I have never really understood people who say that they have nothing to do. There are so many interesting things to do and so many fascinating things to learn that I will never feel that I run out of things I want to do. Sure, I might still be bored at times, but that’s certainly not because of a lack of things to do. Two things I like a lot are sports/exercising and cookies, so before we move on to the central part of this article, let’s talk about sports and cookies.
Sports and cookies
I have practised some kind of sport for as long as I can remember and I have never stopped; there has never been a period in my life where I haven’t practised or learnt some new sport. At the moment, I’m in the gymnastics team at National Taiwan Normal University and I’m enjoying it immensely. I practice as much as can, which normally means around fifteen hours a week, but sometimes more than that. During the summer while I’m back in Sweden, it’s much less, but I still practise.
Counterbalancing this, literally speaking, I also have a penchant for cookies. However, I’m not an epicure or something, I just like eating cookies, usually quite a lot of them, something most of my friends know (cookie monster!). If it weren’t for my arduous exercising, my body shape would probably be spherical by now, so in a sense, cookies and sports cancel each other out, at least when it comes to body weight.
However, practising swimming, running, diving, martial arts or unicycling, body weight isn’t really a crucial factor. Sure, all these sports will be easier if you are strong per kilogram, but you can still practise them at an amateur level without caring too much about what you eat. When I competed in martial arts, weight mattered, but not in a sense that really influenced my life. It was more a matter of seeing how much I weighed and then applying for the correct weight class.
Gymnastics and the weight of weight
Gymnastics is different. Every single exercise is a battle against gravity. When you go to the gym, you have an absolute scale of reference and you can see that today, you managed 80 kg whereas last month you could only handle 75 kg. You also gained weight, mostly muscle mass.
This wouldn’t necessarily be good fro a gymnast, simply because what matters is the ratio between your strength and your body weight. In other words, the goal isn’t just to get stronger, it’s to get stronger per kilogram. If you want to make a reasonable gym comparison, you should stop recording kilograms and just report % of body weight for all exercises.
Thus, I have deliberately tried to lose weight ever since I realised that one obstacle in the way of achieving some things I’m working towards is body weight. In short, everything I do when practising gymnastics would be much, much easier if I weighed less, so it makes sense to lose weight. The first challenge is to successfully do this while still consuming a reasonable amount of cookies.
The second challenge is that I can’t lose weight if that impairs endurance or strength too much. That would be stupid and defy the whole purpose of losing weight in the first place. Some basic research told me that most people who try to become stronger (in absolute terms) while losing weight at the same time seem to aim towards losing no more than 0.5 kg a week.
Think about that for a bit. For someone with my weight and daily exercise volume, it means that I should decrease my calorie intake by around 7%. Everyday. For several months.
A question of discipline
That requires some serious discipline. I know that some of you labour under the false impression that I’m the uncrowned king of self-discipline, but this is a very good example that I’m not. I have tried to accomplish this for many, many years (at least five or six) and failed every time. Provided that I keep to the above plan, one package of cookies puts me back by more than a week! If That means that if I’m diligent all days of the week except one, I will be standing still. I’m pretty good at being disciplined for limited amounts of time, but even the strongest resolve weakens sometimes.
In short, being determined to succeed 99% of the time isn’t enough, because that 1% renders the 99% meaningless. It sounds harsh and it is.
A milestone reached
This time is different, however. I write this article as some kind of monument. I have have succeeded reaching a goal I set up quite a long time ago, which was to weigh 75 kg on average for an extended period of time without significantly losing strength in absolute terms. That’s what I have done. It took me about half a year to go from just below 79 kg to just below 75 kg today. This is what the long and winding path to my goal looks like:
Where do I go from here, then? In theory, I could lose a few more kilograms before it starts being unhealthy, but I don’t think it’s worth it. Instead, I plan to keep my weight just below 75 and try to improve my strength and endurance without letting my body weight bounce up again. This goal is open-ended, of course, but I think that simply maintaining my current state is an achievement in itself.