The Sine Wave of Doom


Sounds ominous, doesn’t it? I read articles from this website pretty regularly (FYI, he mostly writes from a bodybuilding perspective) and I thought item #4 in this post was particularly relevant.
Most typical americans go through these phases where they read an article or talk to a friend who has lost weight recently and they become suddenly inspired to make a change. They get all excited, join an exercise class and work really hard only to become so exhausted they go home and collapse and can scarcely ooze off the couch for a trip to the bathroom. This is the sine wave that Brad talks about. When your activity levels swing to extremes like this you remain at a stasis with your weight. The trick is to build up slowly with your activity, so you can maintain a higher metabolic rate consistently throughout the day. Your workout should make you feel fatigued, but you shouldn’t be so wiped out that you want to immediately take a nap. If this is how you feel, you’re working too hard.

I actually encountered this just a few weeks ago. I started a new exercise class called “Boot Camp” through my roommate’s dance studio. It was HARD. Really hard. And because I was up against people who were ten years older me and still kicking my ass, I pushed myself harder than I normally would have. I actually couldn’t even finish the work out and I did go home and become rather lumpy and useless the rest of the day. I just completed my third week of the class and already it’s much better. I can at least finish the class now. I also had to learn to take it at my own pace, regardless of my competition, even if that means being at the back of the pack for the running portion of the class. This time, when I finished, I wasn’t grouchy and irritable from exhaustion and still had plenty of energy to do my weekend chores. This is a good example of what you want to aim for. Work hard, but dial it back just enough that you can continue with your daily activities.

The same idea works for your nutrition too. You will eat really well for a day or two, then the office birthday rolls around and you are confronted with that decadent chocolate cake with creamy icing. Mmmmm. Since you were so good for a day, you think you can compensate with a big ol’ hunk of chocolatey goodness. Well, now you’ve just undone your hard work. This doesn’t mean you can never have your favorite treats again, but here’s an easy rule: If you follow your diet 90% of the time, it doesn’t matter what you eat for that other 10%. If you follow a 2000 calorie a day diet, that’s 200 free yummy calories you can have. Or you can save that all up and have a delectable 1400 calorie meal at the end of the week. Gives you something to look forward to right?

Ok, I’ve rambled, but you see my point, yes? Nutrition and exercise = Good. Compensation = Bad.

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