Archive for January, 2014|Monthly archive page

Fitness Quest, Year Two

Having nursed some light knee injuries, celebrated the holidays, and then spent the week of New Year’s Eve on call, I’m ready and more than willing to get back into the gym AND the dojo to start this second year in my Fitness Quest. It’s first leg on my path to Nidan* and also what hopes to be the beginning of some solid training in Brazilian Ju-Jitsu.

Weight’s not part of the issue — since April I’ve gotten down to 185 pounds** and have kept it steady since. While I’d like to get down to 180, my body fat’s a greater concern. I’ve bee hovering around 22% body fat, and to be quite honest, I’d like to see just how low I can reasonably take it. The goal is to get under 20% at the very least. It’s going to take some work.

In losing weight, there’s only one clinically proven path:

1) Mind what you eat (the calories you consume).

2) Be active (burn more calories than you consume).

How a person handles both depends on the individual — there’s no “magic method” that works for everybody, no matter what the hawkers on the internet say (“Buy my book to learn how to lose weight without dieting!”+). Moderation in eating works for some, others need to do more. Some get results just by walking three miles a day, while more than a few need to hit a treadmill or lift weights.

Thus far, a mix of weights and karate have gotten good results for me — but with the goals I’ve stated above I hope to get better. I want to be leaner and stronger. I want some extra muscle on my frame.

To help with that, I’m going to use a little tech. I’ll be picking up a heart rate monitor to better gauge the impact of my workouts. In addition, I picked up a FitBit — which is proving to be quite useful in gathering data and shaping my plan.

Since this has been my “recovery week,” which is how I usually handle being on-call, I’ve been using it to establish something of a baseline. Here’s what I’ve been finding out.

1) When I’m sedentary — where I sit around the house like a lazy knob — I burn about 76 calories an hour, or 1824 calories a day. I’m a bit more active than that. On the weekends I burn about 2200 calories on average without any exercise.

2) On a normal work day, again without any exercise, I burn about 2400 calories — again on average. This kind of surprises me, to be honest. I didn’t think my metabolism worked that well. For some reason I thought those numbers would be lower.

3) The quality of my sleep is not a problem. My FitBit can keep track of when I’m asleep and when I’m restless or awake. Given that I’ve been worried as to whether or not I have any problems in that department, I made use of that feature. The answer to that question is no — not when it rates my “sleep efficiency” at 95% on average. Guess I need to go to bed earlier.

Those first two items brought to light something that I should have known but never thought of: that my my body burns fuel over time. So, at least  for me, shifting my diet to six smaller meals through the day makes sense. I’ve been doing this since April/May, and it’s been working well so far as my weight goes.

But now I’m wondering if I need to tune my diet a little more to help with my body fat. I’m going to be keeping track of my calorie count as well as my burn with my FitBit page. It’s possible that I might not be eating enough to balance things out and build muscle mass. If my intake is too low, my body may think it’s starving, and thus storing food as fat while consuming the muscle I’ve been trying to build up.

Don’t get me wrong — my time at the gym has not been in vain. I’ve been getting stronger, but I don’t feel things are developing as I was hoping they should.

The next month and change should prove interesting. I’ll be tuning my diet as a I go. Martial arts training will continue as normal, but I’ll be doing a full body routine at the gym as opposed to the splits I’ve been doing.

I’m also going to try to build up my cardio to the point where I can run a nine minute mile, but that’s for the course of the year.

Ever forward!


*Second Degree Black Belt

**I drifted up to 191 over the last week of the holidays, but I’m not really worried about that.

+This is a form of bullshit. How you eat is a diet. It doesn’t matter whether it’s for happiness, weight loss or nutrition. A lot of hawkers who talk about how they lost a tremendous amount of weight will try to tell you that what they discovered is “the way” despite a lack of credentials or hard evidence. It’s best to consult with a doctor, a fitness trainer or a nutritionist and do some research before diving drafting up a fitness plan. These are people with training and understanding of physiology and metabolism to help you understand yourself and how to reach your goals.