IF Series, Part 4: The Gym Rat Turns Fat, Again

By on February 2, 2021

I have always loathed going to the gym. Even though I loved the girlfriends I met and the friendships I made in spin class, I hated the “eat less, move more” bandwagon I was on. I felt like if I didn’t go to the gym, I would get fat. I was trying to earn more Weight Watchers points so I could eat more. Sometimes I would go to the gym twice a day just to earn those dang exercise points. I was desperately trying to be the skinny girl people saw on the outside. But inside I hated my life. I didn’t hate myself, I hated my life at the time. Today I am talking about what has changed since those gym days, how exercise fits into our intermittent fasting (IF) lifestyle, and how we have come to enjoy exercising again.

During those intense gym days from 2010-2016, I was teaching a full day, getting two hours in at the gym, and listening to Brian complain at the thought of having to join me. I may have loathed the gym but Brian out-right despised it. The gym rat life wasn’t for either of us. If you are a gym rat and you are happy, I am happy for you. I am not here to judge anyone else’s journey. Just like with food, we all have to find the exercise that best fits our own lives. I am here today to talk about our journey. Our bottom line: We are the happiest going on adventures in the great outdoors. We love where hiking takes us. We love where biking takes us. We love exercising together.

Our happy place!

We can’t hike every day, except in the summer when we find ourselves outside almost every minute of every day. But we also know we can’t keep up with the grand adventures we’ve had in our younger years without exercising throughout the year to maintain our health. We both turn 50 years old this year and we are well aware of how muscle mass deteriorates as we grow older. Just like a carousel, here we are again, learning to find an exercise regimen that works for both of us.

Let me be very clear about one point. I did not gain weight because I stopped going to the gym. I gained weight because I didn’t eat well, my Hashimotos was not controlled well, I was experimenting with new medications, and I entered peri-menopause. My weight gain happened before I started practicing IF. I have not gained any weight since we started IF two years ago. My Hashimotos is currently under control and IF has helped to control my hormone fluctuations during menopause. You can read about our food journey by going back to the start of this series, just click here. Additionally, I have only stopped exercising completely because of injury and I have had my fair share of injuries. ☚ī¸ Since my days at the gym, I had skin removal surgery that took 3 surgeries and a rough healing process. I was thrown from a horse, breaking both my arm and pelvis. I have had surgery on both of my feet from overuse, bunions, and hammertoes. I had to stop running and doing triathlons because my bladder hated all of it. Life has changed a lot since my gym days but my love of being active is greater than ever.

Walking, hiking, and bicycling make me feel invigorated, young, and free from stress. It brings both of us great joy to wander through old towns, climb big mountains, explore quaint villages in other countries, and see all that our world had to offer. We want to live out our favorite adventures for the rest of our lives, and as our tag line says, we want you to take that adventure with us. The gym didn’t bring me joy, sometimes I cried in pain, but seeing a grand vista from the top of a mountain can bring me to tears in a way nothing else can do.

The question is how do we stay active during our busy school year so we can continue to climb those mountains? Honestly, the answer is simple. Do something every day. Sometimes I just work on my balance ($20). Other days I sweat on my spin bike ($500) or walk up a mountain on my treadmill ($900). Sometimes, but it takes a lot of internal motivation, I swing around my kettlebells ($95). I have linked all of my home gym items for your reference, and yes, I spent quite about $1500 on setting up our home gym but it’s still less than 2 year’s gym membership times two people and we bought these items over time. However, I am much happier working out at home and I work out more often than I went to the gym. Earlier, I said you have to find what works for you, this is what works for me. I can work out with or without Brian, at 7 a.m., noon, or 7 p.m. I don’t get distracted by driving past McDonald’s on the way to a gym, talking for longer than I worked out, and nobody has to look at me while I sweat. Oh, and I can watch whatever motivates me on TV and nobody has to see my 80s vibe! 😂

Working out together at home

The point is we continue to be active. More importantly, the other point is nobody can outrun a bad diet. I am spending more time learning to eat well, eat less, eat less often, and as a bonus, exercising as I can for the purpose of being ready for our next big adventure and adding to my overall health. I don’t depend on running off calories so I can eat more. I no longer believe in the calories in, calories out mentality. If you want to know what I am talking about, I highly recommend you head over to Dr. Fung’s website, click here. He is the expert on understanding why calories in/calories out is a myth.

Yes, I got a new home gym, and working out on my terms is wonderful. But there is another big change since we started IF. This one may be too much but stay with me. We exercise while fasting. If that surprised you as much as it surprised me two years ago, I get it. The thought of exercising while fasting horrified both of us. But now, understanding the science, we exercise even if we have been fasting for 20 hours or multiple days. We don’t exercise the same way I did during my gym rat days but we do exercise. We have hiked 10+ miles, worked out in our home gym for 60-90 minutes, or enjoyed a good yoga class, all while fasting.

Here’s what we have learned about fasting while exercising: My head is clearer and I can work harder when I exercise in a fasted state. Honestly, my head is clearer all the time when we are practicing IF well! It’s the best feeling ever! Click here for a great article about exercise and fasting. We have been working on building our “fasting muscle” for two years and have built up to what we can do now. We started easy, going for a walk while fasting, then working out a bit hard at our home gym, hiking 10+ miles while fasting, and ultimately hiking much of the Camino in a fasted state.

Historically, people didn’t work out in a commercial gym because they didn’t exist on every corner like a McDonalds. I know commercial gyms have been around since the mid-1800s, but the purpose and accessibility was much different. The average person didn’t need a gym to work out, they just lived an active life. That’s where I am at: We should all want to live an active life full of activities you enjoy doing for the purpose of being able to move well as you age. It shouldn’t be tied to the thought of losing or gaining weight. We manage our weight based on what we eat and when we eat it. We manage our physical health by moving our bodies in a way that makes each person happy. These are two separate ideas and should not be linked together.

Next week I am going to talk about our relationship with alcohol and use it as a metaphor for life. The following week I am going to recap the lessons we have learned from our 2-year journey practicing intermittent fasting. Finally, I will round out where we are today on our journey as I discuss the changes we have made in 2021 and how they are impacting us. Hint: 2021 is going very well even with a few hiccups along the way.

Thank you for coming along on this journey of self-reflection. Subscribe to our website to get notified when we post new blogs. I pray these blog posts help you on your own journey to good health and even better living. Ultimately we have one life to live. The goal should be to live it well.

To go back and re-read this series from the start, click here. To read post #5 in this series, click here.


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