SpecterFit 41: Cardio

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If you’re paying attention, SpecterFit 41 has skipped a week and now I’m setting a precedent of only having three columns per month… or perhaps, one column short of the full month. Time will tell, but I say all that to say it’s time to talk about the next step of getting fit and moving forward: cardio.

The myth about cardio is that you have to run. Bullshit. Running, while a cardiovascular activity, is not the only method of cardio. In fact, as long as you’re doing something that gets your heart rate up for over 20 minutes counts as cardio. If that is dancing, running, walking, karate, parkour, or whatever, as long as the heart rate is up for at least 20 minutes, you’ve attained cardio goodness.

End of column.

Okay, just kidding.

Nothing you do with your health, short of the eating portion, will be highly effective without cardio. None of your workouts should be considered complete without cardio. Hell, you should both start and end your workout sessions with cardio, something I used to do a lot and now almost never do. Yes, do as I say and not as I do because I’m about to start doing these things again to make my point.

Oh, and I’m 306 as I write this. You’re hopefully starting to notice the downward trend in the number, even though that number isn’t rocketing to the bottom of the scale as fast as everyone would like to see. Why don’t I show you something?HealthBar

This is a screenshot of my actual Health Kit from my iPhone today. I weigh myself every day, which doesn’t mean you should also do this, but because I do I get to observe trends in how I lose weight over long periods of time. Note: there is almost no cardio at all in this trend here, I posted this to show you a little something to talk about before returning to cardio.

My weight does this when I’m losing weight. I’ll have a few “peaks and valleys,” then I’ll have a stiff dip before a slight rise and the peaks and valleys will return. All of this happens on the downward trend.

I can tell you which days I didn’t eat like I should have been eating. You’d think all of those would be the peaks but they aren’t. The body needs a random, unhealthy meal now and again to jump start things. The last unhealthy meal I had on this chart is the third to last dot. Before that, the last peak before the big valley was a cheat meal day. I concentrated on walking a higher number of steps each of the days afterwards and despite my best efforts, the weight will rebound every time before a new trend begins.

Let me get off on a slight tangent.

The experts in fitness say you shouldn’t weight yourself every day. I ignore those experts because I realize that no matter how hard I try, unless I stop eating entirely, I’m going to have peaks and valleys. I weigh myself every day in order to establish these patterns and trends so I can use them to my advantage. When is the next time I should have a cheat meal to keep moving in the right direction? If you look at my chart, you’ll see when I start coming out of that big valley because it will help reestablish the next trend. After today’s dot, I should see another downward slide for a few days before a rebound will occur and I should consider another cheat meal.

I am not discouraged by weight gain because I know that what you see above will happen all the time. If you can understand that about yourself, then you should weigh yourself daily, too. I weigh myself before I eat, drink, shower… I want to get out of bed, hop on the scale, and get my number. If you get into that habit, watch the trends, and you can start moving in the right direction, too.

Thus endeth my tangent.

My knees aren’t in the best shape in the world. I use walking as my primary source of cardio because at my current weight, running just isn’t plausible. I don’t really do a lot of dancing, I don’t want to do aerobics in my living room, and that leaves walking. When I walk, I try to walk to get my heart rate up (and I usually succeed). If you’re bigger, walking is your key to jump start your cardio.

Way back when I started my initial weight loss, I was 328 pounds and I used FitBit to track my steps, weight loss, and caloric intake. Now that I know how to eat, I don’t need to watch my calories so much. I use Argus as my step counter now, and FitBit doesn’t work with Apple’s Health Kit, so I don’t use FitBit nearly as much as I used to… and my goal for steps each day is a minimum of 7,000. Ideally, I’d get at least 10,000 but I’m satisfied with 7,000 per day. The last three days I’ve gotten 8,000+, though I can tell you I’ll have less than that today (unless I go for a walk). I’m wanting to walk because I want the trend to return and cardio helps that.

Cardio gets the blood pumping and gets your body burning calories because your metabolism is heightened. If you want to lose weight, diet is import (diet, not A diet, but your lifestyle of eating), but cardio is second in line. Get moving. Walk a few steps every day. Set yourself a goal and beat that goal. Get more steps. Set a new goal. Beat that goal. Keep moving. You’ll melt off the weight without killing any part of your body. If you sit around on the couch all the time, you aren’t getting cardio done. Cardio is an important key.

I’ll talk more about fitness (and cardio) next time. Hopefully I’ve inspired you to get up and walk. Start with 5,000 step goals and move upward from that. Don’t try to go from 5,000 to 10,000, but at least start with 5,000 and beat that consistently before moving up 1,000-1,500 steps. You’ll love the results.

Get fit.