LGN 134: My Seventh Fitness Anniversary

Inside: Let’s do the math; Accidental Fasting; It’s been real

Wow. Seven years.

My family is good a barometer for where I am, weight wise. I have wonderful, well meaning relatives who greet me with:

“You’re putting on a little weight there, mister.”

“You’re getting a little gut there just like your uncle.”

Instead of hello or how are you doing. It’s not mean spirited or passive aggressive. It’s reflexive. It’s usually accurate, too. Annoyingly so.

Do you know what today is?

It’s our anniversary

Give or take a few weeks. I think it was February 20th, if memory serves. I started yoga first at PIES Fitness a few weeks before joining Underground Athlete.

I was desperate for change at the time and I got it. Constantly thinking about training, eating, not eating, changing habits, the workout journal (back when I started Justin gave us notebooks to track workouts, weight, stats, etc.), soreness, pain, recovery, stretching, rolling out, sleeping, new information, new places, new faces, new friends, thinking about it, talking about it too much, writing about it.

It was a welcome change from whatever other bulls— was ricocheting around my mind and driving me to yearn for personal revolution.

So where am I today seven years later? That’s the question. The answer is, it’s complicated. But first…

Let’s do the math

I’ve been on more of a 2x week schedule. That’s 2 times a week * 52 weeks * 0.8 = 83 sessions. (accounting for missed weeks and vacations). Let’s ballpark the past six years. 2.5 sessions a week * 52 weeks per year * 6 years = 780.

780 + 83 = 863 sessions

That’s about 863 sessions or hours of prime, programmed, handcrafted strength and conditioning training. Let’s say an average of 800 calories per session, judging from what MyZone usually records.

860 sessions * 800 calories/session = 688,000  calories

That’s 688,000 calories burned at Underground Athlete over the past seven years. Divided by 3,500 calories per lb. of fat. In theory, I’ve burned 200 lbs. of fat. I know it doesn’t work like that but the point is, I’ve been workin’ y’all.

There was a time when I almost reached my goal, which was sub-200 lbs. I started at 244 lbs. and hit some kind of weight loss set point around 203 lbs. I vowed never to see that number again. I’ve been trying to remember how I got there. Then I remembered.

Everything. If I did everything all the time I could lose weight and hold steady. Tracking what I ate, watching macros, training, cycling, mountain biking, hiking, backpacking, camping, kayaking, climbing, walking, 10,000 steps a day for a phase, a few fun runs, running (remember the running “club”?), and I kept it up in the Winter months.

Winter hikes, learning how to snowboard (almost), riding my bike to and from the gym in sub-freezing temps, doing extra-curricular workouts when the gym was closed for the Winter holidays, doubling up workouts, training and kettlebell classes back to back, Mental Toughness class, friendly competitive fitness challenges.

Here’s where it gets complicated. My social landscape changed. I started working from home.  My fitness tribe dispersed. I injured my knee and ultimately got surgery. That slowed me down.

Point being, I’ve steadily gained weight since then for whatever reasons. Maybe — you know what I think? I think that without a fitness tribe I lost a sense of fitness goals and drive. You know how they say you are what you eat. And you are the five people you spend the most time with.

Well, I don’t spend time with anybody. Not sure what that makes me. But more about that below.

Accidental Fasting

I watch a lot of YouTube videos. Somehow I got into the Brix Fitness videos. That led to Fledge Fitness. Then that led to YouTube suggesting a crap ton of intermittent fasting videos.

I realized that I was pretty much doing it accidentally. There were two things off, though.

  1. Every morning, I usually have coffee (homemade) with lactose free milk and sugar plus Swerve (a sugar substitute).
  2. I’ve been ordering out a LOT. It’s too easy. More ordering out than cooking. Bad for the body. Bad for the wallet.

So a few weeks ago I started tracking my food using MyFitnessPal again, limiting carbs and whatever else endomorphs supposedly need to do in order to shed pounds.

Two minor tweaks to my current habits. This is something I can do indefinitely. And natural food tastes amazing when you’re fasting-hungry.

Fasting can be powerful. It can be physical, spiritual, psychological. It can clear your mind, help you to reach goals, undergo transformations, and so on.

There’s a zone you get into. It’s not a happy zone. It’s not even a comfortable zone. Quite the opposite. You will be uncomfortable and if you push it there will be consequences. But then it turns into a flow. You find another gear that you didn’t know you had.  You need less sleep, you eat less, you become more efficient overall, you don’t spend your time scrambling for things to indiscriminately jam into your face, you lose cravings (although they can and do pop up at the strangest times).

Then you can build up a healthier framework based on the new habits while continuing to distance yourself from the old bad habits.

That’s when I realized that I’m socially fasting. It’s more of a social dry fast, though. It’s not necessarily intentional or even wanted. I’m too old for this shit. But it kind of works. And just like with a physical fast, there’s a certain amount of clarity that comes with it.

Gratitude. The most important thing I want to communicate here is how thankful I am for all of the people with whom (that’s so awkward I’d rather just end on the preposition) I’ve been metaphorically (and sometimes physically) walking this walk.

Underground Athlete

I mean, man. I talk about and sometimes bitch about the ups and downs but it’s hard to imagine the state I’d be in if I hadn’t been working in the gym with a plan and mini-goals for the past seven years. I may have made it to middle age, sure, but I’m pretty sure I’d be a wreck. It’s so easy to gain weight and atrophy steadily over the years and not realize how out of shape and unhealthy you are until there’s a medical emergency or scare. Man, if I had started ten years earlier … if only.

So thank you to Justin and all the coaches. And thanks for letting me cut my photography teeth at the gym and giving me a boost. In many ways I wouldn’t be where I am without you. Without all of you, UAers. We’ve had some adventures, huh.

So much of what I want and love to do, I’m able to do because UA has been a rock and a home base. I have a foundation of fitness and function that I can build on as needed and when needed. Like, “Oh man. I don’t feel like I’m in great shape. The weather’s nice today, though, so I guess I’ll just bang out a scenic 20 mile bike ride.”


I want to share my REI photos with you all. REI’s Outdoor School has been a bellwether of outdoor adventure. Great job, Matt Liddle and crew. Paul taught me how to kayak, navigate with a compass, and cross country ski. I learned (still learning after a hiatus) how to snowboard, backpack, camp, paddleboard, tie knots, and do a bicycle tour.

I believe that the outdoors is an heirloom that’s passed down through generations of a family. Not every family has the knowledge, experience or resources to learn the skills and appreciation that make the outdoors enjoyable and reduce risks. My parents and family worked hard to provide us with the opportunity to pursue whatever we wanted but we weren’t especially outdoorsy or adventurous.

I’ve gone to REI for much of my outdoor education and it’s changed my life. When I have the scratch I’ll do their travel adventures, but I’d have to focus and save up for that. Some day. Hiking, biking, kayaking Puerto Rico or elsewhere in the Caribbean.

LL Bean

Most of their outings are in New England, but Mike Phillips has some good stuff going on in NoVA. Those sunset paddles on the Occoquan are magical.


If you watch a lot of intermittent fasting videos, YouTube will start suggesting all other kinds of fasting videos: 16/8, 20/4, OMAD (one meal a day), alternating days, 5/2, water fasts, three day, five day, dry fasts.

But please don’t do those extended fasts and especially not dry fasting. Unless a medical professional either tells you to or helps you through the process.

In other words, people are starving themselves or depriving their bodies of all nutrition and sustenance as a weight loss strategy.

Don’t kill yourself to lose weight. And don’t let some bro or bro-ette convince you to because they’re cute.

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