How do you measure fitness?
Sometimes I go a month without stepping on a scale. I think it’s better to avoid the scale, especially when you’re trying to lose fat and add muscle.
There are better ways to check your progress. I check my body fat with a caliper; it’s quick and not likely to mislead you the way the scale can. There is a body fat caliper article in my library, just click the “view” link under my photo above.
There is also the image in your head of how you want to look, and how your clothes fit, the size of your arms or legs, or whatever you’re wanting to change.
And, of course, how you feel is so important. Any time I look or feel badly, I can almost always trace it back to my diet.
When you are exercising and losing fat, your scale can be misleading because as you add muscle your weight can stay level even though you’re losing fat.
The 80 / 20 fitness rule
Eating and sleeping accounts for about 80 percent of how you look and feel. The other 20 percent is your exercise.
Those numbers might seem wrong, but you’ll discover that you can workout religiously, but sabotage your results with bad nutrition.
When I overdose on junk food, I wake up the next morning looking like a raccoon the way my eyes are all puffed up, and I feel like I’ve been drugged. The later in the day I junk out, the worse I am the next morning. And when I eat junk food in the evening, I almost always wake up in the middle of the night craving more junk food. And then I usually oversleep.
For the umpteenth time I just referenced how food affects how we look and feel.
Our physiques are continuously getting better or worse based on what we do to them. Keep the 80 / 20 rule in mind when you see people at the gym who seem to workout very hard, but look soft and puffy like marshmallows.
I love sugar
I love everything about it except how it makes me look and feel. Other than that it’s great.
Almost every night I wake up about two a.m. and eat something. I’m so used to eating every couple hours that my body wants to be fed even when I’m sleeping. I’ve become a believer in listening to my body, and so I usually do what it tells me.
That includes when it keeps telling me several days in a row that it wants junk food. I usually hold off until I’m sure I wasn’t misreading the craving, and then I’ll give it what it wants.
Indulge the entire desire
When I’m going to eat sugar, I don’t mess around. I go all the way with the triple-gooey, full-fat chocolate — not some boring hard candy. I mean, why bother?
I always keep some junk food in my freezer, and I suggest that you do the same.
I’m open to experimenting, and so in recent times I’ve become acquainted with semi-junk food, which is really bad stuff tempered with good or semi-good stuff.
I have the junk food thing pretty much under control in that I can mostly take it or leave it nowadays, and even enjoy postponing the inevitable for days or weeks before I finally indulge.
It’s common for my freezer stash to be there for a month or longer before it gets eaten. Sometimes it’s there until it dehydrates and I throw it out. I had a jar full of M&Ms that were in there so long they started falling apart.
Here’s something you won’t learn in the traditional diet book: Don’t give M&Ms to the squirrels — the sugar hits them like speed and they freak out.
I always restock my freezer stash. There’s a psychological advantage knowing it’s there if I want it.
Here are some of my mid-night junk food snacks.
Ice cream sandwiches
low-fat cottage cheese and corn chips
low-fat, no-sugar butter pecan ice cream mixed in a blender with chocolate protein powder and skim milk. This is exceptional with a shot of vodka. The downside is the bags under my eyes next morning.
- Instant pudding (sugarless) made with skim milk and protein powder.
While the above make me sound like a real junkist, most mid-night snacks are far more tame — oatmeal, chicken, or some protein powder and a couple fig bars.
Watch that first step
I pretty much have no trouble staying away from junk food, but when I’m sure that the craving is actually my body needing something, I submit.
All that having been said, I still I find it easy to slip into the habit of eating junk food day after day. It starts small, and keeps growing. And the really cheap stuff seems to be the most habit forming.
Still stupid after all these years
For 30 years I’ve known that several days of eating sugar gives me muscle and joint pains. And it doesn’t have to be a massive overdose, just a steady trickle of daily doses. For instance, powdered coffee creamer (which I love, and which is loaded with corn syrup sweetener) hits me just like junk food.
The warning signal that the junk food is catching up with me is a pain deep in my middle-right back. If I notice the symptom, but ignore it, after a week or so I begin sliding into an energy slump and start feeling depressed.
It can take two weeks of that before I admit I’m having a problem. And after I cut out the sugar it takes about two more weeks to get back to feeling normal.
I do not like admitting that I do stuff like that, but it might help someone else get a grip on just how badly junk food can affect us.
My junk food reactions are so obvious to me because they affect my energy level. I usually feel like I have enough energy to do anything, and so if that starts to wane it gets my attention. Actually it scares me and reminds me how awful it would be to feel like that all the time.
Anyone who has lived with a terrible diet for a long time has probably felt sub-par for so long they are likely to have forgotten what it’s like to feel good.
My hope is that you will make some changes to your diet and reacquaint yourself with what it’s like to have energy.
You can read more of my articles about sugar by clicking the view link under my photo.
Make sure you have an annual physical. Information presented by Thomas Amshay is for education only and not meant to cure, guide treatment, or take the place of a licensed health practitioner. Consult your health care team before starting any diet, exercise program, or nutritional supplement.