Friday, January 27, 2012

Sickness derails fitness: NEWS AT ELEVEN

Ah, January 16. I remember it well. As readers of this blog may recall, I worked out harder than I had in years. I warmed up with 20 minutes on the recumbent bike, then did an intense upper body workout, and THEN did a bunch of running on the treadmill. I got the speed up to 8 mph at one point. I felt exhausted, and amazing.

But there's something I neglected to mention in my last post. You see, while I was running I felt great, but right afterward, I felt a tightness in my chest. It wasn't a heart attack or anything, but it did feel kind of hard to breathe. I've never really had asthma, but it felt kind of like what I thought asthma might feel like. I came home and Googled "exercise-induced asthma." Such a thing exists, so I chalked it up to that, and vowed to take it a little bit easier in the future.

Then, calamity: Over the next week, I got very sick. My main symptoms? Fatigue... and chest congestion. It turns out that while I was KILLING myself at the gym, my body was also trying to fight off a bug that has been going around DC, and which has cleared all the DC-area drug stores of every formulation of Mucinex. By working out so hard, I inadvertently compromised my immune system.

I fell off the wagon. I couldn't exercise, and because I was sick, I decided it was okay to treat myself with some of the foods I love.

When you go to the gym every day, and exercise hard, and eat well, you build up a momentum and it is easy to keep it going. You always have energy and you WANT to exercise! You WANT to eat nutritious foods! You just naturally want to build on success. Your body has no desire to consume pizza and donuts, because it will just make it harder to exercise, and it will undo the very real gains you are making at the gym.

The flip side is also true. Once you fall off the wagon, it's really hard to get back on. The momentum is lost. It sucks, and it's hard to get started again.

And I don't even want to think about how much pizza I've eaten over the last week. And donuts. Ohhh the donuts.

I know what happened, I know what I did wrong, and in the future if I feel myself coming down with something, I will take it really easy until I know I'm in the clear. I've had almost two weeks off, and my diet has been horrible, and the scale reflects that. Now it's time to get back on the wagon. It will be hard for a few days...

But then it will be easy again.

1 comment:

  1. "I couldn't exercise, and because I was sick, I decided it was okay to treat myself with some of the foods I love."

    Did you hear that big thud when my head hit my keyboard? :-) I realize you've already learned many valuable lessons here, but a few to add to the list:

    - Foods you love should be a part of your everyday lean existence, not something you take away to lose weight and put back as a reward/punishment.

    - Portion control rules. You can't gain weight if you don't overeat, no matter what kind of deluxe pizza it is, or how premium the ice cream, or how bready the bread.

    - Eat reasonably and it doesn't matter how much or if you exercise. Exercise is great for you, but it's not necessary for fat loss. Food is the WHOLE deal. Consider how easy it is to eat an extra 800 calories versus the grueling effort it takes to burn that on a treadmill.

    - Overdoing exercise will leave you tired, sick, injured, fat, and hungrier than ever. It took me decades to realize that. Lately, I workout for 5-15 minutes, 3-5 days a week. Basic stuff: push-ups, pull-ups, squats, deadlifts, kettlebell swings.

    - Being consistent for a long time delivers better results than being extreme for a short time. Whatever your routine, it has to be enjoyable and sustainable. If it sucks, you'll always go back to inactivity and overeating comfort food.

    That's all. This message is brought to you by the letters C V B N, which are now imprinted backward on my face. :-)