Last week, I asked you about motivation related to physical fitness. I was really inspired by your answers, so I went a little off the deep end yesterday. Literally.
I paid $50 to get my body fat measured in the most accurate way possible. It’s called a hydrostatic immersion test. Here I am in the tub:
Ready for the big numbers? Here is where I stand:
- Height: 5′ 11″
- Weight: 163.4
- Body fat: 22.1%
- Lean mass: 127.3 pounds
- Fat mass: 36.1 pounds
I was taken aback by the body fat percentage. I thought that I would be in the high teens. 22.1 percent was a nasty surprise.
I’m hoping to get close to 10%, but I have a long way to go. To lose half of my fat, I’d have to lose 18 pounds which would bring my weight down to 145 pounds.
However, I’m not interested in just burning fat. More than a couple readers pointed out that I should focus on building muscle and not cardio. Mr. Money Mustache, who has a hell of a physique, agrees with this too.
So from here on out, I’m going to focus on building muscle rather than losing weight. I’m still going to bike twice per week, but I’m going to back off on the running. I’m also going to increase my caloric intake.
And my bet still stands. If I’m not under 160 by the end of September or cannot do 10 pull-ups, one lucky reader still gets a $100 Amazon gift card.
Here is what I learned from you:
I liked Done by Forty’s subtle psychological tricks:
My only reliable secret is to reduce activation energy for good behavior. So for working out, instead of telling myself I’m working out…I just tell myself I have to put on my running shoes. If I get them on, then I don’t have to go for a run, I just have to step outside and see how I feel (or that’s what I tell myself). I also sleep in clothes appropriate for working out, so it requires as little as possible to get that first step going.
I’m not a gym person at all, so when I got into running a few years back, it was a nice way to stay more fit. But, it gets SO friggin’ boring at times that I found it hard to stay motivated and actually run. Then I discovered if I signed up for a race I had “a reason” to run/exercise.
My reason is my battle with Mr. WoW. He has a huge lead and is pulling away, but I’m not giving up:
Financial Freedom Sloth encouraged me to do something that I like:
Exercise wise: the best is chose something you actually like doing. And then build up a routine in it (some moment on same day of the week) so it becomes a habit.
I enjoy P90x and it worked for me previously, so I’m sticking with that for now. Eventually I plan to try shorter, more intense workouts.
A common comment was that diet is much more important than exercise.
I love using the slow carb diet. Great way to easily adjust, then deflate one day a week.
My best advice is to track calories aiming for clean, unprocessed foods.
While exercise may be important, changing your diet will probably have the biggest impact if you want to lose weight.
For me, losing weight is 95% healthy food and 5% exercise.
Muscles, Cardio and Fat Loss
Strength training is better than cardio for fat loss. But anything is better than nothing.
Strength training builds muscle mass which burns more calories long past working out. While yes, cardio burns more initial calories, your body becomes a “fat burning machine” when you strength train which is better in the long run.
Why are you tracking body weight and not body fat%?
Reader Mack mentioned the book Bigger, Leaner Stronger. My library system didn’t have it, but the book had great reviews, so I bought it. I’m only one-third of the way through, but so far, I love it. In addition to diet and lifting techniques, the book goes into detail on motivation and willpower.
I loved Crispy Doc’s comment:
My best adherence to an exercise regimen is when the gym becomes a place I love: the outdoors. I can manage weights once a week 9listening to a podcast to enjoy it more), but the remainder of the time I take a two hour vigorous hike (again listening to a downloaded podcast), go kayaking or kayak surfing, or take the kids bodyboarding at the beach.
This is wonderful advice. If you’re reading this on Monday morning, I’m hiking Long’s Peak in my backyard.
Catherine had a lot of great wisdom, but the most meaningful comment from her was this:
Sleep – not sure how your sleep quality is but more/better sleep will promote fat loss over muscle loss during a calorie deficit. You want to lose fat not muscle if you want to succeed at that pull-up goal!
More on this in a moment.
And finally, Reader Steve let me have it:
You want to know the secret to losing weight? DONT EAT SHIT! Stop eating things with high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, sugar, (any kind), processed meats, canned foods, fast food, white bread, cheeses. I can go on and on. Stop snacking on chips pretzels doughnuts. Trust me, once you get out of the habit on munching on crap and snacking, you will no longer desire it. In fact, it will make you sick to eat it. You don’t need and gimmick diets. You don’t need to weigh your food, count calories or give yourself a treat. (Your not a dog or a six year old). You are a grown adult, acted like it!
You spent all this time to save money and retire early, (which is fricking awesome!), but you are too lazy to take care of your one biggest asset. You!
I love this! Steve, you’re totally correct! It’s time to get serious from here on out. Screw the donuts and beer, especially at the same time!
Where do I go now?
I have another body fat test scheduled for 10/8. I’m going to exercise like a banshee until then and see what I can do with my numbers. After that, I’ll tweak and experiment depending on results.
When I’m on a plane, I get jealous looking around at all of the other passengers sleeping. I can’t even fall asleep when I’m in my bed. Some of it has to do with Mrs. 1500’s snoring, but most of the problem is with me.
Mrs. 1500 note: Yeah, you’re sleeping on the couch tonight.
I HATE it that I don’t fall asleep easily. When I’m tired:
- I have no motivation.
- I have no willpower.
- It takes me forever to recover from a workout.
It isn’t an exaggeration that lack of sleep is the number one problem in my life.
I realize that this is mostly genetic, but some of it is my own fault too. I have issues with turning my brain off at night. I don’t know why it took 40 years to figure out that if you lay there thinking about stuff, you don’t fall asleep. But whatever.
Do you sleep easily? If so, how? And how do you shut your brain off?
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