Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Exercise away the plateau?

I have to admit it, I'm lazy as hell. I've never been all that keen on exercising, or when I was a kid, playing. Back then, I liked to stay inside and read instead.

One summer when I was in college, I did a summer program where I was a camp counselor glorified baby sitter for high school students. We were expected to stay in the dorm pretty much around the clock with the kids. The gym however, was an acceptable place to be if we weren't in the dorm. So I started going to the gym to get the hell away from the dorm and the kids. I exercised everyday almost for about two or three hours. I had never been to the gym so much in my life. Why did I do this? I'm sure you've heard of the 'freshman 15' where the new college student gains fifteen pounds from eating the crap that Sodexo (used to be called Sodexho), or some similar food service, serves. I had gained something like 90 pounds in the two years that I had been at school. I never thought I particularly stuffed my face. I simply ate until I wasn't hungry. Skinny people do that all the time and don't gain weight. Anyway, I was approaching 250 pounds, and this after I had been down to 163 pounds (after eating Atkins no less!), from a high of 270 pounds when I was in high school. Let's just say, I wasn't having any of it.

This is before I understood how low carb works, so in addition to going to the gym I cut back my food intake. I was hungry all summer, but I lost twenty-five pounds (which left me at about 225 pounds) and in the end found it easier to do the elliptical machine for nearly an hour. I also lifted weights too. The last time I went to the gym, which was just before school started for the fall, this skinny bitch approached me and told me that I ought not to lift weights until I had lost more weight. Really? People seem quite capable of poking into your personal business. I shut her up by telling her my doctor had told me to. Well, I didn't have a doctor, but most doctors would tell you that resistance training is beneficial, especially if you're overweight.

I stopped going to the gym because during my senior year, I barely had time to sleep, much less exercise. I did maintain my weight though, and I credit that to living in an apartment-style dorm and not eating at the cafeteria very often. I think Sodexo makes it a point to inject sugar, er, I mean High Fructose Corn Syrup, into all of their food. Typical fare was a burger with fries, or mystery meat with potatoes and some other vegetable. Don't get me wrong, if I had understood how low carb worked, I could have probably eaten there on it. I just didn't know at the time. Ignorance is not bliss.

When I graduated I stayed about 225 pounds for a while. Then I decided that I really wanted to lose some weight since I was going to Europe, so I started restricting calories and going to the gym again. I typically walked on the treadmill for an hour with it set to being inclined. I did lose another twenty pounds. After my trip, all the weight came right back the second I started eating until I was content. That's a great thing about low-carb. You can eat until you're not hungry, and you don't gain weight. The same could never be said when I wasn't doing low-carb.

Anyway, I was back at 220 pounds when I started this low carb journey back in May of last year. I'm currently at about 180 lbs, which I haven't weighed since before I went to college.

So what's the point of my story? About exercise. When I used to walk a lot, especially before my trip to Europe in 2009, I would be so sore. All the time. My legs used to feel like they were on fire the next day, especially if I skived off of walking for a few weeks and then started doing it again. (Maybe the pain is what made me not ever have the inclination to be a gym rat.) The first day after walking a few miles was always hell. And it often didn't get much better. I would think, 'I have been walking five miles every other day, shouldn't it get easier?'

Well, I've been stuck at 180 pounds for about a month now, and it's kinda annoying. I am 5'9" tall, and I think I probably ought to weigh 160 or maybe a little less. My BMI is currently 26.6, which is slightly overweight. I might ought to weigh 150, I'm not sure. I'd have to see when I get to 160. Anyway, I decided that I could do one of three things to break this plateau. I could try exercising, which I haven't done, because as I said at the beginning of this, I'm lazy as hell, not to mention I'm not masochistic. I don't like pain. The second thing I could do is cut out the diet coke and splenda sweetened kool-aid I drink, since artificial sweeteners could be a problem because they do raise insulin levels (I hate plain water, and I have cut back on the diet coke, you don't even want to know how much I used to drink). Or I could cut out the bit of dairy I eat (mostly cream or half and half) since I have read of other people who said dairy caused them to plateau. I decided I wanted to try exercising first. Walking is probably good for us, and I want to go backpacking in Europe again someday, so if I keep up being able to walk long distances, that would be a good thing.

I walked two miles yesterday. This after not walking, much less exercising, in months. I'm not sore today. I suspect it's the low carb diet, which reduces inflammation. (Inflammation causes pain, particularly in the joints). It's pretty amazing actually. I'm hoping this breaks the plateau. I'll let you know.

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