Mike! Put. Down. The. Doughnut!!! Is that ‘sugar-coated lie’ helping you toward improving fitness or obliterating it?
We all know the answer, yet in spite of Jocko’s unique moniker for sugary treats (sugar-coated lies), most of us tend to go past ‘everything in moderation’ when it comes to a few vices…
Lately, it’s been mint chocolate chip ice cream and Aldi’s off-brand Keebler Elf cookies. A couple of scoops won’t suffice quite like the whole pint.
And with each ‘relapse’, the same 3 stages of guilt cycle through my head.
Shame – Regret – Rebirth
The ‘Shame’ and ‘Regret’ pieces speak for themselves, but it’s the ‘Rebirth’ piece I’d like to touch on a bit.
After binging on some edible delicacy, I’ll typically swear off the item for the foreseeable future
For example – last week I ate a sleeve of cookies and then vowed to not touch a cookie again for the month.
Sometimes the vows work and more often than not they don’t. Until bing event stacks on top of binge event, and next thing I know my pants are a little tighter than normal and the scale is about 10 pounds heavy.
After losing 65 pounds for good, keeping the weight off is one vow that I will not break. And typically when I crest the 10-pounds-gained level, that’s when I get serious about getting back down to normal.
When it’s time to cut the baby fat, there’s one main method that’s worked time and again – consume fewer calories than your body burns during the day. I’ll revert back to that method and typically within a month, I’m feeling great and getting stronger.
But is this constant ebb-and-flow necessary?
Should I really need to gain 10 pounds before I re-learn that I’m my best self when I’m eating right, exercising regularly, and sleeping well?
No – I shouldn’t need to relearn that every 6-months.
I should keep with the perfect recipe described above consistently. I should exercise discipline in my life to make it happen, work toward improving fitness, and keeping my stress level low.
But for one reason or another – I don’t. For me, life can have a tendency to get in the way. And as a constant student of myself, these are the main excuses my brain uses to keep me from mainting my highest level of fitness.
Lack of sleep
Research has shown that getting less than a typical and healthy level of sleep can increase appetite and lead to more frequent binge eating. Hand up – I’ve proven this theory a time or two.
Erosion of willpower with snacking during the day
It starts with a pretzel rod at 10:00, then a handful of nuts and a granola bar. And when the appetite isn’t satisfied right away, I’ll head back to the well. Before I know it, I’m 500 calories in on a snacking binge at 10:00 am and I’m thinking, “What does it matter? Today’s lost. I’ll get back on the train tomorrow.”
I hate this but it’s true. (Don’t worry though, there’s a way to fight back below)
Increased stress lately
I could probably take out the ‘lately’ as stress finds a way into all of our lives at multiple points. And I could probably title this excuse with, “Reduced ability to manage my stress lately.”
So, as of two weeks ago, I’ve renewed my vow
I’m improving fitness by going from 210 pounds back down to 202. Also, I’m going back down to the loop on my belt that I seem to attain when I’m at my best and strongest. It’s only one loop away, but man is that a moral mile.
To make it happen, I’m not reverting back to counting calories as I had done previously, and as I had advised my wife to do just a few short months ago. I’ll be monitoring, though. Consciously tracking without writing them down.
And I’ll also be adding a wrinkle into this round…
I will be practicing intermittent fasting each day of October
For those not familiar, intermittent fasting is the practice of cycling between periods of eating and fasting within a day.
Here’s my plan:
- Fasting period: 8:00pm – 11:31am
- Eating period: 11:30am – 7:59pm
The difficult part here is obvious – practicing the discipline to not give in to the ‘hunger’ urge during the morning hours. But rather, to forgo eating calories until 11:30 (in my case). The rub here though is to not go crazy once the fast is broken. Discipline exercised here will be in the form of moderation – which is a good principle in general.
Improving fitness with intermittent fasting can have huge positive impact
I’ve read of many potential benefits with intermittent fasting. To name a few:
- Weight loss
- Cells begin to repair themselves at higher rates
- Lower risk of Type II Diabetes
- Reduced inflammation
- Lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and other metrics to improve heart health
Many other benefits have been touted as well, but time will tell.
I have been intermittently fasting each day for the past two weeks and I’m excited to see what results I see at the end of “Rocktober”.
Let me know if you’re interested in hearing my results or if you’ve tried the practice yourself!
Improving fitness is a daily battle
The ebb and flow of binge, vow, improve, regress, binge… isn’t good for our overall health. We’d be much better served to find our path toward better health, stay on that path, and add improvements along the way.
But such a Sisyphian process can be boring and cause us to lose focus as we gradually fall back off of our respective paths. The challenge we face frequently and the challenge I face now is to build a lifestyle that reduces or eliminates the “regress / binge” phase of our fitness battle.
I’m back on my path – 100% – and I hope you’ll join me!
(Photo courtesy of Steve Wiechman)