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Sunday, July 16, 2023 - 00:32 SGT
Posted By: Gilbert

Fitness Journey 2023

Returning after a four-year hiatus

The other reason for the reduced blogging tempo might as well be revealed today, and for this the story began this January, when I got a new fancy bathroom scale after the move, and discovered that my weight had ballooned to over 86 kilograms (or some 190 pounds, in freedom fries units). This had the hamsters issue an invitation* to join the roly-poly club, at which I insisted that the scientific method insists on replication, following from my shedding some 10kg in three months on a keto diet, back in late 2020. Some cautionary warnings in the national broadsheet notwithstanding, albeit on the back of a successful study by NUH, I saw no reason to change a winning formula, and resumed my keto meal subscription then. This resulted in a similar if slightly-reduced (which might be attributed to Chinese New Year face-stuffing) rate of weight loss, and I was down to about 80kg by late March.

That was about when I was making some bigger changes in my life, recall, and with my cousin also persuading me into a tennis coaching session each Saturday morning, I figured that I might as well get my general health back on track. While my condo has a gym, it is admittedly rather paltry, and thus I trekked over to the local Anytime Fitness** to sign up, whilst also sourcing for an online trainer. That last is certainly hardly mandatory - I gather most would be well-served by tweaking some popular beginner plan, and sticking to it - but it certainly doesn't hurt to get some feedback, and an extra pair of eyes on the progress.

Kind of in this spirit, but easier
[N.B. Ignore the no-aircon and cold shower bits, that's not practical in tropical heat island Singapore]
(Source: quora.com)

First off, 10km daily is probably a tad too much for a... well-preserved body to dive straight into, and as such the cardio program's 10,000 steps a day - a standard which while apparently born from commercial interests, does seem to correlate well with a variety of health benefits. This was mostly made up on the treadmill, with the to-and-fro stroll to the gym typically taking some 4,300 steps (gradually reducing across these few months, perhaps due to marginally increased stride length?), and I'm proud to state that I have not missed the stride target yet***, from the starting date. This was in tandem with two, then three weight (and bodyweight) sessions a week, usually lasting about an hour each; normal walking on the treadmill afterwards for weights days, jogging/tempo runs if not, Netflix either way (with some reviews to come)

I have very recently added a weekly group run of some 11+km, where I was pleasantly surprised to be able to hold a pace of about 7min/km, and rediscovered the joys of group cadence and pacesetting. My best longer-distance pace was probably just slightly lower than 6min/km, half a lifetime ago in the army, but then I was never an especially inspired runner - or soldier. Not too shabby for a few months of effort, then.

Starting weekly average 86.2kg, now dipping below 70kg

With the bathroom scale now keeping records of its own, there's no need for pesky Excel spreadsheets, and it has indeed been a pretty consistent drop over half a year, if with swings of a couple of kilograms within a week common. The latest reading has finally entered sub-seventy territory, which should be the lightest that I have been, for a decade at least. Figure I'd try to drop about five more, to return to my high school weight (and hopefully, conditioning) before clean bulking back up. Waist size has also concurrently reduced from bursting-out-of-36-inch-pants to just under 31 inches, so new wardrobe, I guess.

One of the perks of gym membership is access to their Evolt body composition scanner, which also has tended to report weights a kilo or two lower than my home scale. Anyway, some of the key stats measured, for reference:

Date26 Mar21 Apr25 May30 Jun
Bodyfat %24.6%22.5%16.5%14.6%
Muscle Mass32.7kg32.9kg33.4kg33.4kg
Subcutaneous Fat16.5kg14.8kg10.6kg9.0kg
Visceral Fat2.8kg2.4kg1.5kg1.2kg

So newbie gains still available, one supposes, with (minor) muscle gains coming together with rather more-significant fat loss. Interestingly, the body appears pretty good at rebalancing itself, with my left arm and leg (not entirely unexpectedly) starting out with a percent or two less muscle, than the dominant right side (see: exaggerated example), which is slowly resolving itself. Slightly irritatingly, the bulk of the remaining fat appears to be socked away in the torso (i.e. tummy), but one can't deny that that's probably the most efficient place to carry one's emergency energy stores, which has likely saved a bunch of my ancestors in hard times. I do remain eager to divest myself of it, though (even just five pounds takes up quite a bit of volume), and enter the 10-12% bodyfat range.

...if I don't get picked up for unacceptable political views, that is
[N.B. Well, since the gains from exercise-work can't be redistributed according to the whims of leftist intellectuals, it's by definition fascist then!]
(Source: twitter.com)

[*In hamster-lingo, of course.]

[**It's probably a good idea to choose a chain gym that is both large and has been around for some time, given how smaller newcomers tend to close without notice (after collecting fees upfront)]

[***If with the required strides carried over to the next day, on a few occasions.]

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