Committed exercise journey – Small success and new learning

There’s a lot to learn on any journey. Often, you don’t realise how much you don’t know, or how wrong you were until you are a while down the path and new information comes your way. This week, I learned that there are improvements I can make to my progress.

First, an update on what I’ve been up to. I have taken the first exam of many assessments to become a Personal Trainer, which I managed to pass. It’s one of many steps to get to my certification, and I continue to study so I am prepared for the upcoming assessments, which will result in me being a qualified Fitness Instructor before the end of the year. With the current part of study, it’s largely either covering information I learned in a previous module, or things I already know due to my own knowledge and history of picking up information around health and fitness. However, there are things which are either new, or refreshing my focus, which has lead onto my recent view on my progress.

In the past few weeks, I’ve also managed to source a particular cake I loved years ago and haven’t found in shops. In 10 days, I ate 3.5 of these cakes, each containing around 1500 calories. That means I was eating roughly an extra 500 calories per day. Willpower was out of the window, which I wasn’t comfortable with, but the cake was as delicious as I remembered, so I ate it anyway. Interestingly, I didn’t put on any weight at all. This, along with my refreshed education has highlighted my area of improvement.

In other areas of life, I’ve been attending Crossfit classes 3 times per week. I haven’t done a run in over a month, and my garage gym is getting used less as Crossfit takes 3 of my 5 weekly workouts. This change in routine has provided mixed thoughts. With a garage gym, my travel time is around 40 seconds, and I can get started on a whim at any moment. For Crossfit, the journey is 15 minutes, which is not too bad, but there are elements which don’t work so well for me. I have to book into a class, which occur at specific times, and generally I have to book in advance to get a place. This means scheduling around home life and availability of classes. The problem is, I don’t always feel like working out when the time of the class arrives. I have made myself go anyway, but like any beginner to a new exercise system, it’s easy to find excuses not to go. I haven’t given into these excuses much, but it has served as a reminder as to how easy it is to find motivation challenges. We get used to what we know, what’s comfortable, and prefer to stay in that comfort zone. Even when you are making effort and getting progress, change is hard.

Now, onto my required improvements which have come to light. I was reading my coursework and came to the section on overtraining. Simply, this means you are either working too hard, or for too long, or too frequently, or without enough fuel. You are asking your body for too much without giving it time to recover, or the fuel to do so. This will usually mean less gym performance and/or less body progress. Reading this made me recognise that my lifts haven’t changed much recently, and that my weight and appearance in the mirror don’t appear to have progressed much either. I know I’m not working out too much, but as I haven’t been tracking any calories, I could be under fueled. With this, I loaded up a calorie tracking app, in this case, MyFitnessPal, and loaded in a typical day of food, along with my current weight and goal stats. First, the app suggested I should be eating 2400 calories per day, which is based on me being “Active”, and looking to lose 1lb per week. I don’t have a weight target, but do know there is body fat to reduce, so this seemed like a fair view of my goals. After a quick input of information from a typical day of food, this came out at around 1500 calories, excluding any random snacks or treats. Many days I’d have no snacks, or very few, and even on a “bad” day, I’d probably not have more than 500. Therefore, I am quite a way under what I’d should be eating. This would also be why eating a volume of cake didn’t make any difference to my weight; I had the scope to eat this without going over the suggested calorie count. This was quite the revelation. Not only because I was surprised at how few calories I was consuming, but also left me wondering how I was eating so many before I started this journey.

As I want to gain more muscle, this means giving my body the fuel to grow, which means a calorie increase for me. Currently, I am using this 2400 as a guide, and have the focus to increase my habits so I can get to the rough target amount. I want to try to have quality calories mostly, but of course will allow some for treats. Today is the first day of adding more to my day, so hopefully I’ll see the gym performance gains quite quickly, along with the body progress kicking in too.

It’s always valuable to keep reviewing where we are, and what we are doing to achieve our goals. What seemed like a good idea can sometimes look quite different a little way down the line. Improvement of yourself comes from effort, consistency, but also review and revision.

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