And I am back! I have to say that for a fleeting moment I did wonder if I had, in fact, become more popular through my absence. Or perhaps I was being watched (still am!). There is no way to tell, all I have are dozens of “new view” notifications for my blog page, but regardless, it is gratifying to know that I haven’t been entirely forgotten. I have never felt the need to watch someone, or worry about what is being said about me when I am not listening. I have faith in myself and a clear conscience, and other people’s opinion of me, as hurtful as may be at times, does not alter the way I see myself. I expect the same in return so I am going to assume that I have suddenly been ‘discovered’! So thank you, my new readers, and I hope you will stick around 🙂
But leaving all that aside and sticking with the theme of how I see myself, and as the title and featured image have already given away, this post is about fitness. Yes, fitness, one of the three things I wanted to write about when I decided to reinvent this blog. But back then I did not know where to start. I felt like I was already on a path and it did not make sense to start at some arbitrary point midway. But things are different now. Now I have regressed and am back at the beginning. So as I restart my journey, and hopefully, make it to the end this time, I want to document it, and perhaps help anyone else who would like to travel alongside.
I have been fitness conscious since my early teens but I have never stuck to an exercise routine consistently. Consequently, my body type was always changing as well although I never went to any extremes. I was never really pudgy and I was never skinny either. But then couple of years ago I got pill-induced dysphagia. In simple words, a pill got stuck in my esophagus because I didn’t take it with enough water and caused a lesion leading to difficulty in swallowing. I remember waking up one night with severe pain in my chest. I wondered if I was having a heart attack, didn’t know what else to make of it and frankly, unless you’ve had one, how are you supposed to know what exactly a heart attack pain feels like. I tried drinking some water but the pain spiked as I tried to swallow it. So that was the start. Fast forward to the end of no eating and minimal drinking, and one trip to the ER in between to get an IV of fluids, I had lost 10 lbs in 10 days and at a mere 93 lbs, I was, for the first time ever, skinny.
Eventually, I started working out and eating carefully and gained back the 10 lbs while maintaining the same body fat percentage. It took me close to 18 months to get there, although it wasn’t a continuous process. I had several periods of break in between where I was either not working out consistently, or not eating right, or both. Since August of this year, I haven’t followed a workout routine and was a total pig while I was in India. As a result now I am 110 lbs and 19% body fat. It is not bad, but it is a far cry from the 15% BF athletic body type that I was striving toward. Hence, in a way this is a fresh start and a perfect beginning for this series.
I wish I had better pictures but back then I didn’t know I was going to write this post. Still, if you look closely, my arm looks rather skinny in the first picture, and I am pretty pleased with the way my abdomen looks in the second. If I had continued with my diet and workout plan, I could have dropped another tedious percentage of body fat and revealed some abs definition! Oh well, this time I know how to get there so at least it won’t be as difficult. But before I set a target, I want to do some math, love me some math!
For below calculations: weight in lbs * BF% = fat in lbs
weight in lbs – fat in lbs = muscle in lbs
Weight in lbs Fat in lbs Muscle in lbs
93 15 78 @ 16% BF
103 16.5 86.5 @ 16% BF
Gain +1.5 +8.5
110 21 89 @ 19% BF
105 16 89 @ 15% BF
Before I go further, a disclaimer, this is not a scientific method, this is my own personal way of breaking down weight loss into some sort of a science, not the same as science. I like numbers, that’s just how I make sense of things, you are free to come up with your own method.
Moving on, what the first set of numbers tells me: attain the desired body fat percent first, even if it means losing some muscle in the process, and then add back muscle and proportionate amount of fat to maintain the percent.
Looking at my current stats and my target, I might be doing fine in the muscle department but it is all hidden under a layer of fat. So my goal, ultimately, is to lose 5 lbs of fat only, however, that is not possible. In order to lose the fat, I am going to have to create a calorie deficit, which also means compromising on my protein consumption, read: losing muscle. It also means focusing on cardio instead of weight training. Lastly, 105 lbs is just an arbitrary value I picked up based on how I looked at 103 lbs. At 103 lbs, I wanted to lose another %age point in body fat content. I could have either selectively lost fat (-1), less likely, or have reduced some fat (-0.5) and increased some muscle (+2.5), more likely, hence a net gain of 2 lbs. I might reset this target as I begin approaching it based on how I look and feel.
Like I said before, it is not possible to selectively lose or gain fat only, so if I want to end up at 105 lbs with the desired body composition, I will try to go below it first and build my way up to it. My aim in the coming weeks: cardio, lots of it, and reduced calorie intake until my total weight drops below 105 lbs. At that point, I will recheck my body composition and take it from there.
This is my introductory post to this series. In the next post, I will get into the specifics of this first deficit phase, like what I eat, what workouts I do and some meaningful BEFORE pictures 😉
PS: I am a shortie (5’2″) so these weights are within a healthy range for me. Make sure to check your BMI to find the appropriate weight range for yourself. Note that body composition ratios vary for men and women.
Happy Staying Fit!!