Day 167-2 (F, 120615) — To Exercise or No?

Moving Primally.  Two months ago, on April 11, I stopped exercising:

[I’ll] come back [to it] eventually, but, for now, this will allow me to focus my attention on food: what am I eating and how much.

It acknowledges that, for me, exercise improves fitness, not decreases weight: 90% of any fat loss I achieve is based solely on the food I eat.

Eat right and I’ll see the scale move.  Eat poorly and I won’t, no matter how much or how quickly I move.

It also helps prevent burnout.  I’ve seen how over-committing can sabotage a program, both in myself and others.   By working on one issue at a time (fixing my food), I will lower my stress and improve my chances of success.

Success!  My presumptions have been born out given the results I mentioned Wednesday — “In mid-April I weighed 207.7.  Since then, I’ve averaged around 201, +/- about 2.5 pounds.”  All without any exercise other than my 2-hour Saturday morning game of Ultimate Frisbee.

As I eat, so shall I weigh.

But . . . I really miss the way my upper body looked when I worked out 2-3 times each week: my arms, chest, and shoulders were looking better and I liked it.  Plus, for the first time I could really feel abs — abs! — under my fat.  I enjoyed simply being stronger, too.

The Doubt.  On the one hand, I still need to drop another 15-20 pounds to get rid of more belly fat.  I’m committed to finally reaching my goal of 185 pounds (a weight I haven’t carried since I was a junior in high school) and being stable at that weight (+/- 3 lbs. week to week).  I’m not sure I can do this if I rejoin the ranks of the working (out) right now.

On the other hand, I’m really bothered as I watch my upper body lose some of the results I worked so hard to achieve over the past year.

I think the next few months should see an improvement in my eating: fewer “special occasions” and more consistent low-carb / 1500-calorie days.

I just don’t know if I can mix these two things and make it work.

What do you think? Got any ideas or suggestions I should consider?


6 responses to “Day 167-2 (F, 120615) — To Exercise or No?

  1. I struggle with this same dilemma : )

    A few weeks ago I started CrossFit (didn’t do it this past week due to schedule and very sore hamstrings as a result of sprinting/working out on my own). Have noticed definite toning and ‘leaning out’ physically – especially in the ~10lb of belly fat I’ve been holding onto – that has all of a sudden disappeared. My upper body has toned up quite noticeably all of a sudden and I feel stronger.

    BUT….I’ve put on ~5 pounds of weight. It’s definitely pure muscle but still, it’s a bit concerning. I’ll continue to watch it.

    As an aside – My impression so far is that CrossFit is not ideal for long-term but my goal was weight loss last year and fitness this year. Fatigue has been an issue due to the super-high intensity of crossfit. But for results and motivation factor, there is no better fitness program, in my opinion, than CrossFit so I’m going to push through it another month and then decide whether it is worth continuing.

    Good luck and keep us posted!


    • Thanks for the comment, Mark. I’ve been interested in Crossfit except for two things: I don’t like the “man this is the only way to be truly fit” attitude of many participants and I prefer slow and steady strength exercises mixed with some explosive movements, as opposed to things like how they seem to do their pull-ups with insane kipping. That becomes a coordination test more than a strength test.

      Keep it up and let me know how it goes. =)

      Work smart and work strong,

      New John

  2. I figure working out, some combination of strength training and cardio-respiratory exercise is mandatory for maintaining a base level of health, to say nothing of performance.

    IIRC you were mostly\entirely doing bodyweight workouts plus running. This is stuff you can do at home, or anywhere, it produces both aesthetic and performance and longer term health benefits, so really I’d ask…why NOT do it?

    You say you are not sure you can both continue to cut down to 185 and workout at the same time but I’m not clear on why. My speculative guess however would be the willpower and mental energy required to do both.

    My suggestion would be to pick 3-6 bodyweight workouts you enjoyed and just do each of them once a week and not think too much about it, not try to progress them too much, and be willing to cut them down substantially (but still DO them) whenever required. You could even move it up to a daily bout of exercise which allows for shorter workouts.


    A some point during the day (I like first thing in the morning but you have kids\family which might make that less workable) do 3 max rep sets of pushups. Doesn’t have to be all at once, and “max” can mean “however many I feel like doing today”. You can do the same with squats and some core movement. So wake up, do two max sets of squats before showering and getting on with the day. Do another set of squats and 3 sets of max pushups in the 10 minutes just prior to dinner. Do some situps prior to lunch.

    Go for A run once a week whenever you happen to feel that it’d be easy\fun.

    Or whatever. This allows you to keep your focus on the dieting\cutting but begin to add back in strength work and I figure 2 hours of Ultimate is probably more than sufficient for “enough” cardio\aerobic stuff.

    I’ve noticed over time that strength work is more accumulative\adaptive than anything. You do it until you accumulate a certain adaptation and then you continue doing it, no changes required, and you maintain that adaptation. The more you do it the easier it is, both habitually and physically, and then…that’s it.

    Starting the day with one set each max reps squats and pushups assuming you can hit 30 of each is 210 every week. That’s probably “enough” and a very minimal time commitment. And once you’ve gone that for 2-3 months it’ll be real easy to add a second set, even an ‘easy’ second set composed of half the reps of the first set. If are in a rush one day…just do 10 of each. That’s 30 seconds of work maybe. Build the habit like that and you’ll at least build\maintain some capacity which will make it easier to get back to a more serious or formal program when\if you desire.

    If you did 2 workouts a week of 5 sets of each exercise and hit 20 reps per set you’re 200 reps of each, if you do 30 a day…samey-same. One requires finding time and getting prepped for the mental effort of “working out” and all of this, the other one is almost over before it’s done and requires 1-5 minutes, no serious mental effort, no feeling like you’ve ‘earned’ extra food\cheat day of whatever, and yet the benefits should, over time, be nearly identical.

    Definitely I think daily exercise is a great idea for all kinds of reasons. Doesn’t have to be much, doesn’t have to be structured, just…move a little bit. Right?

    • Thanks for the detailed reply, Jonas. I’m still thinking it through and will respond soon. Heck, you may even earn your own “post with reply.”

      Work smart and work strong,

      New John

        • Hold off for now, Jonas, but keep your powder dry. I’m interested in hearing your thoughts, but I’m still working on a reply to your first one. Life’s just been busy and I haven’t been able to give it the attention it deserves.

          Work smart and work strong,

          New John

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