This is the latest account of my road to fitness, of which the previous entry is here. There are no zombies.
February was tricky
When I started this thing I said there were a few things that could throw me off — injury, motivation, lack of discipline, or just some random part of life getting in the way. For such a short month, February sure managed to pack in a lot of these things…
What I’ve Done
Activity levels were good, and despite a range (knee, back, neck, shoulders) of niggly injuries I’ve managed to keep to some sort of programme. Swapped some running for cycling and lowered some weights / replaced some exercises. Hasn’t always been 100% but I’ve got as close as I can: 36 activities, 38 hours duration for 12,678 total calories which is near enough what I managed in January.
Diet. Well there were a couple of bad weekends in there, no understatement. Calorie-wise I almost reversed the deficit I’d achieved through the whole of January in about 6 days. There wasn’t one particular reason for this, and if I’d done the same thing a few months ago I probably wouldn’t have thought too much about it — just goes to show how easy it is to lose track of things I guess. I managed to pull things round by the end of the month though and ended on an overall deficit of 1287 calories for the month. Nothing too great but a lot better than where things were looking in mid February…
Life Finds a Way
To store fat apparently. Notwithstanding a whole pile of ill-discipline and binging on my part, I’d begun to notice that previous to this, even as the overall weight was coming down, a greater proportion of that was starting to come from muscle instead of fat. Which sucks. It sounds like I’d gotten myself into some sort of catabolic state. Limited Google-research in this area leads me to believe there could be several factors at play here:
- A calorie deficit. Check (mostly). Clearly this is required for fat loss in any case so not much I can do about that.
- Insufficient resistance training. Nope. Solid 3 sessions a week with lots of big compound lifts, plus a lot of the functional training I’m doing is resistance based as well.
- Excessive Cardio. Possibly. Though this seems to be disputed depending on what you read. Also cardio is good for the heart and mind so I don’t really want to dial this back too much.
- Lack of protein. Possibly. I’ve been aiming for 125g but more often averaging about 100g.
So based on the above, the best option seemed to be upping the protein. For the last couple of weeks I’ve been aiming for 150g a day. Which is quite hard to be honest and would probably be impossible without a big bag of whey protein powder but I seem to be getting there and whilst it’s not long enough to be conclusive, early signs are that the fat/muscle loss ratio is improving in the right direction.
Sleep is for The Weak
In so much as sleep makes you stronger at least. Deep (SWS) sleep in particular does this — in the same way that REM sleep helps your mind recover. Getting enough sleep full stop is obviously an important factor but if all of your sleep is light sleep then you’re going to be in a bad place. For some reason, that I am yet to get to the bottom of, both Deep and REM sleep declined from about the 3rd week in January. Strangely enough this is roughly where I started to see the muscle/fat ratio start to go the wrong way. Whether these things are related I do not know.
Overall recovery was 10 points lower in February compared to January and I can’t really put my finger on why. Activity and sleep quantity was fairly static across both months. Again, I don’t know whether this is tied into the lower levels of deep sleep I’m getting but this is something I intend to dig into.
Is It Getting Better?
Something is. I do think that RHR & HRV are probably the most reliable indicators of fitness and they’ve taken another good step forward. I’m probably near enough where I was this time last April so ahead of schedule in that regard.
The plan for this month is pretty clear:
- See if I can figure out what’s going on with the lack of quality sleep / recovery.
- See how the additional protein works out. I hope it works out as I don’t think I can face any more protein shakes if it doesn’t.
- Maintain a bit of cake discipline.
Easy as 1, 2, 3. Hopefully.