Welp, 4 weeks in and I feel like I never took a break.  I don't mean that shitty or in any way negative, I just seem to have picked up very quickly from where I left off and have had no issues transitioning back into my high-structure mode of training and dieting.

The progress has been better than I had anticipated it would be.  I have high expectations for this next phase which will encompass the rest of this year and all of 2019.  Though I have high expectations, I also didn't want to set the expectations too high for the first 3 months because I didn't want to cause any injuries by coming back faster than I needed to.  I want to get a lot accomplished during this next phase and yet I still wanted to be careful for the first 3 months - or until the 1st of the year.

Right now, my strength is scaring me.  I do not mean that I am moving weights that I haven't moved in years due to being so strong.  What I do mean is that I am concerned because my strength levels are every bit of what they were during my prep before I pulled the plug early in the summer.  That really shouldn't have happened that quickly.  As much as I am allowing my strength to return faster than usual, I still feel I am being careful to not push too heavy, too soon.  I am not using weights that feel too heavy or make my joints ache, my back ache/hurt, etc.. 

I think the only muscle groups that aren't at 100% as far as strength right now is my chest and biceps.  The only reason these two muscle groups are lagging a little bit is due to my tender right wrist.  I can't figure out what the issue is and I keep having to use wrist wraps during any pressing movements because it not only hurts but it feels weak - as if it could give out at any moment (though it hasn't, yet).  This is obviously making me keep my poundages lower than normal for dumbbell pressing and barbell pressing.  With the lighter weights for pressing, the wrist won't be bothered during the actual pressing movement.  However, getting the dumbbells out of my lap and into place along with replacing the dumbbells after the set is what is irritating the wrist even more.  The plan is to use more machine pressing and more flye movements right now and it seems to be helping.  It will feel better for a few days and then I sleep on it wrong and it hurts again.

I won't post progress pictures until the entire 12-week phase is done even though I am taking pictures every 4 weeks.  Call me weird or insecure or whatever, but I don't like to post pictures of me being out of shape unless I am in great shape when I post them.  Hey, we all have our shit.

I can say that I did not expect to be very impressed with the change in my condition after only 4 weeks and was pleasantly surprised when I compared the before pics with the current pics.  I am obviously not yet in the shape I want to be in, but I am absolutely in better condition than I thought I would be at this early stage.  Of course, brown fat always looks better than white fat so the fact that I am tanning again is a bonus.  Plus, I am down 2 full sizes on my weight belt and my current weight is roughly 227 and I started at 222.5.  There is a bit of recomposition happening right now and I do not anticipate that my weight will go up over this current weight and will continue to slowly drop over the next 8 weeks.  I was up to 230 about 2 weeks into this 4-week phase so my weight went up, initially, and then has been trending downward each week, slowly.

I am not only evaluating this 12-week phase in increments of 4 weeks, but I am also not making any changes to my training, nutrition or supplementation plans outside of those 4-week evaluations, either.  So, for the last 4 weeks I have kept the same diet, training and supplementation plan.

Moving into this next 4-week phase these are the notes I have made:

* I am not changing anything with the training schedule or rotation.  I feel like I am progressing incredibly well and I don't feel that recovery will be any better or progress will be any faster if I change the training structure.

* Even though the progress has been good for my condition, I am going to make a small change into the diet primarily due to feeling a little bloated/distended in the midsection like I just am eating more food than I need.  Also, I have very little hunger by the time the Skipload comes around on the weekends so I am not very depleted.  Now, I don't NEED to be incredibly depleted, either.  I am just saying that I feel that dropping a small amount of calories would make my digestion better, allow my distention to drop some and still keep my progress going well while potentially getting leaner just a LITTLE faster.

* The only change I am making for the diet is I am going to pull out 6g of fat and 5g of protein from 5 meals.  This ends up being roughly 30g of fat being cut and 25g of protein for a total caloric drop of 370 calories per day.  However, what I will do is if I find that later in the week I am feeling more depleted than I want to and/or I feel that my workouts are starting to suffer from the lower calories, I will put those calories back in for a day or two right around Thursday and/or Friday.  I don't anticipate this needing to happen but it is there as an open option.

* I have not yet added the SCGS compound and likely will not until after this 12-week phase.  I want to grow during this 12-week phase but it is equally important to me that I get lean and into the condition that I want to maintain for 2019 while adding as much size as I can.  For that reason, I am simply leaving the SCGS compound out right now so that it doesn't get in the way of me getting lean (though it likely wouldn't, anyway) and so that it is a tool I can use for the next phase when I shift gears after the 1st of the year.

* I am still doing no cardio and I have no plans to do any cardio unless I find that I want to get leaner and my diet won't allow it without adding cardio.   I doubt that will happen because the level of leanness that I want to achieve is not so low that I believe it will require cardio. 

* The Skipload structure is going to remain the same, as well.  I have been having much cleaner Skiploads and I feel it has worked quite well.  Usually, the day or two after a Skipload I am more distended, holding water, etc..  Not so with the current Skiploads and I just FEEL better for doing it this way.  I am also not terribly depleted by the end of the week so I see no reason to have to really push the Skiploads, anyway.

My loads are usually about 3 meals and consist usually of 2 meals of sushi and one meal of something like a breakfast but not terribly heavy on carbs like usual.  My breakfasts right now are less french toast and pancakes and more eggs or an omelet along with fruit and sometimes yogurt.  I also like to have lox and bagels, as well.   I haven't had a burger since starting back and I haven't had a heavy breakfast or pizza, either.  For now, this is working very well so I am going to run with it.

The goal for the next 4 weeks is to get leaner but also to continue to increase my strength to the point where in another 4 weeks I want to say that I am putting up weights that I haven't put up in a long time.  I also want my distention to be less and my waist to be down at least another notch on my weight belt and 2 would be even better.  If I were to drop another 2 belt holes, I would only be 1 hole away from where I was when I pulled the plug on the prep in early summer.  If I had to guess, to achieve all of this in the next 4 weeks it would likely put me at a scale weight closer to 225 but this is only a guess - my best guess.