Still On The Quest, Just Nothing To Report
Well, I have some things to report…just no progress towards the “50″ goal. I’ve been distracted by the rest of my life, so blogging has not been too high on the list of priorities. I am still with the program. I am still paying attention to weight loss, but the last few weeks I have not been able to get out and hike much, although I do have one backlogged hike to post. Plus, I’ve transitioned into a new job, which has brought all the predictable challenges of stress and unusual amounts of time consumed.
Ergo, I’ve been maintaining, but not losing, any weight for several weeks now. Each Monday, I’m in the 203 – 205 range. I am working out 3-5 times a week. I’ve not been very good about what I eat; I think the term for me is a “stress eater”. These last few weeks have been decidedly stressful, and I’ve been decidedly consuming more calories than I ought. The net result is that whatever excess calories I’ve taken in, I’ve burned off at the gym, net result, zero.
I have joined a new gym as a result of my job change. I’m now at Planet Fitness, which has all the cardio and resistance training equipment I could want. I don’t really care about luxury health club items like a steam room or pool. I used to care about racquetball, until it dawned on me that my schedule is already so rigorous that I’d never be able to fit brackets into my life. Hitting the ball off the wall by myself was fun for a while, but got boring. P-Fit has enough machines to keep me plenty entertained. I can get as good of a workout there as I want, and it’s very affordable at only $10 a month.
I have changed my workout somewhat dramatically over the last two weeks. For a long stretch, I was doing almost all cardio work, where I’d use a stairclimber, treadclimber, or incline trainer for 45 – 60 minutes. I did no resistance training at all. While that was good for improving my ability to deliver oxygen to my body and recover my heart rate after stress, I wasn’t losing weight – and that, despite regularly blowing through a machine-reported 1,000 calories at a workout. Reading up on this, I found that (1) the machines are only guessing at how much work your body is doing, and that your actual heart rate during the workout has a lot to do with how many calories you’re really burning. (2) I found that a lot of aerobic exercise makes your body very efficient at storing fat. Wonderful. (3) Bulking up your muscles is the best way to get your metabolism hot enough to keep burning excess calories, even when you’re not working out.
My workouts are now a mix of cardio and resistance training. Several years ago, I did a program of mostly weight training, so I have some familiarity with how to bulk up my muscle mass. The strategy that used to work for me was a series of reps where you put on as much weight as you can handle, such that you do 10 reps and just about fail on that 10th rep. For the second set, add a small amount of weight, and do reps to fail again. For the third set, add a little more weight, and do reps to fail. That’s it for that set – go work a different muscle group. Depending on what muscles I’m working, that usually translates to 10 – 8 – 6, but not always. It’s all new to my body, so I’ve been conservative on the weight that I’m using thus far while I get used to it. A lot of times, I don’t have enough weight on the first set to fail at 10 reps – I could have added 10 – 15% more. I still stop at 10 reps, though. I’ll work into it over the next few weeks and see how it goes.
I still do hard cardio, but instead of 45 – 60+ minutes, I have been keeping it to 15 – 30. This is how I start my workout most days – some sort of cardio – running, elliptical – and usually as manual intervals. I watch my heart rate closely, and set the machine such that run in the 150s for a couple of minutes, then reduce the exercise until my heart rate dips back into the 120′s. Then I crank it back up. If I’m in the mood, I might push into the high 160s just because. After 30 minutes of that, I head to the resistance machines, and do 15 – 30 minutes, depending on how much cardio I actually did and how much time I have before I have to leave for work. Some days I emphasize the cardio, and others the resistance.
I know that I’m keep the fat at bay in that my pants are fitting as comfortably as they ever have. I’ve had to go another notch tighter in my belt, and I usually hope that my jeans shrink in the wash so that they fit correctly. Here’s the challenge with moving to more resistance training though – while I have that waistline indicator, muscle weighs more than fat. So I could be losing fat and gaining muscle, but the scale won’t be much of an indicator about how I’m really doing, at least for a while as I go through the program transition. I am planning to buy a body fat meter to help me gauge my progress better. Our bathroom scale includes a body fat indicator, but it’s wildly inaccurate, giving readings on me of anywhere from 20% – 35%. The body fat meter should also appropriately scold me for my dietary indiscretions, something I know I will have to give more thought to.