Sunday, August 17, 2014

What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been

Wow, it has been over a year since my last post. Why? Well, a LOT has been going on and it just hasn't been a priority of mine to write anything. I can't say that this will change, but something has been percolating in my brain for the last few weeks and I just want to pour it out...

To kick it off, I need to give you that song... Of course, if you are even slightly familiar with "The Dead," you know that the title of this post came from The Grateful Dead - "Truckin'"

I have been a member of a website/app called Fitocracy for more than a year, now. The site is sort of the facebook of fitness. Basically, members post the workouts that they did for the day and share that information with their 'friends' on the site. Largely, friends encourage each other to improve their health and wellness. When I joined, I was very active. After a couple of months, things tapered off and I wasn't able to exercise as much as I had been. As well, I simply stopped visiting the site.

Recently, I have a renewed interest (and time) to improving my physical well-being. I started going for walks and doing some basic exercises. I also started using Fitocracy again.

Today, one of my fito-friends posted a question:
"Rest days question. - Currently my main aim is to lose weight, i.e. to burn as many calories as possible. Therefore I eliminated some rest days. Do you think this is ok?"

It made me think... What is considered rest and at what point would you be exercising too much?
...Time for me to share my history...
- When I was in high school (and jr. high), I had a paper route. I walked or rode my bike to deliver the paper for about 10 miles per day, 7 days per week.
- My school was too small to have a football team but playing football was one of my goals and dreams. So, I joined the track team to help me get into shape to play football in college. I was never much of a runner, but my goal was to be the next John Riggins (Washington Redskins, #44, running back). So, I figured that I could run the 100 yd. dash and throw the shot put on the track team. During track season, I went to practice 5 times per week unless we had a meet. This was added to my paper route.
- I joined a gym that was in the next town. It was about 12 miles away. I tried to get to the gym 2 or 3 times per week during the off-season - trying to stay in shape for track and - eventually - football.
- I was also a bicycle fanatic. I had a 12-speed bike (mountain bikes didn't exist back then...) that I would ride on the Rail Trail - I trail that used to be a railroad track - fairly frequently.

I was pretty active in high school. Even with all of this, I still maintained my 6'2", 220-230 lbs. physique. I just couldn't drop the excess fat. Granted, I didn't eat a spectacular diet...

When I went to college, guess what? I joined the football team! I went to campus three weeks prior to the semester for football 'doubles' - this is when you spend the morning training on the field, afternoon training on the field, and evening training on the field (shouldn't it have been called 'triples?'). In addition, you would hit the weight room to exercise. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner was always a buffet where we would eat enormous amounts of food! In those three weeks, I achieved the best level of fitness that I have EVER had - muscles grew, fat burned, and aerobic fitness improved!

Why am I sharing this? Well, the posted question made me think... At what point is it considered 'overtraining?'

My recent return to Fitocracy has me motivated to exercise. I am currently trying to walk every day for at least 30 minutes per day. Additionally, I am doing some body-weight exercises 3-4 days per week - sometimes more. Some days, my exercise is more intense than others but I will never be the next Arnold Schwarzenegger (for more reasons than one).

Personally, I think that each one of us has to 'test' our bodies to determine what we can handle and not be overtraining. Like anything else, as we work on something - whether it be weightlifting, walking, running, or other skills like writing, painting, playing an instrument - our skill and capabilities improve. If I was doing the level of exercise that I am currently doing, say, 5 or 6 years ago - I would definitely be overtraining! Now, I am more capable of handling the efforts I am putting in and I am not worried about it.

Either way, I intend to keep on truckin'...