Exercise when obese vs now

IMG_2136When I weighed 312 lbs, I tried in vain to exercise away my bad diet and to lose weight. Needless to say, the attempt was a miserable failure for two reasons:

  1. I didn’t change my diet. I continued to eat carb-rich foods and foods with lots of sweeteners in it that continued to activate the cravings/appetite.
  2. I wasn’t able to exercise effectively due to the discomfort of being obese and a lack of motivation.

The first part is what I finally changed in 2015 when my wife and I did our first Whole30 in August of that year. The second part is something I finally tackled in September of 2016 when I began running.

The fact of the matter is that trying to do strenuous exercise when you are obese is not only dangerous, but extremely difficult and uncomfortable. I remember the simple act of climbing a flight or two of stairs would leave me winded and sweaty. Running, or even jogging, was completely out of the question. Walks would leave me exhausted and drenched in sweat. The sad part is that I thought that the sweat meant I was losing weight. Unfortunately, weight loss has no correlation to the amount you sweat while working out.

I tried and failed to lose weight using exercise when I was morbidly obese. I remember how hard it was, and how defeated I felt. I was in my mid-40’s and bought a mountain bike in an attempt to take up something to help me lose weight. I tried to ride that bike around the neighborhood, but every time I did, I felt horrible. I couldn’t keep my breath, my legs hurt for days afterward, and since I was so heavy, the act of pedalling tires that were bulging under my weight (which makes it hard to move) was all just too much for me. Fast forward three years. I rode my mountain bike on trails for the first time since I was 15 last week, and it was glorious. I grinned like an idiot for the entire 33 minutes, not only because it felt so good to be back out in the woods on a trail again, but because it felt so easy. It was effortless to get moving. I could pedal so hard that I actually did burn outs in the dirt!

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Exercise for me now is actually all about my heart health, getting some good cardio, and making sure I can run fast enough to pass my APFT’s in the National Guard. I don’t exercise to lose weight or for weight control: I eat carefully to maintain my weight. I understand that diet controls weight and exercise controls fitness. I wish I’d have had a better understanding of that 15 or even 30 years ago. My life would have been very different.

Exercising now is a joy. Exercising when I was obese was a dangerous and difficult proposition. If you are obese, consider changing your diet and waiting until you lose some weight before attempting strenuous exercise. You will feel so much better exercising when you’re lighter that you’ll actually be able to stick with it and continue your workouts. Sure, exercise leaves you a little sore if you did it right, but it’s a “Good” kind of sore versus the pain of injury. As I write this, my legs are feeling the burn of last night’s run. The funny part is that now, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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