The green eyed diet monster catches everyone in the end
Mondays in particular are when most gyms are running at near max capacity. If it’s not international ‘chest day’, it’s the day to rescue a weekend of ‘fun’ with a MASSIVE rebound session. Pass me the beer, wine, pizza and fries……..load me up! It’s ok, I’ll work it all off on Monday. We’ll have a killer gym ‘sesh’.
A hamster wheel is born.
You go round and round, trying to negate a weekend’s worth of damage in as short a timespan as possible. You’re now obligated or even contracted (in your conscience) to ignore the laws of sensible training volume (1 hour maximum) and start doing 3 hour marathons that could only earn you possible brownie points on Facebook and Instagram.
While your stories of ‘beastmode’ may provide potential content on social media, they’re not getting you a prestigious key to freedom from the hamster wheel you’re on. Depending on how wild your weekends get, you may not even be breaking even. You could actually be worsening your body composition with this ‘approach’.
Simply because precious little of that 3 hours is actually spent in a state of promoting positive adaptation. If we make allocations for the texting (10 mins at least), overall socialising (30 mins at least), junk volume/working without full mental awareness (45 mins to an hour), this brings us back to the traditional time-frame of an hour or a little more.
Adaptation plays a pivotal role.
Theoretically you could do fairly low intensity cardio (aerobics) for up to 3 hours, it wouldn’t be fun, but it could be done. BUT, this is incredibly short lived as the body adapts to slow cardio remarkably well. I’ve discussed this previously and have personal experience to facilitate my thinking.
(Related: ‘Toning’ – a viable goal or mythical term?)
So eventually, your 3 hours will have to be 4 hours and so on. Before you know it, the gym closes long before you can get everything you ‘need’ done. And most gyms just don’t have enough classes on the timetable for you to jump into.
Doing it right –
You may get away with this for a while; calling on a Monday marathon to save the carnage you self inflict at the weekend, but the hands of time are merciless and catch us all. Our metabolism is always individual, but universally age slows everybody’s metabolism. It really isn’t a question of if, but when – for 99% of people. This is where the diminishing returns factor weighs in. You just can’t do the volume of activity required to compensate for the metabolism drop off that’s hinting at you to face the inevitable: your eating habits.
There are cases where people can literally NEVER gain appreciable fat regardless. But these are the skinniest of the skinniest, toothpick people.
Even then, nobody can predict the future, yet anyway. We just don’t know how age will affect us specifically. Our model above could end up with a nice beer gut and an extra chin in 20-40 years time. I have an uncle who was that guy; can’t gain weight, eats anything he wants and in any quantity, yet the scale never moves. Take it forward to the present and he now has an impressive lard pad covering his abdominals and his chin can now hide his neck. In his mid fifties, the green eyed diet monster has caught him.
It catches us all. I had to accept responsibility for my lifestyle very young compared to some. We all have limited reserves of abuse tolerance. Poor dietary habits show up physically, which translates mentally and the mental impact taxes you emotionally. The whole thing works full circle.
This is no excuse to just accept defeat. Maturation (a better word than ‘age’), can be offset by learning to like higher satiation foods, vowing to sit no longer than 3 minutes a a time and walking to the shops instead of driving your car to the store at the end of your street every time you need something.
It also took me far too long to finally hand over my investment money into the less is more concept. With mounting practical experience though, less really is more.
Weekends are just another day, they’re not a free-for-all. I understand life should be fun, but if you learn to detach food, drink and fun a little more, you’ll maybe………just maybe be able to lift your sentence and get off the hamster wheel.
Gyms aren’t social clubs. I LOVE interacting with everyone as much as possible, but there are other places on this beautiful planet we call home in which to socialise.
The gym is ultimately a place of physical and spiritual evolution. The social side is just a bonus.
JR @ Straight-Talking-Fitness View All
The 'brains' behind StraightTalkingFitness, a site all about discovery that leads to strength in all formats; fitness, mental, emotional and spiritual. Everything starts from within and projects outwards. Master the body, master anything and everything.
When you wrote:
I imagined someone having beer, wine, pizza, and fries at the gym while telling his workout partner to load up the barbell for him. 😀
Actually, I saw a guy bring a Starbucks coffee into the weight room this morning. He spent more time messing around with his mobile and talking to his buddy than he did actually exercising. Hey, I’ll spend a few minutes talking to people at the gym sometimes, but it’s rude to hog a weight machine for ten minutes or more by siting in it just talking rather than exercising.
I agree that food, how much of it and what type we consume, is a huge contributor to our overall health and goals. I’m not super strict about what I eat (just polished off eight Ling Ling’s chicken pot stickers for lunch), but I do record just about everything that goes in my mouth, not so much because I’m counting calories, but just to be aware of how much and how fast things can add up.
Especially at my age (I’ll be 61 in about three weeks), if I make a mistake with food or injure myself when lifting, it’s a lot harder to recover than it was when I was back in my 40s or younger.
Normally, I’d agree that an hour at the gym is plenty, but since I’m doing a strength training routine, rest between heavy sets is just as important as the actual lifting. Since I have the day off of work, I let myself rest as much as I needed between sets, and then after an hour in the weight room, I topped things off with 25 minutes of cardio (which includes a 5 minute cooldown).
The longest duration I’ve done for cardio ever (in recent memory, anyway) is an hour and that’s way too much. Even my usual 40 minute cardio sessions three days a week are pushing it, but I only have those three days to get a minimum of 2 hours of cumulative cardio time in. The other three days are dedicated to the weight room, and Sunday is for overall body rest.
In spite of what the marathon and triathlete people may think, human beings weren’t meant to be long distance runners.
Yeah, the gym has a spiritual side for me, too. It reminds me that it takes discipline to improve both the body and the spirit within.
Thanks for your insights once again! Starbucks huh? I’ve not seen that myself……….yet anyway. But I’ve seen sights to rival it. I swear people do it just so those that know them see them spend SO much time in the gym, and subsequently inform others hat a beast they are. That thinking is flawed ultimately though, as their lack of physical transformation will put a big fat full stop to those tales! Haha 🙂
Never a truer statement uttered about the long distance running, totally agree. I’ve had my own ‘fun’ with excessive running and only ended up smaller, weaker and with joint pain. You’ve got a pretty solid schedule there. You’re cutting right? Counting calories isn’t fun, but I find it works, or at least tracking SOMETHING is what I always preach. I myself can only cut with cardio, I’m not one of those people who can eat 1200 calories a day and skip out on the cardio. Appetite is far too big 🙁
61 soon huh? Very nice to see you killing it at your age still! Wish my dad shared the same enthusiasm (or wisdom) you do! Have you any spectacular plans for your birthday this year?
Actually, I already got my combination Father’s Day/Birthday gift, a Traeger electric smoker. I’ll probably get the fancy dinner of my choice on my actual birthday since both my wife and daughter are “foodies”. Maybe I’ll ask for mu shu duck again this year. It’s to die for.
I don’t severely restrict my calories, I just aim for a small deficit each day and hope for the best. My weight graph over time is a really jagged line, but fortunately, the slope is generally downward. I’ve got about 7 or 8 pounds to go before I hit my target weight, then I’ll reassess and see what further adjustments I need to make.
I wish I could convince my wife to lift. She goes for walks, but at her age, getting her hormones to balance is something of a chore. She’s also got an artificial hip, so I’m sure that would affect what sort of lifts she could perform, and certainly the weights involved.
At the gym this morning, I added extra warm up sets because I had the time, and also for barbell hack squats and barbell bent over rows, I tossed in an extra set after my five working sets at an increased weight, just for giggles.
My knees are complaining a little right now because of that, so I’m glad I’m headed into a couple of rest days. I enjoy challenging myself, but reigning in my ego is proving to be a little difficult. I’ll take the soreness as a warning.
Are you not a foodie too? Haha. I kinda am. Although I have to be so anal about what I ingest because I have a HUGE appetite, but the kicker is I can gain weight easy as hell too.
Yeah, you’ve mentioned your trials and tribulations regarding getting your other half into the lifting game. I know how tough it is to do that, you may have to brush up on your salesman skills. I still think the best way to sell the concept to anyone is to show them genuine testimonials (such as your own transformation/results).
I’ve finally begun to embrace rest days with open arms. It’s taken ages though, I’ve done all kinds of stupid things; taking squats regularly to the point of failure (dropping the bar behind me) and training 7 days per week for months at a time. All I got was achy joints and minimal progress, even a heavy drug user would struggle with what I was doing. So foolish.
Those rest days will do you plenty of good. Soreness is rare for me nowadays, it’s only really all out 100 metre sprints that trigger it in me. And that’s only when I’ve not done them regularly enough.
I like food and love to eat, but I can’t cook beyond the basics. My wife worked in a commercial kitchen for many years but even now, my daughter has surpassed her mother’s skills. They make some fantastic dishes.
Oh, and when I was 16 years old, I was 6’3″ tall and weighed 160 pounds. Thin as a rail. At age 19, I ballooned up and have ridden the weight roller coaster ride ever since.
I can attest to the truth of what you write. I was one of those skinniest of skinny guys. 6′ tall, 150 pounds at 22 years old. At 32 I was 195 and wondering where that double-chin came from. I went about fixing it with running, and now cycling and it works for me. It takes a little bit of discipline – not eating a whole pizza just because I can stuff it in my face and it tastes good. At 200 miles a week, heck at 150 miles a week, I get quite a bit of leeway but I’m no Michael Phelps.
You know, the tough decisions.
Great post, man.
That caught up with you quite quick then? Seems like 25 is that age where if your lifestyle habits aren’t sufficient, you start ageing quicker. 200 miles per week is a tidy sum! The weather for biking is BEAUTIFUL at the moment.
Michael Phelps……..hahaha, he’s a 12000 calorie a day man isn’t he? I could eat those kind of numbers……….seriously, but only if I take my diet leash off. Oh and I’d gain all kinds of fat! Massive appetite I have.
Thanks for your comment, it’s really appreciated man! 🙂
Another fantastic post. Ah yes, eating….. I’ve never been very big and am classed as a ‘hard gainer,’ which for some people, would be wonderful. I’ve changed my diet hugely over the last year or so. I cannot eat gluten or yeast and cruciferous vegetables. I have to eat regularly or I feel desperately ill, dizzy and nauseous, or at least I did, until I changed what I ate. I eat cleanly and I eat probably 4 meals a day and 2 shakes with as much in as I can squeeze. I don’t count calories, weigh my food or measure anything. I’m aware that I need to eat more in order to make lean gains but it’s a slow process and not always an enjoyable one. There are times when I just don’t want to eat but know that I have to do so… it’s like chewing cardboard.
I’m almost twice 25 (sounds better that way, I think) and I feel I do very well for my age. Nothing happens over night and so I will continue to play around until I can get the balance just right.
Thanks for the input. How comes you cannot tolerate cruciferous vegetables? That’s interesting. Gluten and yeast are common intolerances, but cruciferous vegetables don’t tend to be as traditionally irritating.
Do you not enjoy eating in general? That’s the total opposite to me. I can out eat guys twice my size (and have done). I love my food, haha. I’ve put back over 3,000 calories in ONE MEAL before, seriously.
They cause havoc in my gut. Fine if I’m alone but otherwise, most anti-social and cripplingly painful.
I love eating….I love food. Just that now I’m eating more, I feel like my life revolves around food and there’s not much of a gap between meals. It will balance itself out.