Easy on, easy off… (reassessment)

Lately I’ve been feeling pretty invincible.  I’d been allowing myself quite a few treats and still had weeks of consecutive loss  (Christmas aside).  Anyway, I guess I’ve learned that there is a limit.  I had a gym reassessment a few days ago and weighed in a whopping 1.5kg (3lbs) heavier than last week.  Murphy’s law, right? Gaining weight the one time someone else is watching.  At first I was shocked and asked if we could do it again.  Then shock turned to disappointment as my weigh was confirmed.

Thinking back, I had had a pretty bad week.  My depression has been pretty bad lately; I felt sluggish all week and had a couple of massive binges. Guess I need to find other coping mechanisms…  but when I get that low I just stop caring.  Aaaargh.  Anyway this isn’t that kind of blog so moving on…

The good news is that that weigh in motivated me to workout harder and eat better the next few days, and I was able to get back to where I was in 4 days.  Funny – I lost that weight so fast that the website where I track my weight had to confirm I hadn’t mistyped.   So yep, just a small blip on the weight graph.

Image 1

Interestingly, my trainer said I’d lost muscle mass.  Despite starting weight training a few months ago.  I’m not sure how accurate those scales are at determining that kind of thing anyway. How accurate can sending a minor electronic pulse through my body be?  My body fat percentage is 24%, which according to Wikipedia is on the high side of average.  Ideally I’d like to get it below 15%.

And with that my trainer and I discussed what I wanted to focus on (continued weight loss).  She says she’ll increase my reps with weights and step up my cardio days.  I’ll post my new program soon.

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Cortisol vs. endorphins

More weight loss for me recorded today :)  A few days ago I was 94.4kg and today I’m 93.7kg. That means I’m almost under 200 pounds. I just seem to love getting on the scales lately.  And I find converting the amount to pounds, or calculating my new BMI (28.6) adds to my enjoyment of the results.

Today I want to post about cortisol. My understanding is pretty basic; it’s the chemical in your body that is produced when you worry, stress or are anxious. I am usually a pretty anxious person – especially in social situations – so it’s fair to say that I would often have a lot of cortisol in my system.  And this isn’t good for the body.

When you exercise you release endorphins – the feel good chemicals that make you more relaxed and carefree.

imagesNow this is probably an incredibly lame, over-simplified analogy but let’s think about it like Pacman.  We go about our lives with anxiety (ghosts) chasing us.  So what’s the answer?  Exercise (the corner pellets).  When we do good feelings are released, we become more powerful over the anxiety (ghosts), and with our new endorphins we have the power to reduce or eliminate it (them)!

Lame analogy aside, this is what happens to me.  When I walk into the gym, I usually feel anxious.  If I have to walk past one of the trainers, I might meekly say hi but I don’t have the confidence to stay around and talk.  After my workout, though, it’s a completely different story.  I’m quite happy standing around at the desk talking with them.

I wish I could have that feeling all the time…  but I think in general I am a bit more relaxed these days because of the exercise.  They say that joining a gym improves your confidence.  Well, I don’t think it’s just because you look better.  I think it really does make you feel better;  I think it’s great for your biochemistry.  And I think people underestimate how our biochemistry affects our moods.  If you’ve never experienced depression or anxiety, I guess you haven’t needed to think about it.

My sleeping pattern sucks at the moment and I’m sleeping past noon, but tomorrow I’m determined to go to circuit training at the gym at noon.  Wish me luck (getting up!)

Introduction

Name:  Geoff
Age:  27
Location:  Palmerston North, New Zealand
Height:  181cm
Starting weight:  114kg
Current weight:  99kg

Welcome to my fitness journal.  My primary motivation for losing weight and getting fit is to get on top of my depression – something I’ve experienced since I was 17.  However, it’s only been this past year that I have started to take exercise and looking after myself seriously.

The highest weight I’ve ever recorded was 114kg in November 2010.  At this time I was struggling with depression very much, ate insane amounts of junk food (lots of coke, chocolate, potato chips and fish&chips for dinner or lunch almost every day) and got very little exercise (if walking to the shops to buy more junk food counts!).

I hated the way I felt and looked; I was always breathing heavily, felt sluggish and I started to get heart palpitations and chest pains, usually after I’d eaten fish and chips.  This started to really concern me, and after seeing a doctor I discovered my blood pressure was alarmingly high for someone my age.  We monitored it for a few months but eventually I had to be put on blood pressure medication

My doctor prescribed me a green prescription which was introductory gym classes and lessons on healthy eating etc.  The best part about it was after the course had finished, I was able to join a great gym at a discounted rate.

I found the gym very hard at first and although I knew I wanted to lose weight, I really struggled with motivation.  I decided it would be easier (and less embarrassing) at first to workout at home on my Nintendo Wii  (EA Sports Active 1&2, Wii Fit Plus, etc).  I had some success with this, but it was very on/off.  Though I had joined a gym with the best of intentions, I hardly went in the first 6 months.

It was in June this year  (6 months ago) I started taking an antidepressant medication that changed my life.  I had already tried 5 different medications in the past, which were no help whatsoever, so I was completely stoked that this one started to work almost immediately.  It was like I was taking speed (I imagine); I was suddenly motivated and had lots of energy.

I started going to the gym 5 mornings a week and I no longer craved all the junk food I had been eating.  Seriously, I just didn’t need it any more.  I was amazed at how much this drug helped, and I felt somewhat validated; after years of low self esteem and self-doubt, this drug proved that I had a chemical imbalance that had been making my life extremely difficult.  And now I was able to manage that.

As you can see from the graph above, the weight started coming off immediately. Faster at first, but still at an okay rate today.  I’ve lost 15kg since this time last year, but most of it in the last 6 months.

This is only the beginning.  I want to go a lot further with this.

So much happens in a weight loss journey, and there are many aspects to consider.  I’ve started this blog so I can keep track of my progress and process all my thoughts to stay on top of things.  I hope it will keep me motivated to succeed.

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