I just turned 47 years old. When it dawned on me, the other day, that I’m now closer to 50 than to 40, it kind of depressed me. I’m not ready to see 50 years old coming. This isn’t right. I can’t be getting this old. I’m not done with my 20s, yet.
Since my 46th birthday, last July, I determined I wanted to bulk up with just a little more muscle. I didn’t want to get all bodybuilder “swole”; I just wanted a little more meat on my frame. So over the fall and winter, I did my P90X regimen, including the weight lifting, and I increased my caloric intake, (especially protein). Come springtime, I had put on 10 pounds.
With the arrival of spring, I started cutting back on the calories, and started doing more cardio, including running. (I don’t like running in the winter cold; I only run in the warm seasons.) I knew I’d finally have my six-pack abs for my 47th birthday.
As the pounds melted away, I was disappointed to learn that apparently the 10 pounds I had put on during my “bulking” phase was not muscle. Come to this birthday, my weight was back to exactly what it was last year, and my body looks exactly the same as it has since I originally accomplished my fitness challenge. I mean, exactly:
It’s frustrating. I wanted just a little more muscle size, and just a little less fat layer. I worked damn hard this year — just as hard, (and I thought, smarter), as I have any year since I started this effort to get super fit. I’m not saying I’m unhappy with my fitness level. Nor am I complaining about being “skinny.” This is not a whining post. I’m just relating information from my experience.
Getting six-packs abs is hard. I’ve done extreme exercise at least an hour a day, six days a week, for four years. I’ve carefully watched my nutrition, counting every calorie I’ve ingested. And still I haven’t been able to resolve that last thin layer of fat that would reveal well defined abs. I’m not unhappy with my results, at all, but I really was hoping and working hard to get the visible six-pack.
Anyway, even without getting the sharply defined six-pack, being fit is awesome, (compared to how I was before). And I’ve learned some things about the human body’s physiology and biology that I didn’t know before. Or, rather, that I didn’t really, truly understand — *get* — until going through this effort. Here are some things I’ve learned about a body that I didn’t truly realize until experiencing it for myself:
- My body can vary up to 3-4 pounds in weight in one day, from morning to evening. I’ve “lost” 3 pounds while sleeping over night. And then “found” them again the next evening. This is why you should weigh yourself always at the same time, only in the morning. Sure, I know I’m eating food all day, and that’s adding weight into my body, but it’s weird to have it seemingly just “evaporate” while sleeping for 8 hours.
- I get cold easier without the body fat to insulate my internal temperature. I didn’t appreciate how well fat really does keep warmth contained.
- I can feel my wallet in the back pocket of my jeans when I sit down. And sitting on chairs or bleachers without a cushion is very uncomfortable. This is something you’d think would be subtle only, but it actually is very noticeable, and a bit annoying if you’re used to a nice cushiony buttocks.
- Clothes fit so much better on a skinny/lean body. This is something I’m sure everyone knows is obvious, but it’s even more important than I expected. Everything is just more comfortable.
- And finally, when you realize just how hard and long you have to exercise to burn off calories, (like by using a heart rate monitor), it gets easier to say no to dessert and unnecessary foods. Knowing that doughnut will require 30-40 minutes of really hard work, (not just a walk around the neighborhood), helps keep a diet.
So, this is my traditional annual birthday/fitness update post. I’m maintaining my level, and I’m still very happy with how I’ve handled my mid-life crisis. Now if I can just keep this up while the big 5-0 grows larger on the horizon, maybe the half-century mark won’t hit me so hard.