Oh how I miss the good old days of Slick Willy (not the politics, that we ended up with a balanced budget out of Congress (a monumental task in and of itself considering today’s Senate), signed by the President. In any event, President Clinton notwithstanding, a new blog friend of mine wrote a post entitled “You Can NOT Out Exercise A Bad Diet“. I was going to disagree, because I did to an extent, but he’s actually quite right, depending on your definition of “not”. He then wrote yet another post, just today entitled “Fitness Breeds Fitness” in which he (wittingly or not), supplied the definition of “not” when he wrote:
“That just made me realize, fitness breeds fitness. I guess that is just the law of attraction”.
Now I don’t get into the “law” of attraction idea – I’m a really nice, decent guy and I’ve “attracted” some class A jerks in my life and it certainly didn’t have anything to do with me – but fitness absolutely breeds fitness. My friend went in a completely different direction with it though, so please allow me the opportunity to fill in a few blanks.
My diet, while decent enough, has it’s fair amount of grilled fat burgers with bacon and barbeque sauce, fattening pasta and even some fast food. My BMI is 21.2 (right smack dab in the middle of perfect), my body fat is somewhere around 12% (maybe less) and I’m fit as an ox. I didn’t get this way by cutting out all bad food – but I did cut out a four 2-liter a week cola habit shortly after I added cycling to my normal running routine (the timeline will be self evidently important in about 2 paragraphs).
At 171 lbs I cut out cola and dropped to 165, about 7 lbs north of where I wanted to be, but then I burned 162,000 calories through running, cycling and swimming over the last nine months or so and didn’t replace all of them because my weight dropped from 165 to 156 where I’m maintaining right now – and I have to eat like a horse to do it because now that we’re into nice weather I’m burning an extra 6,000 calories a week in cardio alone…
Here’s where the definition of “not” enters: “…and I have to eat like a horse to do it”. My definition of eating like a horse is static – it changes from person to person. What seems like a lot to me could seem like a crash diet to the next guy (or gal, girl or woman – take your pick). The same idea can be applied to fitness and then again to the size or shape of one’s body, and to really make this difficult, through time. To illustrate, I had an idea of what I wanted to look like when I quit cola and picked up my mileage. I’ve actually surpassed that ideal but as that came about, my muscles gained definition, my chest widened and my love handles shrank, what I wanted became obsolete and morphed into something else. Now that I’ve exceeded my goals, I want to do better. My definition of “not” is changing. When I started this all-out cardio blitz last summer, I’d have been pleased as punch with how I look right now, and now that I’m here, I am pretty happy – but I can do better. Here’s how the thought process goes:
[Looking in the mirror] “Brother, you’ve done a great job – you look awesome”!
“But I’d bet if I cut out some sweets and some trips through the drive-thru, that 1/4″ of belly would become a 6 pack again (it’s currently a 4 pack with a little laundry)”.
Before I know it, I’ve moved the goal line farther down the field – and once you do that, it becomes absolutely impossible to out run a bad diet – I’ve tried. That last little bit is always diet if you’re putting in the miles and because fitness begets fitness, if I want to progress from here I have to change that which will produce the final result that I’m looking for – because at this point, I just can’t out run that last 1/4″.
Is this all that important to me to change my diet? Meh, it is and it isn’t. Maybe I change, maybe I’ll just be happy with where I’m at – it’s still awesome after all. That’s another post for another time.
Oh, the timeline – I almost forgot… I quit cola after I started riding and Tri training – because the goal line, my definition of “not”, changed. It’s constantly changing and as long as I’m happy and in balance with my wife, life and girls, a little change never hurts… Until it does, then it’s time to back off and re-evaluate. See also: Bgddy Jim’s Self Evident Truth #3.