration.  Cramping, fatigue, and exhaustion amplify with lack of focus on proper fluid intake.
  3. Perseverance: ‘Nothing worth finding is ever easy.”  Attitude is everything at this stage of transition.
  4. Goal Tend:  Make goals, write them down, define baby steps (finishing one more set/workout/rep), review goals daily
  5. Plan ahead with meals.  Shop on the weekends.  Cook in batches to speed meal prep during the week.


See you in week 3….feel free to shoot questions….share observations….and your own experience.


William Curtis, MD


Medical Director: Future Focus Family Medicine

NRG Tribe contributor

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Chris Story January 21, 2013, 1:51 am

    Bill…I will email you with some observations!

  • William Curtis January 21, 2013, 5:41 pm

    I look forward to your feedback Chris.

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