With five of eight weeks out of the way in my weight loss contest, I am beginning to see progress. I am ranked third out of the contestants at my club, not too shabby. Of course the challenge is to maintain that momentum into the latter weeks—those where willpower begins to decrease.
A friend recently asked me what I am doing differently between my previous strength training program and my current slimming initiative. Strength training is characterized by lifting heavy weights, dumb bells, bar bells, and resistance machines, in sets of ten or less. The objective is to encourage the body to increase its muscle mass by forcing it to heal the damage created by heavy lifting. If given enough time to repair, this results in incremental strength enhancement. So strength training requires a consistent exercise regimen focused on building muscle mass, enough quality downtime for the body to fully heal, and the nutritional resources to make those repairs.
Slimming occurs when the body is running a caloric deficit. It is difficult to build muscle while losing weight. Most of the quick weight loss with dieting and exercise comes from water loss. This is why people see big gains in the first weeks of crash diets followed by plateaus. You can burn through several pounds of water in a good workout but 45 minutes on a treadmill will only consume 700 of the 3500 calories needed to burn off a pound of bio mass. Your body will adapt to your current physical needs given the necessary time and resources. The challenge is that if you are cutting, you are not providing those resources thereby forcing your metabolism to pull from your reserves.
In order to focus on losing weight over building muscle, I have:
• Stopped lifting free weights during my Sunday sessions.
• Decreased my caloric intake.
• Focused on quality protein to provide long burning energy.
• Centered more time on being active than on specific exercises.
• Planned more of my time to keep me active and away from the fridge.
• Entered a weight loss contest at the gym and a step contest at work.
I weighed in after the Easter holiday at .4 more pounds than the previous week. Part of that was eating a full Easter dinner but more of it was due to not having a Sunday workout. This past Tuesday saw me down to 248 pounds. I weigh in pre-workout due to transportation schedules. After an hour and a half of boxing and cardio I was down to 244 pounds. The preceding Sunday saw me down to 243 pounds—240 pounds if you count the stripped down weigh in after an hour in the pool. What you measure, how you measure, and when you measure matters. I am going to take a half day off of work before the final contest weigh in. I am going to blow through an hour or two of cardio—probably without shoes since that seems to be how everyone else is weighing in. Until then I would rather weigh in at the same time under the same conditions each week.
This time last year I weighed about 300 pounds. I got down to 235 as of July 2015 by pushing dehydration and my caloric deficit to extreme levels. While I cut pounds I also did damage to my body—damage that my body did not have the resources to repair. By rotating cutting and strength building cycles I have left myself in much better physical condition. Yesterday I went through 15 real pushups—not from the knees but honest hands and tippy toes pushups. A couple of weeks ago I did over a hundred pushups from the knees during my weekly boxing class. I have started using a ball chair at home to strengthen my back and core muscles. I can hold a plank for over a minute. There is still flab to cut. I still have periodic issues with my knees. All that being said, I want people reading this to realize that part of strength building is cutting weight and vice versa. In order to do the cardio you need to lose weight quickly and responsibly you have to have the requisite physical conditioning. You cannot take part in many of the most effective exercise programs if your weight keeps you from running, stretching, and full range of motion. Some of the 26 pounds I gained between July 2015 and March 2016 were fat but some of them were muscle too. That muscle will serve me well in the months to come.