I Didn't Need a Ruler To Prove the Obvious

As I wrote a couple weeks ago I really need to start getting back ahold of my fitness. As my clothes got tighter and the scale (with body fat measurement) kept creeping up I was feeling more and more desperation.  I needed to break my procrastination on this matter, which has been dragging on since late-July.  After three years of tracking food, two years of sporadic but periodic exercise and eating solid during the week and lax on weekends I had pushed myself into my experiment and burned myself out on the whole matter.  Yes, that was after personal trials that provided good excuses for going off the wagon, so to speak, but it’s still just rationalizations.

With my “fat clothes” that were supposed to be thrown away but instead put in permanent storage now what fit me easiest, I started the climb back yesterday by taking my measurements and setting my baseline.  I can feel how off everything is, so it’s not like I needed the ruler (or the scale or body fat percentage reading) to tell me that things were off the rails. It just provides good feedback.  The bottom line is that it is far easier to fall back than it is to claw your way forward or maintain a certain level of fitness.

I won’t post specific measurements, but suffice it to say that three months of not exercising, eating pretty piss poor even with reasonable (but negative) calorie balances and being overly sedentary have taken its toll. Weight wise things are deceiving.  I’m still hovering just under 190 pounds. That’s where I’ve been basically since the end of May, with the exception of when I was on the Paleo phase.  However I have had peaks as high as 193 over the last couple of weeks.  As more proof that weight isn’t everything when you factor in body composition that’s where you can see the real bomb going off.  Yes, my weight is pretty much the same but my percent body fat has shot up above 20% for the first time since March 2011.  That trend is measured both with the on-scale body fat measurement and with skin fold calipers.  This is actually the largest skin fold measurement I have taken since 2006, which just was less body fat on a younger body.  In three months I’ve lost anywhere between five and six pounds of muscle.  I’ve gained a proportional amount of fat.

That actually creates a double problem.  Fat doesn’t burn as many calories as muscle.  I’m therefore not only getting fatter, my base metabolism is also going down which will reinforce the fat gain feedback cycle.  That’s a problem at any age, but when you hit your late-30s, early-40s the problem of muscle atrophy begins to accelerate.  How did I have such a steep drop off?  I hadn’t been exercising much this past year, but recently it has been none.  I guess it turns out that a little is substantially better than none, even if it’s not as good as it should be.

The extra fat showed up in how my clothes were fitting, but that really showed up most in my abdomen measurements.  In three months my chest circumference went up by one inch, my hip circumference went up by 0.75 inches, my torso went up by 1.25 inches and my belly went up by 1.75 inches.  That’s the same weight but with a 5-6 pound swing in fat and muscle mass landing straight on my core.

If I just sulk and bitch and moan then this will continue to devolve into even more disasterous proportions. Instead I’m trying to clamp down on my eating, introduce at least 15 minutes a day of exercise each day to get into a rhythm and hope that some of these short term gains turn into short term losses.