Fitness Fluctuations

I’m not sure what to call this post so I’ve settled for a title using alliteration, it seems accurate enough.

That was then…

My lowest weight to date in my journey of health and fitness was in the first quarter of 2019, coming in at 168.6lbs and boy, oh boy, did that feel good to accomplish! I’d been preparing for a Jiu-Jitsu tournament since late December / early January, hovering at 173 and decided to see if I could shed a few extra pounds and drop into a lighter bracket. I didn’t have a strategy for going into that lighter weight class, I just wanted to see if I could drop those pounds in a healthy manner and keep it off for awhile. I slightly increased the intensity of my workouts, kept my food choices clean and made a few extra trips to the sauna and was able to get down to 170, this had been the lightest and seemed like the limit for me, it was hard breaking through that wall. Having a facepalm moment regarding one of my supplements, Creatine HCL, which I forgot encourages the retention of water (insert duh/facepalm moment here) I stopped taking that and with the current training regimen, the remaining few pounds came off. I felt great, wasn’t exhausted from the effort and when I stepped on the mat in Spring 2020 I was in the best shape of my life, to date.

I didn’t medal, but BJJ-wise, it was my best execution of my game at a tournament. I performed in a mental and physical state closer to my goals of how I wanted to compete and it felt great.

I held on to that weight from March – September 2019. Fast forward through the rest of 2019, I moved into a place of my own, finalized my divorce, turned 40, switched companies at the beginning of 2020, COVID-19 debuted in the world(need I say more about that?) and the start-stop-start of BJJ academies and gyms, yada yada yada, I turned 41… and here we are in the last month of 2020.

This is Now…

My weight is currently fluctuating between 199-202lbs, and while I understand weight isn’t the only metric to measure levels of health and fitness, this is the heaviest I have been in a long while. It has taken a toll on me mentally, adding an extra level of stress that I don’t need and shouldn’t accept. A couple months ago, when I turned 41, I was given a clean bill of health after consulting with a doctor and having blood work done to address a few potential health concerns I had. I was happy to find out, among other results, that I possessed the testosterone levels of an 18yr old. One would think that I would be fine, then, with the subsequent weight gain and not let it get to me. But I wasn’t.

During the course of writing this, I’ve been able to objectively look at this weight gain and subsequent stress in order to deal with it in a better way. On average, even with adapting to COVID life, I train Jiu-Jitsu twice weekly and have a heavy lifting session on Sundays so I have been staying active. If I compare it to my level of activity during the early 2019 tournament prep, I’m probably doing 1/3 of what I did.

Anyways… I’m getting ahead of myself with the objectivity… so why am I talking about all of this?

Well, it’s a bit humbling and rewarding to work at recreating yourself and become the healthiest you can be, going from somewhere in the neighborhood of 25%+ body fat, down to around 7-8% and then a hit to the ole ego to allow oneself to then regress to around 20% body fat again. I’ve been here before though. Hell, I’ve actually been bigger. My largest weight was somewhere in the neighborhood of 235-240lbs, believe it or not.

Having been here before, you’d think I wouldn’t let it get to me so bad! So here I am writing in my glorified journal because I wanted to get some perspective, and really, I wanted to embarrass myself a little bit as a way to prod me back onto the path of action. Acta Non Verba and all of that. This is where all of that objectivity comes in to being.

The Pattern

When I started writing this, I was just a tad frustrated for allowing myself to get in to this current state. I can’t believe that the law of diminishing returns applies here… dammit!

I’d been mulling about for a few weeks (maybe a month or more) wanting something to blame other than myself. Pandemic Fatigue is a thing, after all, and while there may be some truth to it, I don’t want to short change those of us who are truly struggling with a full measure of that fatigue. Workouts got fairly lax during the shut down, that obviously didn’t help, but there were things I could’ve done to curb it and really, when it boils down, I didn’t. So to blame it on that doesn’t sit well. I could say that my more darker struggles play a part in this, sure, but that also doesn’t seem to sit well with me. I also went through a lot of changes in my personal and professional life, surely I could give credit to that too, yes? And then there is the body dysmorphic aspect of focusing a bit too much on the adipose tissue that had regathered around my mid section and equating the lack of six pack abs as being unhealthy. I’m also doing 1/3 of the work I was doing “then”.

I could sprinkle all of that around to “objectively” in a subjective way (I think) make myself feel better for the state of my overall health. But, again… it just didn’t sit right with me. Take them into account, yes, but I needed to dig deeper.

I just got done reading a handful of my own posts revolving around fitness struggles and successes over the last six plus years.

The Backstory of Tom (Sept 2014)

101 Days & 16lbs Later (Oct 2014)

A Year in Review (Sept 2016)

Keep Going, Results Come (Oct 2018)

I’ve noticed a few patterns starting to emerge here, one of them being that these posts are always done in the Fall. What is that all about? Even this one, being posted in late fall, right as Christmas season is in full ramp up. Another pattern is that there were things that prompted me to action, I’d act and stay in action and then gradually, slowly, lose momentum and become complacent, even if it was only a little bit. I am in another cycle, but this time it is slightly different. External factors don’t seem to be prompting me to action this time, it is coming from an internal pressure. I’d like to say this is just another evolution of figuring things out and continually developing the person I want to be. Tempered properly, the internal pressure is partly because of the vision I have for myself regarding overall health and also how I want to perform in life long term, as well as in the gym and on the mat. The pressure to embody wholly that which I espouse. That seems closer to something I can sit with as it is myself dealing with myself.

Food Choices

Objectively, my food choices have changed, too. Though I am doing about 1/3 of the work, I haven’t exactly tailored my food choices to reflect the lesser work I am putting out. My deadlift sessions are heavy and I’ve been chasing a goal of getting to 5×5 at 315lbs. Looking at myself, I recognize that there is a mix of muscle and fat that has accumulated. In a sense, “bulking”, however I haven’t been smart about it and I know this.

I’ve chosen way too many sweets and sugary treats than I care to admit, so I understand and accept that this is showing in the weight gain when it comes to the adipose tissue. The key is admitting it to myself.

Tom, you like sweets. Crumble Cookies, Haribo Gummies, Oreos… let’s face it, you could straight wreck a semi-truck filled with these things given the time and opportunity.

Yes… yes I do.

I also experienced something I’ve never experienced before when it comes to positive food choices: burn out. There were a few tasty meals that I prepped and ate for months and months on end and in this last year, I have found it damn near impossible to eat them again. Just… bleh. So, I’ve been experimenting with other meal prep, to mixed results.

The ‘Vid

I began writing this a couple weeks ago, I’m currently on the bench with The Vid. It has been interesting to say the least. I’m not going to detail that journey, it’s been rather mild actually. Like a chest cold, I’ve productive coughs but I’m able to breathe and function under quarantine. My girlfriend and I got the virus, somehow, and our circle is fairly limited. It is what it is.

However.

I’ve made myself do a couple kettlebell swing workouts while I recover. I’m tired and sick, coughing, etc., and I forced myself to do two workouts so far. Part of it, I guess, is a bit sadistic. I imagine myself punishing The Vid, making it uncomfortable as I sweat my way through the work. I’m being smart though, Sunday’s workout was just a small, ten kettlebell swing, every minute on the minute (EMOM) workout. I was feeling a bit better today, so I did two of those back to back, with a four minute rest in between. I’ve taken it easy the rest of the day, napped, drank water, etc.

This shows me something that I’ve known all along: if you want to do something, you will make the time and make yourself do it.

I was tempted to post my current pics of where I am at… but I’m going to save that for the next post of this kind, the one where I update and show where I am currently at on the path towards my vision.

I guess you should watch for that post in Fall 2021.

12 thoughts on “Fitness Fluctuations

  1. It sounds like a busy period of time and a potentially stressful one, you’ll bounce back in no time. Once you’ve achieved a certain level of performance it is easier to get back there.

    1. Thanks man, much appreciated! I have found one thing to be an interesting side effect of my overall fitness level declining even as I’ve continued putting time on the mat: my game increased for awhile. Last couple months have felt like a plateau but prior to that I was noticing drastic improvements in putting things together, etc. honestly I think part of that was due to my decrease in cardio so I had NO CHOICE but to be smarter lol

  2. Trust me, I’m 40 and I’ve been into competitive sports mr whole life. It’s a roller coaster for us all, trust yourself and my best advice would be never be hard on yourself.💪

  3. Hello, I am Anand from https://talkswithanand.wordpress.com. I have seen your articles and find them well-written, shareable, measurable, informative, and relevant. I want to ask you some questions. I want to know how to write good articles like yours. Below are some questions in the Interview form. If you will write the solutions to those I will be very happy and honored. I will also publish the same on my website (if you allow).
    This will help other bloggers also how to be a good content writer. I will provide your website link, this will help you to get good readers and more followers.

    DESCRIPTION
    Name-
    No. of Followers-
    Website Name-
    Why you have started blogging?
    What kind of topic do you write to prefer/ your specialty?
    (For example, Tourism, Technology, Fashion, etc.)
    How to write good content?
    Any tips you want to share with other bloggers?

    1. Thank you for visiting my site, Anand. You’re too kind with my blog, it’s really just an over-glorified journal at this point, but, if I can help, I’d love to.

      Name- Just Tom
      No. of Followers- Roughly 180 subscribers to my blog.
      Website Name- Just Tom
      Why you have started blogging? I’ve always like to write, ever since I was little. I figured this was my way to communicate best with the world around me.
      What kind of topic do you write to prefer/ your specialty? I don’t think I have a specialty. I write what I want to write about. That has ranged from Jiu-Jitsu, to fiction and poetry, to a couple political posts, to existential pieces about wrestling with mortality.
      How to write good content? The biggest truth I’ve found is that you have to write. It is a law of diminishing returns, so if you don’t write often, you won’t write well. Research is good, yes, about whatever topic is on your heart and mind, but experience is just as valuable. Equal to those two, I would say you also need to read good writers: fiction and non-fiction. Not to mimic them, but to see how good writers do what they do.
      Any tips you want to share with other bloggers? Do it for you. Don’t worry about the likes, the followers, the traffic. That can positively and negatively impact what you write. Write. Write for you. Write things you want to read. Don’t write to appease the crowd.

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