A Lifetime of Diets and Fitness: Part 1

Weight management wasn't an issue for me for most of my life.  At eighteen I was 183 cm (6') tall and weighed 59 kg (130 lbs).  After I joined Hap Ki Do my weight climbed to a mighty 61 kg (135 lbs) and stayed there for years.

I ate whatever I wanted and considered body fat to be a problem for others.  My weight climbed as I put on muscle in my late twenties but as I entered my thirties the fat started to creep in too.  I was disturbed to see my 86 cm (34") waist become an 89 cm (35") waist that refused to shrink.  Since my father had died suddenly a few years earlier from a heart attack, I understood the consequences of letting your weight get away from you.  I decided I needed to pay attention to my body composition and started looking for ways to deal with my creeping waist line.

Before being confronted by my swelling waist, I had always assumed exercise alone would be sufficient to keep excess fat from accumulating.  Since my regular training regime was four 1-1/2 hour hard training sessions every week, it never occurred to me gaining fat could be a problem.

A little clarification on "hard training".  The normal forty minute Hap Ki Do warm-up sent fit twenty-somethings to the washroom to throw up from lactic acid build up.  On more than one occasion, I saw athletic, stubborn people drop to the floor in mid-workout, unable to proceed.  Strong guys mopped sweat puddles off the floor with their uniforms to prevent people from slipping when we started moving around the room.  It was hard, even for people who had been doing it for years.

And when we finished the warm-up we still had skills training for another fifty minutes.

I couldn't face an increase in exercise given that baseline and it  wouldn't have made any difference anyway.  Exercise helps, but ultimately it is how you eat that decides your body composition.

There was weight (i.e. body fat) management information floating around from the Canadian government and medical associations at this time, so I listened to it.  Paraphrasing their advice, the message seemed to be "follow the Food Guide" and "fats are bad".

So, I cut fats out and added more vegetables.  Some fat removal was easy, as I'd never eaten fat on the edges of my steak or enjoyed deep fried chicken skin anyway.  I just got more aggressive on avoiding such things.  Other fat sources weren't so easy to say goodbye to though. I love cheese, at the time I loved ice cream in large quantities, and I soon discovered many delicious foods are delicious because they contain fat.  Still, with my pants cutting into my middle, I resolved to remove the fat from my diet and to a very large extent, I did.

Confident I'd solved my problem, I accepted the need for 89 cm (35") pants and cruised along for awhile, wishing I could eat more delicious fat-filled foods.

Then one day I woke up and found I needed 91 cm (36") pants.

So, not only was I eating bland food, but I was gaining fat.  It was pretty clear avoiding fats and eating according to the food guide wasn't working.  I needed to try something else.

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