Healthy Byte: Saying Goodbye

ORIGINAL CONTENT:

It has been almost six years since I have reached my weight loss goal and maintained it. Maintenance has been challenging and complicated with the burdens of getting older.

Along with the natural aging process of added wrinkles and sprouting of salt in our pepper the physical evolution is both noticeable and impactful. According to a study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information:

One of the most striking effects of age is the involuntary loss of muscle mass, strength, and function, termed sarcopenia [13]. Muscle mass decreases approximately 3–8% per decade after the age of 30 and this rate of decline is even higher after the age of 60 [4,5].

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2804956/#:~:text=One%20of%20the%20most%20striking,60%20%5B4%2C5%5D.

Some basic knowledge about muscle verses fat: #1 Muscles burns more calories than fat #2 Muscles weigh more than fat #3 We naturally lose muscles as we age

Therefore the true fountain of youth is to at a minimum, do enough strength training to mitigate the rate of natural muscle loss. Sounds simple enough but for someone who has been overweight and have been groomed to attribute success to set numbers, numbers on the scale and number of the BMI calculation, purposely engaging in an activity which would result in weight gain was very difficult task to embark upon.

But embarked I did … repeatedly … and failed. My vicious cycle of starting regular strength training, gain weight, panic, and quit continued through the majority of my weight maintenance. Until one day, a Facebook ad for a free class at OrangeTheory Fitness changed everything. OrangeTheory is HIIT training classes where every class has a session on the treadmill, rower, and strength training. It is the first time that I’ve stuck with regularly strength training for more than a few months. I absolutely adore the muscle definition on my shoulders and arms & every time I glanced at myself in the studio mirrors, I internally giggle a little.

HOWEVER, along with the muscles, my weight crept up … uncomfortably so. My old struggles with weight resurfaced and I continued to battle with a higher BMI and how the number on the scale was defining my alleged failure. I weigh myself on a weekly bases and if I had lost weight I was emotionally elated, relieved, empowered. But when I gained weight, I was defeated, depressed, and felt incredibly fat. It was heartbreaking to watch the numbers on the scale continue to climb even though I religiously attended OrangeTheory classes a minimum of four times a week.

This passed spring I completed my first full DriTri at OrangeTheory. DriTri is intended to simulate a triathlon with 2000 meters on the rower, a total of 300 body weight exercises on the floor, topped of with a 5K on the treads. I was stunned that I was not the last to finish in my heat, but more importantly I noticed that my overall finish time was better than some members 10 -20 years my junior! It was a testament to all the sweat equity I had invested for the last 4 years but it was also a validation that despite what the scale stated, I had no reason to feel defeated or be depressed about and I certainly was not fat.

And with that, I made the decision to forego the scale going forward. I have stopped my weekly weigh ins and as a matter of fact, I haven’t weigh myself for a little over a month now its quite liberating. I figured if I continue to eat responsibly and continue being physically active, the scale is a tool I no longer needed with my weight loss maintenance journey.

Healthy Byte: Day 1120

I apologize for my absence in posting these but life as it is has been dominating my every waking moment. And when it’s not I rejuvenate at the gym so that I refrain from committing a felony (I kid) … (sorta) … (no, seriously just kidding) … (kinda).

Anywho I thought I’d take this opportunity to share my top NSVs 1120 days in:

NSV #1 – After 3 plus years of reducing my sugar intake I can proudly & finally say that I 100% free from drinking added sugar regularly.

Remember this? IMAG2622

Over the weekend I was finally able to bid farewell my psychological spoonful of sugar in my tea (the smallest one “DASH”) . I now drink tea with just a dash of organic skim milk and am proud to say that I do not drink any additional sugar. YAY!

NSV #2 – Remember this? Hanging leg raises – hardcore abs burner. 

What I managed …   

The first time I tried a hanging leg raise I just hung there … like grandma underwear on the clothes line.  Not only did I not have the physical strength to do anything without risking falling but I was also too afraid to move for fear of failling. SO I literally started the hanging leg lifts by hanging there … like an idiot. I was SO embarrassed that I actually took it out of my routine until I felt stronger. A few months later when I tried it again I was pleasantly surprised with my watered down version: It’s a far cry from the full version but it is a mark improvement from just imitating laundry, no? 

NSV #3 – I am finally loosening my death grip on that little number on the scale because my focus has changed. I will still weigh in every 4-6 weeks but my focus now is more on increase muscle. Parting ways emotionally with the scale has been & remains one of my biggest hurdles in maintenance because for over 3 years now weight has been my one & only marker for progress / continued success. And although it has served me well, in maintenance I have found it to be more of a nuisance and not all that helpful in some cases.

SO for now I will be focusing more on the tape measure and this little guy   (body fat pincher). I am chosing to focus on building muscles (not bulking) because unfortunately muscle deterioration is a part of aging. However it is not an inevitable phenomena which cannot be undone. On the contrary science has shown that at the very minimum the erosion can be halted if not somewhat reversed. As I have mentioned many times before, I think many are still stuck on the thought that “strength training” = “weight lifting / bodybuilding” and it does not. There are a multitude of ways to strength train, from isometric holds, to body weight (resistance), to yes, outright weight lifting. The choice is largely dependent on the individual goals, time, and lifestyle. So I think of my choices as this: I can either continue to decrease my caloric intake to compensate for less muscles to burn calories with OR I can maintain or increase the muscles I have in order to maximize the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. I choose the ladder.  I will still do my BBWOB resistance cardio but I will continue incorporate additional body weight strength training in order to continue to transition away from ‘weight’ as holy grail of continued success.

 

Some articles on the benefits / importance of strength training: HERE , HERE , or HERE

 

Some sample strength training routines to get you started:

Isometric Holds

http://greatist.com/move/isometric-exercises

http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness_articles.asp?id=972&page=3

Body Weight

http://www.menshealth.com/fitness/bodyweight-circuit-workout

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/becker20.htm

 

Weight Lifting

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/expert-answers/weight-training/faq-20058479