Isolating Exercise For Fitness Improvement

When I get into a fitness groove it is often a combination of diet and exercise that really happen at the same time.  Even when doing a long stretch of “being healthy” it’s really the combination of the two.  And when I do that I go into full Rambo mode on both, versus kind of muddling through.  Because the two happen at the same time it is hard for me to break out whether it is one or the other or the combination that is really the driving factor.  I’ve always wanted to see if it was diet or exercise that was driving that.  I’m now set up to do just that.

I had my eight week health Rambo mode back in the summer where I used the Eating To Live eight week transition diet with a ramp up in exercise to drop 16 pounds and over four percentage points of body fat over that period of time.  I was really humming and had hoped to trend that down to 180 pounds by the end of the year and another few percentage points of body fat down as well.  Instead in the intervening months I’ve had a combination of work stress, apathy, and generally self-induced excuses leading me right back up to my standard overly sedentary and not eating too great equilibrium weight around 200 pounds and body composition north of 20% bodyfat (22% right now).

I could whine and bitch about letting stuff go…again…, but I won’t.  I will use it as an excuse to try an exercise dominated fitness period rather than my usual diet and exercise period.  I want to track and trend a few parameters over the twelve weeks that I’m going to do this: resting heart rate, cardiovascular fitness, body composition. The parameters of the experiment are as follows:

  1. I’m not going to actively choose to eat dramatically different than I have been. I haven’t been eating poorly, just eating more calories than I should be and indulging in sweets more than is appropriate.  A lot of that is happening on weekends more than during the week.  I’ll keep all of that up, but the important thing will be to make sure that my average calorie consumption doesn’t increase above where it is.  I will allow for a swing of a couple hundred on the average calories a day in either direction, but I can’t be adding several hundred calories or more a day each day to “compensate” for exercise.  I’m also not going to dramatically change my eating habits.  I’m not abstaining from certain foods or drinks, nor overindulging in any particular foods.  I will probably naturally eat a little healthier since that’s what tends to happen when I exercise but that’s the extent of it.
  2. Cardiovascular fitness is a big part of my motivation so I want to make sure I’m getting good cardio work.  Initially that will be a lot of elliptical and low impact work with longer walks mixed in.  I’m going to try for over 10,000 “steps” a day with an ever increasing mix of higher speed cardio work and running as time moves on.
  3. Strength fitness is another part of my motivation.  I’m going to add in both calisthenics and free weight exercises.  A lot of this will also be directed towards cross training for the above mentioned cardiovascular exercises.
  4. Yoga, stretching, and foam rolling will be important to limber me up and keep me from having any muscle imbalance induced problems.
  5. It’s about moving!  I’m overly sedentary, so all of the above will be gym/workout routines that I intend to do six days a week.  That doesn’t mean I’m going full blown workouts for all body parts, every day, but it does mean that I’m consciously getting my butt moving and working out.
  6. Listening to my body is implied in all of the above.  I need to power through being “too tired” to work out which is really my brain’s latent ability to always convince me why I don’t have the energy to work out.  However that doesn’t mean ignoring early signs of overtraining or ramping things up too quickly.  By the end I want to be in better shape not a wreck.

On we go!