I started an experiment on myself on October 3. I wanted to make some minimal, and hopefully effective changes, to encourage people who believe taking an interest in their health will require too much time or an overwhelming amount of effort.
Without too much of a spoiler, I will tell you that I added a very manageable amount of exercise and changed nothing to my nutritional intake with the exception of a supplement. These are THE ONLY CHANGES I made.
The results were as I’d hoped. Nothing super dramatic, (I’m 4 weeks in) but I did a happy dance, as my numbers are going where we predicted. The first one I want to discuss is my weight…which is up one pound.
Keep reading if this has happened to you and you got discouraged!
The reason why I start here is because when we start strength training the goal is to build muscle…and that weighs more than fat AND we are ADDING TO our bodies. Wouldn’t it be nice if while we added the muscle, the fat simultaneously melted away?? YES!! But, that’s not how it works, especially as we get older.
If one of our long term goals is to lose weight, we can really do ourselves in if we focus on the scale. So, I’m up one pound and the time frame is 4 weeks. (Many weight loss products and programs may promise you to lose 20 pounds in this amount of time!) I would say at least 80% of the people I speak with would be discouraged by this and consider the effort a fail.
Rapid weight loss is never healthy for many reasons, and the point I will choose to make here is that it is typically not sustainable, meaning you will gain it back. When we lose weight we lose muscle and water. When we gain it back we typically add back fat. Not a good trade for your body.
In short, what did I actually do?
- I followed a beginning strength training program that required me to lift between 20-30 minutes four times a week. One workout was 20 minutes, two were 25 minutes and leg day was 30 minutes.
- I took 2 teaspoons of a high dose omega 3 supplement daily.
- Fat – relatively the same
- Muscle – increased
(This is why my weight has increased)
- The BEST part of my experiment is my cellular age or inflammation in my body. My initial measurement was 5 years older than my true age!!! UGH!! I’m told that many people are closer to 20 years over their age in years and so while I was slightly relieved…I’m going for 10 years younger!
I’ve already moved the needle 4 years, and so my cellular age and actual age are only 1 year apart. The integrity of my cellular membrane is improved, but I’m told there is still room for improvement. Challenge accepted.
- My basal metabolic rate increased (I’m burning more calories at rest)
- The needle moved from catabolic to anabolic (building muscle)
All of the findings support what is happening in my body, and I’m only at it for 4 weeks with a very minimal effort – strength training for less than 2 hours for the week AND an omega 3 supplement.
For this upcoming month, I will continue the strength training for approximately 2 hours a week, continue the omega 3’s, and I will log my water at half my bodyweight in ounces every day.
I am making few, but measurable, changes to my routine. I do not want to do everything all at once and burn out. I have one addition this month, water, and one more addition in December.
I’m hoping to have increased muscle and basal metabolism and lower body fat percentage, and lower cellular age. All of these things combined will improve my health, body composition, energy, aches and pains and mood.
Not a bad way to wrap up the year. Join me for an end of year challenge instead of reinforcing poor choices for November and December and then putting too much pressure on your January self. I’m curious to hear if you do and I’m excited to share the results of my experiment next month!