Thursday, June 9, 2011

My N=1 Experiment The next Phase

So I've been thinking a lot lately about how far I've gone with the diet thing and where I should go from here. That last 15-20 pounds had not come off which was frustrating but when I consider that I was almost 300 pounds 8 years ago and I have kept the vast majority of the weight I lost off, I can't beat myself up about it.

So where do I go from here? I think at this stage I need to concentrate on something different health wise and I believe that thing is fitness. One thing I agree with Gary Taubes about (one of many things) is that excercise does not really help in terms of weight loss. I don't necessarily agree that it is only because it makes one hungry but also that the body can react to the slightly increased energy expenditure by both manifesting hunger to replace that energy and also by tiredness slowing the body down to conserve remaining energy.

However, I do believe that there are some basic things a fit, healthy person should be able to do. For example, I think a fit, healthy person should be able to run 5K. I can't do that right now. I don't have the endurance to do so, but I think that being able to do so is a sign of a basic level of fitness. I think being able to do a chin-up (just one) is a basic fitness thing. I've never been able to do one. I have been able to do a pull up (hands facing in) but not a chin-up (hands facing out, at least I hope I have that right).

So my focus over the summer (thank goodness it's summer!) will be to work on these things. One of the reasons I've picked these goals is that I think I have a significant amount of influence over whether or not I can achieve them. The last 15-20 pounds, well apparently my influence is not as great with those.

Obviously, I cannot ignore diet in this quest for fitness but I think for the most part I can go on auto-pilot in terms of that as long as I follow a few basic principles. To that end, I think I need to list the basic principles I will follow over the next few months, both in terms of exercising and diet. So here's a first go:

  1. Eat no grains or sugar. These things just have a bad effect on my body and hunger levels so they are out. 
  2. Tubers only once or twice a week and always leave some behind. I have been eating more tubers (mainly potato) lately and they don't seem to have a strong effect on my hunger. However, I do not want to overdo.
  3. Cheats will be allowed one meal every week and a half but must be minor (an extra tuber in a week or a small desert).
  4. Try to notice how a meal makes me feel immediately afterwards and an hour afterwards. Try to notice the effect that the quantity and type of food I eat has on my body and adjust my diet accordingly.
  5. When I do a resistance training workout, I will not do another resistance training workout until I feel fully recovered. I do have a tendency to go back while still very sore and stiff. I think I need to listen to my body and instincts more in that regard.
  6. When I do a run, same thing. 
  7. Walk as much as possible. My wife and I have been walking after dinner and on weekends. It's great for us to bond as a couple, and not strenuous so even if I am recovering from a workout, it is possible. 
  8. Try something new at least once or twice a month. that may be a new recipe or going kayaking. Something slightly outside of my comfort zone but still fun.
  9. I will not weigh myself until September. I haven't weighed myself in over a month and frankly, I like it. The weight may or may not come off with this. Instead I'll try to notice other, more qualitative changes. Pants fitting better, mood improving, etc.
  10. Get outside in the sun when possible. 
  11. Have fun, enjoy all of this!
So there we go, that's what the next 2-3 months are going to look for me. I think I'm going to like this new phase. Not exactly a maintenance thing but definitely concentrating on enhancing my health rather than trying to recapture it. 

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