LGN 49: Beauty vs. Fitness

Inside:  Making progress again; At the supplement store; NGO; How much sugar is that?; Get used to the heat; How do you do it?; What’s wrong with attraction?

Hot fun in the Summer time

A warning to you loved ones.  Get used to the heat.  I read about all the people who passed out or suffered from heat stroke during a Chicago Marathon.  Thing is, on that day the temperature was pretty moderate.  Upper 70s and low 80s.  But it was in April so, apparently, people hadn’t been training in comparable heat.

Get acclimated, I guess, and have fun, you sweatball.


Do do do do do do.

This was helpful.  Watching a PBS health special.  This is not for everybody, but it helps to put things in perspective.  Remember.  Don’t listen to me.  Or “Trust but verify”.  I like that one better.

  • At any given time, we only need about 1 teaspoon of sugar in our blood to function.
  • We need to eat about 8 – 10 teaspoons of sugar (carbohydrates) per day to maintain that blood sugar level.  (That’s actually pretty close to ketosis levels, if you’re familiar with some of the low carb approaches.)

A helpful formula to convert from carbohydrates on a nutrition label to teaspoons:

  • teaspoons = (carbs – fiber)/5

For example…

If I make a mocha using Ghirardelli’s Chocolate Mocha that’s (33g – 2g)/5 = 6 teaspoons of sugar.

Justin’s recommendation for me (since I’m trying to shed fat) is less than 100g of non-vegetable carbs per day.  100g/5 = 20 teaspoons of sugar per day.

The average American eats more than 10 times that amount daily.  For reference, one medium McDonald’s fries is about 11 teaspoons of sugar, if I remember correctly.  Or to be less insulting and judgmental, there are  about 6 teaspoons of sugar in two slices of whole wheat bread.  Complex vs. simple, is something to think about — quality over quantity — but that’s still a good chunk of my 20 tsp. of sugar per day if I choose to eat a relatively healthy sandwich.

You can give up anything you need to

I also hear a lot of people say, “I can’t give up _____.”

Suppose that giving up foo for three months would result in shedding fat, going down 6% in your body fat.  Would you?  What if that thing was wine or cheese or pasta or — I don’t know — escalators or reality TV shows or cupcakes.

And you could have them after three months if you wanted.  Telling you now, if I have to give up Ghirardelli’s hot chocolate I’ll do it.  Half and half, bacon, cheese, wheat, alcohol or whatever.  I don’t give a duck.  It’s not more important than my progress.

You’ll notice, too, that the things we don’t want to get rid of are the very things that 1) result in NGO and 2) are known for slowing progress (or being allergens or irritants).  It’s never, “Oh, I can NOT give up spinach.  Won’t do it.”

It’s tough but we can do it.  We can do eeeeeet!

I think I’m making progress

Judging by my belt and some comments I think I’m slimming down again.  A little.  How am I doing it?  I’ll tell you because I like you.

I still have that stubborn mid-section fat, but I think my body is about to tackle that.  Getting close to the tough reserves.  Here’s what I’ve been doing differently over the past few weeks.  I haven’t been exercising more except for the not-quite-regular-enough jogging after UA workouts.  I’ve been slacking on those because of my shins, but I really don’t have an excuse any more.

That reminds me.  I think I’m over the barefoot running thing.  I still really dig the Merrell and New Balance minimalist trail running shoes, but I’m not ready to run distances in them.  They’re awesome for workouts and the shorter runs and sprints, though.  Plus working those small stabilizing leg muscles when you have to balance.  They feel good on the foot, too.  They don’t feel good when running on trails that have rocks and gravel, although the Merrell’s have a protective plate in the forefoot.  But I digress.

  1. I don’t drink alcohol, really.  I may buy a six pack of something and over the course of a week I’ll drink it.  Then it’s gone.  Then it’s weeks or months before I do it again.  Alcohol affects my sleep for the worse, for one thing.  Apparently, it also makes your body very good at storing fat.  I’ve read that your body can’t metabolize fat while it’s metabolizing alcohol.
  2. I seem to lose weight/fat when I don’t eat meals after work and after training.  I’ve laid off big meals in the evenings, for the most part, and instead have a snack and/or protein shake.
  3. Since all this eating stuff translates to less calories — and yet I still need calories to stay strong and get stronger — I’m trying to be good about supplementing with protein.  I’m also trying some recovery drinks.  I went to the Arlington Nutrition Center and asked for something good for mountain biking and something good for training.  Got some protein and a recovery powder.  Hopefully, it will not cause testicular cancer in ten years, coach.  If it does, I hope I’m at least ripped and make a handsome, shirtless corpse.Do not just go out and buy anything on my word alone.  Seriously.
  4. Eating better.  I’ve reverted back to (mainly) my giant homemade salads.  Ensalada Grande o Gigante.  It’s a cyclical thing.
  • Chicken breast or thighs cut up
  • Lot of spring greens or whatever
  • Ground nuts
  • Maybe cheese (ideally one of the dry ones)
  • Tomatoes and/or mandarin orange segments
  • When I’m behaving I’ll just add balsamic vinegar and olive oil
  • Anything else I have lying around

I usually do that for two weeks and then I’ll run out of ingredients, procrastinate, resort to crappy chain restaurant food (for lunch), feel bad and then go grocery shopping and start the process anew.  Or I’ll go to the buffet place near where I work, eat food that has who knows what in it, but get inspired by the salad bar options.  Flax seeds by the spoonful.  Kale salad (tastes of sesame chili oil).  Boiled eggs and so on.

How/what are you doing?

Quick interjection.  I was thinking about something.  When people ask me how I lost weight or how I’m getting more fit, a very real answer to that is that I started.  I found something to do with built in momentum that eventually overcame the inertia (with the encouragement and suggestion of friends) and I started.  That’s either not a helpful answer or the most helpful thing you can tell someone.

I think what a lot of people want to hear is that you do exercise X, eat meal Y once a day, drink supplement Z and voila!  There have been so many times when people have told me that they’re thinking about starting to exercise/training/classes but want to lose weight first.  You want to lose weight before you start your fitness thing??

Or want [lifelong persistent injury] to clear up.

I can dig it.  It also depends on what you’re starting.  But I think those are virtual, mental hurdles.  If I could motivate people with words, my advice would be to start something.  I think that something group-oriented will have lasting effects and some built-in accountability.  There’s only so much inner discipline and motivation and one slip or shame spiral is usually enough to throw us regular Joes and Jills off track for months, if not years.

It’s amazing how our view of health and eating is so black and white.  It’s unrealistic and destructive in that respect.  Suppose we had the same attitude about our careers or relationships.

Well, I was late on this assignment and it had a typo and I didn’t get the promotion this time.  I probably just shouldn’t be working at all.  Know what?  I quit.  I’ll come back when I’m perfect and not before.


When I let myself get really hungry, though, I lose my portion control abilities.  I’ve really been overeating this week.

There’s the good hunger.  Like after a workout, you can eat something like a tomato with a little salt and pepper or blueberries and experience what I like to call a NGO — Non Genital Orgasm.  You know, you get that full body shudder of pleasure, have to close your eyes and, “Mmmmm that is amazing!”

But if I skip eating for too long it’s just jamming food into my facial orifice in a way that is opposite of mindful.  “Nom nom nom meat surrounded by white bread ggggggggghhhhh what’s on TV.”

That’s only good for, like, a few bites, though.  Then it’s just shame, regret and bloated drowsiness.  A cheap rush.

Not that there’s not a time to eat something rich or decadent, but I think that should always be a part of your strategy.  You can’t clench your (discipline/motivation) muscles forever.  I mean, if you train at anything physical you do sets, not one exercise for as long as you possibly can.

Beauty and Fitness

Okay.  Here’s the part where I may offend people.  Not my intent, of course.  I read feminist blogs and sites every now and then.  It’s informative.  I am not a feminist.  I’m not anti-feminist.  I’m not a feminist in the same way that I’m not a blackist.  I’ve said before that I don’t subscribe to -isms.  They’re worthwhile endeavors but a lot gets thrown out in lieu of rhetoric, politics, resentment and intellectual catharsis.

I don’t believe that being different means being worse or better.  For example, I’m stronger than most of the women at the gym, by many standards.  I can physically lift more.  Women, on average, are not as strong as men in that regard.

To put that another way, I can clean and jerk two 70lb. kettlebells (the last time it was in my program) a few times.  But I can’t clean and jerk two 35lb. kettlebells for a significant length of time, whereas some of the women train to do that for 10 minutes straight.

So in reality, I’m stronger by one definition but nowhere near as fit.  Not even close.  And we’re all working on improving those multiple aspects of our fitness to our respective limits.

Neither of those things makes me a better person than them or vice versa.  I may be better at picking up heavy things for brief periods of time.  Fact.  Big whoop.

This is on my mind because I recently read more about physical attraction and objectification and weight.  Okay, that was a weenie sentence.  I read (again) about the Fat Positive movement or philosophy.

I see a lot of women at the gym working toward their optimal version of themselves.  Attraction is subjective, obviously, so I’m not trying to speak to or for all of any group of people.  That’s a given.  There are cultural differences, too, although nothing is cut and dry these days.

I knew a woman who was beautiful and curvaceous and she said that she thought Trinity from “The Matrix” had a perfect body.  I was like, WTH are you serious?!  Not that there’s anything wrong with Carrie Anne Moss but that’s your ideal?

And guys have an analagous external and internal pressure to be lean, muscular, V-shaped with shredded abs.  Go to the movies and have a Chris Hemsworth walk around shirtless and listen to the audible reaction.  Our ideals include unrealistically defined abs, which is not to say that people don’t have them, but  it takes a LOT of work (years of training, possibly), discipline and strategic, temporary food deprivation for fitness models to achieve the magazine cover look.

It’s an extreme look that requires a very low body fat percentage.

I think I finally found my point

I’m saying that we can love ourselves and each other while at the same time wanting to be leaner.  Wanting to get rid of your excess fat is a worthwhile goal.  That will mean different things to different people.  Good.

Getting rid of excess fat should never exclude one’s internal health — cardiovascular system and such.  What’s the point of being lean if your arteries are clogged and scarred?  Well, psychologically internal, too.

Being overweight or obese doesn’t make you a bad person, obviously.  That’s nonsense.  It would imply that being lean and fit makes you a good person.  It does not.  From the amount of gym work and lifestyle choices my fellow trainees do, those who are getting leaner usually have found their dietary groove.  It requires discipline and experimentation.  (That doesn’t mean starving themselves, but getting the right amount of quality food for their bodies.)  Things come together at that point.  It doesn’t even necessarily mean that they’re working harder, just that they’ve hit their stride.  Although, a lot of them are working harder than I am, to tell you the truth.

Being overweight or obese does not bode well, statistically, for your health.  For your longevity and the quality of that longevity.

There are circles in which I’d be shredded to pieces for saying that.  And that’s too bad, really, because we have to be able to hold these multiple ideals in our minds.  I mean, it takes a lot of love, respect and sense of self-worth to be able to accept yourself in your current state/condition AND accept the fact that you’ve got work to do on you.

Like, I’m still overweight.  I’ve still got excess fat.  Between the sternum and upper thighs, my body is trying to hold on to that mess.  I am not happy with that and me and the mirror have had some harsh words about it, but it takes that tension — healthy internal tension — to do what needs to be done.  If I love me then … I want to be a better me.  Closer to living up to my potential, physically and otherwise.

If I want to be able to keep up with other Underground Athlete members, just working to get there will result in my being leaner and gettin’ cut.  That implies that losing fat is a critical milestone on the way to being fit.  Not the end all be all, but an important factor.

Meh.  That is all.

Dang.  Another long one.  I keep hoping that I’ll run out of things to say so I could, say, be outside right now instead of exorcising my pent up thoughts into a blog entry.

Have a great weekend, every one.  Keep up the good work.

Click here to see all of my LGN (I want to Look Good Naked) and functional strength training posts.

1 comment

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  1. garyarthuryoung

    Oh! And the liquid calories. That may be the main thing.

    Drinking unsweetened iced tea. Experimenting with different flavors. Using liquid stevia as a sweetener occasionally. Trying to train my palette to not need that sweetness rush.

    I can satisfy my fruit juice cravings with unsweetened cranberry juice, water (or seltzer water) and liquid stevia.

    That’s a lot of calories to not drink per day. On the order of five to seven hundred if I gave in to the fruit juice thing.

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