Yo Brain!

Got a question for you, since you seem to be the AF kinesilogist.

As you know, I was once in the Marines. But in the past eight years, I’ve gotten real fat and out of shape. I just joined the local YMCA and have been going at noon to work out.

A couple of years ago, during a routine checkup, a doc told me that I needed to spend 45 minutes per day on the treadmill, and that I needed to keep my heart rate at 150-155 range. (I’m 33, FTR.) I figure the best way to do that is by walking at an incline, since it’s easiest on the joints. (I know some on here would disagree, but nonetheless…)

Last week, when I first started, the heart rate jumped up to 165 pretty quick. In fact, it was hard to keep it at 155 range. But today, after just two weeks, the same workout only gets me to 145. I know that this ought to happen as I get in better shape, but I’m surprised that it happened in only two weeks.

Does this sound normal to you? Is there anything I’m doing wrong (or right, for that matter)? Any suggestions.

(The question is addressed to BWYF, but anybody with constructive comments is welcome to speak up.)

You good homie. Keep it up.

If you’re looking to shed some pounds, keep a food journal. There are some good apps you can use, even allowing you to scan the barcode off the package to get the nutrition info. MyFitnessPal is a good one. It’ll tell you how many calories you need to consume per day to lose 2 pounds per week (the max they say is safe). Once you start keeping track it becomes addictive.

Working out is great, I really enjoy it and should be at the gym right now, but losing weight starts in the kitchen.

Good luck. I’m going to go have some beers for you tonight.

I second the food journal idea. I created my own spreadsheet to track everything I eat and the calories. It’s amazing how much easier it is to resist that pack of Twinkies when you know you’re going to be entering it into your spreadsheet. I also use it to track calories burned everyday via my resting metabolic rate and whatever activities I’ve done that day. I’ve let the pounds reaccumulate recently, so I need to bust out the spreadsheet again.

Yeah, I used MyFitnessPal before with some co-workers. I liked it, and I should start using it again.

I know that it’s easier to not eat 100 calories than to burn 100 calories by working out, and I plan on doing that too. But I’m just surprised by how quickly I went from HR of 170 to 145 while doing the same workout. I expected this to happen, but not after two weeks.

The human body is a very adaptive machine. This is why you see the idiots at the gym who have been going for 6 months get nowhere… they still use the same weights as when they first started. Their bodies adapted and they didn’t push themselves to adapt more.

With cardio conditioning you can get your RHR heart rate rediculously low… the heart gets so strong it can pump the same amount of blood with much less effort. I read somewhere that Lance Armstrong’s RHR was something like 32bpm when he was at the top of his game. (even with PHDs this is still rediculous).

Nice Job, keep at it.

When I was younger at camp we asked this one kid what his nickname was and he said “Spike.” Then we asked him why he was called that. He said he just wanted to be called that.

I’ve found it’s pretty amazing how quickly your body adapts, endurancewise. Your experience Greenman sounds not unusual. Though there are diminishing returns. Your body can adapt quickly to an improved fitness level, but each additional step gets tougher.

The good news is that just being active seems to offer great health effects even if the weight doesn’t come off that much, so keep that up, no matter how it works with your weight.

In my experience (I’ve been quite overweight in the past, bordering on obese at one point, but am in reasonable shape these days), weight loss has almost always been more about controlling food intake than the amount of exercise you do. Portion control is really key, because it’s amazing how quickly the calories can add up if you aren’t careful.

For exercise, the trick is finding something that you really enjoy that just happens to be active. Ideally, you’d supplement that with some kind of cross training. I used to hate running, but I moved near a park that is really beautiful to run in, so I started doing that a few years ago (though not in winter). I can’t stand running on treadmills or most of the machines in the gym (not to mention locker rooms), so I find yoga is pretty good for muscle tone. And, at least here in NY, being one of the only (or often the only) man in a room full of women in yoga pants is an extra benefit.

As others have said, initially your body adapts quickly. This is because when an activity is new to you it is a complete shock to your system and your body (including your brain) freaks out.

That said, there is also a very significant effect neurologically as the activity becomes commonplace for you. It is entirely possible to run an X minute mile with a very elevated heart rate because you started out with poor pacing and then do it again in two days with a moderate heart rate because of better pacing. Cardiovascular endurance performance is every bit as much of a pacing game as a matter of your heart, lungs and muscles being in better shape.

So, I’d attribute it half to you being in better cardiovascular shape and half to just pacing it out with smoother strides and a steadier gait. Running (or walking) is a skill like any other and as you “grease the groove” it becomes more efficient.

It’s probably nothing to be worried about, unless you were on amphetamines or something the first time. Don’t do that.

Wait, so you’re one of the only men in the group wearing yoga pants? I know they are supposed to lift and separate and I’m sure everyone is impressed with your glutes, but this actually may not be sending the message you are looking for.

Yesterday, I was running on a path and ended up behind some middle aged guy wearing gray tights. I resolved to run faster so that I could overtake him…

This is a new fad that is a big pet peeve of mine. I have UA tights for cold weather and I wear shorts over them. That is how it should be. Guys have too much junk going on down there to just have it flapping in the breeze. Also, due to shrinkage people are bound to underestimate you.

Swimming is the most complete workout out there.

Keep it up, Greenie!

Good job greenie. Get that heart healthy for the young ones and to handle antiquated technologists.

Come to think of it, I had been doing some self-study CPE, so I might have taken adderall those days. I wonder if that has something to do with it.

Some endurance athletes, like runners, cyclists or triathletes, take Adderall when they race, as this supposedly helps them stay focused. I don’t think it’s healthy, like those guys who drink Monster beverages in the gym to help them feel pumped.

It’s true that some athletes take adderall during races. Few serious ones would do it while training. That would be the equivalent of wearing track spikes or race flats every time you run.

I didn’t do it for any kind of workout benefits. I used to take it while studying, but I was taking it now because I’m trying to study for a Business Valuation education course. It just happened to coincide with the time I started working out.