Diet: Practice – Success & Failure (The End)

Want to know how to succeed at weight-loss?  Want to know how to make the pounds shed away without ever coming back?  How to conquer that evil, delicious looking cookie?  Want to know how to never fail at losing weight?  Well . . .

It’s Inevitable.

Sorry, but it is.  Someday, the cookie will win, and you’ll find yourself breaking your diet and overeating.  If you’re trying to lose the weight without the assistance of a personal trainer, odds are you are going to a) lose motivation; b) lose the energy; c) get fed up with the restricted diet; or d) all of the above, plus a pie and a few hours of crying into it.

Incidentally, you can make pie with tears already baked inside.

I don’t want to discourage you, but it’s important that you get used to the idea that you’re going to fail a hell of a lot more than you succeed.  To say something like, “Failure is not an option,” or, “I can’t fail,” is unrealistic because it’s not just about weight, it’s about how your mind and body work, two things that are not easy to alter.  Saying those things doesn’t set you up to lose (because, again, it’s going to happen anyway), but it does make losing detrimental and puts a lot of pressure on you.  If you hinge your entire success and emotional stability on a single meal, you are asking to be toyed with.

ADVICE – PLAN A DAY OFF.  Give yourself a day, an entire day, where you don’t follow the diet.  I’m not talking about short-changing yourself (“I can eat one small slice of low-calorie, carb-free, cheesless pizza”) nor eating as much junk food as you can (“I’ll have fourteen pizzas, cheesy sticks, buffalo wings and 2 liters of Dr. Pepper”).  I’m talking about planning a day where you don’t have to plan every single thing you eat.  Healthy, unhealthy, give yourself the option of both.  Will this set you back a little?  Yes, but we’re in this for the long haul anyway, and while one day of bad eating can ruin a week’s worth of eating right, no damage is irreversible.

It’s Inevitable That You Will Break Your Plan.

You know why?  Because this isn’t some magical fairytale island where the monkey butlers serve low-fat banana daiquiris that get you really fucked up but you’re always good to drive, which doesn’t matter because the island has no roads, just a pristine river that runs through the entire island that no one ever pees in, and it ends in a waterslide where baby hippos and really cute puppies dance and serve you lasagna, and everything is perfect everywhere all the time.  This is life, and it’ll happen to you no matter what you got going on.

There is going to be a birthday party at your work where they serve cake, or your friends are suddenly going to some concert you’re invited to and hit up a few bars after, or some of your family is in town and you want to show them a good time; there are many things that can happen to you in the course of the day that can screw up your diet and you can’t always plan for them.

ADVICE – SUPPORTIVE FRIENDS.  This is where asking for a little help can be good.  Having the support of the people around you can make those hard times of temptation a tiny bit easier.  I’m not saying they have to be hard on you or act like a coach . . . and in fact, kick them in the nuts if they do.  It’s your job to be hard on yourself, not theirs.  Most of their support should come in the form of simple encouragement (e.g. – You can do it!  Don’t give up now!) Or better yet silence.  When saying, “I’m on a diet,” some of my friends will reply with unending scorn, ridicule, and claims that I must have lost my balls somewhere because I’m clearly a woman.

Which is hard to refute sometimes.

A friend noticing that all you’re getting is a small salad and a club soda and says nothing is sometimes the greatest gift of all.  For the others, learn to go deaf and let the jeers roll away.  Or start planning to slash their tires.  Whatever works for you.  Just don’t be one of those people who says, “OH, I’M ON A DIET,” every time you sit down to a meal with others.  This is just a gigantic plead for attention, and tantamount to that guy at house parties who brings a guitar in the hopes someone will ask about it and give him a chance to play a shitty Bush cover.  Only say that you’re on a diet when asked, and sometimes not even then.

They will not help you get laid, or help you lose weight.

It’s Inevitable That You Will Break Your Plan and Give Into Temptation.

At some point, you’ll probably give into temptation.  The cookie will look too good, or the jeering of your friends will win out, or the smell of bacon wafting through the air will be so delicious that you’ll break into your neighbor’s kitchen by jumping through the window just to get some.

“Hey Bob, is that bacon you’re having for breakfast?”

Frankly, I think this is a good thing.  Despite all that I have said on the issue, I don’t want you to stop living and having fun.  I don’t want your life to be about plain and boring food.  Food is about nourishment, but it’s also about life and love and pleasure, and sometimes it’s better for you to just let go and see where the wind takes you.  If we learned anything from The Shining, all work and no play makes Jack go and ruin another’s creative work while simultaneously creating a cornerstone of American cinema.

I got a bunch of hits on one post because I featured a picture of Jack Nicholson.

ADVICE – Compensate BY Working Out.  I know I spent a lot of time going on and on about how you should be exercising more for your heart and organs than your waist (you totally should), but all I’m thinking about when I work out is what I ate the day before.  I imagine that the food I ate is a giant ice cube, and every step I take, every drop I sweat, every pant I heave is just a fire melting away at all the crap I shoved into my mouth.  If I ate well and healthy the day before, then I’m even more enthusiastic because instead of working away the ice cube of yester-food, I’m melting away the ice cube of my fat content.

See above.

However, don’t eat more than you should because you tell yourself you’re going to work out harder tomorrow.  We’re trying to break bad habits here, not reinforce them.  Use this method with “Repairing the Damage” in mind instead of “I’ll Figure It Out Tomorrow.”  And don’t compensate for what you eat today by not eating anything tomorrow.  Starvation is an epidemic, not a weight-loss plan.

It’s Inevitable That You Will Break Your Plan, Give Into Temptation, and Not Compensate For It.

You may have an injury, be really hung over, or run out of time.  Sometimes you just don’t put on those sneakers.  We will always need to eat, but we don’t always need to work out, and sometimes getting off the couch is just too damn hard.

“You rack disciprine!”

ADVICE – EVERY DAY IS A NEW DAY.  Think of every day as the first day of your diet.  When you completely screw the pooch (eat a lot and don’t exercise it off), you haven’t completely failed – you just get to start again tomorrow because that’s what you were going to do anyway.  Don’t let your entire weight-loss plan go to shit just because you spent a day to a week not doing what you were supposed to.  If you see success as going through the entire span of the plan without any hiccups and errors, you’re crazy.  Instead, let your plan reset every single time.  It will take all the pressure off of having to constantly do everything right which can make your overall outlook more positive, and that will make staying on your plan much, much easier.

It’s Inevitable That You Will Break Your Plan, Give Into Temptation, Not Compensate For It, and Continue To Do So . . . and It’s OKAY.

So you have stopped eating right and working out all together.  But you know what?  That’s all right.  Seriously, I mean it.  Fear of failing is one of the Fat-Voice’s biggest weapons.  It can make you give up after only one attempt at losing weight and dash your self-confidence to dust.  Even worse, it can make you never even try.  But think of this?  Do people learn to play the guitar in a single try?  How about how to ride a bike?  Or how to do their taxes?  Weight-loss is exactly the same as these.

People think that losing weight is simply about following the formula and voila!  But it’s not; not for you and not for me.  For us, it’s about learning, and one learns by doing something, failing, and then doing it again.  I have been fighting my weight for the past ten years (and continue to do so) and most of that time was getting over my fear of failing and learning I’m going to fail a whole bunch of times before I get it right.  That I have to fail so I know what is right.  When I finally got that, that failure is not an option but a requirement, is when I gave myself a break and started losing weight.

Failing is not the end of the world and it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep trying.  Take a look at your meal plan and find what was working against you.  Take a look at your schedule and see if exercising at a different time would be better.  Switch things up.  Think of it all as a puzzle, with every part of the plan as a piece, and that failing just means that one piece is misplaced.  My advice is to give yourself a break and keep going.  The Fat-Voice is something that isn’t beaten once – you have to beat it over and over and over again.  And each of those times, you’re not failing, you are in the process of succeeding.

And thus we come to the end.  We’ve shared a few laughs, cried a few tears, slapped each other around a few times, and had to strangle that bear so we could use its fur for warmth that one time when we got lost on that mountain for 27 days while hiking (note – some of that may not have happened).  While this is not everything I know about nutrition, exercise and weight-loss, it should be enough to help you start on your own journey.  And this entire time I have been talking about weight-loss is time that I haven’t spent doing it, and I’d like to take another go at a new plan to see what else I can learn.

If you have any questions, objections, or want to share your own story, please leave a comment.  Hearing what other people have learned is very encouraging to all parties, I think, and I want to help in every way I can.  But most importantly, remember that if you are struggling with your weight, or are going to struggle, you’re not alone.  Even if you do it all by yourself, there is a league of former fat people behind you, me included, cheering you on.  We want to you to be healthy and happy.  You are never alone.

Diet: Exercise – Anaerobic Exercise

No, I didn’t misspell aerobic; YOU misread.  Maybe you need some new glasses.

If you can't tell what this is, go see your optician.

While aerobic exercise gets its energy from a mixture of glucose and oxygen, anaerobic exercise says a big, “FUCK YOU,” to oxygen and gets its energy from only the glucose in your body. This makes sense since the word anaerobic (first coined in the 1880’s) means “in the absence of oxygen”.  Now this doesn’t mean anaerobic exercises are done without breathing; that’s as silly as it is extremely lethal.  All it means is that your body is not using the oxygen you are breathing in to trigger glycosis, which is the metabolic process that converts glucose, sucrose and other chemicals from the –crose family, into energy.

Through something called anaerobic metabolism (what clever names these scientists give these things), your body accesses energy stores that are only found hiding in your muscles.  The amount of oomph anaerobic metabolism creates is enough to help you punch a charging rhino into next week.

Accurate depiction.

So if it burns more fat and creates such high amounts of energy, why don’t we just tell aerobic exercise to screw off and simply do anaerobic exercises?  Well, let’s take a look at that heartrate chart I showed way back when I still felt blogging everyday was going to be fucking easy.

See where anaerobic exercise falls on our chart?  See how it’s labeled “Hardcore Training”?  That isn’t a bullshit title, it really is hardcore.  Anaerobic metabolism is only set off when you start driving your body with more intensity than aerobic exercise requires.  Aerobic exercise is about longevity; it’s about running a marathon at a comfortable pace so that your body doesn’t give out long before the end.  Aerobics is the normal, hardworking Joe of exercise.

Anaerobic exercise, on the other hand, is the total badass of exercise; it comes in wearing a leather jacket, drop kicks a cop off of a cliff, has relations with every woman in the room, and then paints a mural of Bruce Lee by spitting Bacardi 151 on the wall and then lighting it on fire.  But if you have ever been that person at a party, you understand that unless you are fueled by some outside source (cocaine), you simply can’t live your entire life at that break-neck pace.  While the fuel that anaerobics draw from creates high-octane energy, you have a very limited supply of that fuel.  While a person can continue to do aerobic exercise long past forty minutes, the human body can only keep up anaerobic exercise for about five minutes.

This is partly because anaerobic exercise creates a build up of lactic acid.  Lactic acid is a byproduct of glycosis and other metabolic functions, and it is normally released or reprocessed by the oxygen you consume.  Anaerobic exercise doesn’t use oxygen though, and the lactic acid that is produced during these exercises just sort of hangs out in the blood stream until your body starts using oxygen normally again.  While raising the acidity of your blood seems awesome because you take one step closer to being like the xenomorph in Alien –

"Yeah, I've been working out."

– it can also lead to acidosis, which, if we all remember A Few Good Men, can lead to all sort of problems.

Problem #1 - I make Jack Nicholson angry.

Acidosis can cause a number of physical maladies: Shortness of breath, coughing, headaches, dizziness, weakness, muscle failure, seizures, vomiting and diarrhea.  While the medical studies have shown that a build up of lactic acid is not the primary cause of acidosis (link), it is a factor.  The human body was simply not designed to maintain such a high energy output for a prolonged period of time.

Having said that, anaerobic exercise is a great way to lose weight.  It burns through stored glucose (e.g. fat) faster than aerobic exercise, and recovering from a build up of lactic acid makes your muscles stronger.  What exercises are considered anaerobic?  Any intense exercise that you can only keep up for a few minutes; sprinting, biking up a steep hill, maxing out while lifting weights (lifting the heaviest weight you can without injuring yourself), climbing up a stair case at a brisk pace with 50 lbs. strapped to your back.  If there was a scale that measured how hard you work, with laying on the ground at 0% and running from a deranged, chainsaw wielding killer at 100%, anaerobic exercise would be at about an 80%. 

And the good news is that you don’t have to do just one type of exercise in a single workout!  While jogging at your normal pace (aerobic exercise), you can start sprinting (anaerobic exercise) and after 30 seconds to a minute you can return to your normal pace.  Then after five to ten minutes later you start sprinting again.  This cycle is called interval training, and if you are serious about losing weight you will want to work it into almost every exercise routine.  Doing short bursts of anaerobic activity will get your heart rate way up and your body will burn through more fat, and the aerobic exercise will give your body time to recover by letting your body process the lactic acid and returning your heart rate to normal.  Because you are only doing the anaerobic exercise for a short period of time, you won’t work yourself into exhaustion, and you’ll still be burning fat during the aerobic exercise. And because almost every exercise can be modified to be anaerobic, interval training is easy to insert into any work out.  It’s a win-win situation.

The picture at the beginning was of a goat standing on a cow, by the way.