Reclaim Your Body: Day 1

by | Oct 9, 2019

 

I am 52. Aging can be tough on the body and ego but the alternative is worse. I’m thankful to be where I am. My mantra is “never give in”; including to the inevitable downsides of aging.  This year has tested me, though, with hamstring injury and (like many of us) hormonal chaos.

I have gained weight, and lost muscle. Why I care, beyond the obvious waistband searing discomfort of my too-tight skinny jeans, is that I place a high value on being able to continue doing what I love – cycling, running, swimming, hiking – for as long as I can and in as little pain as possible. Don’t we all want that? To be able to physically do what we want?  Flip that and ask yourself – what if I couldn’t get out of bed tomorrow morning and just walk to the kitchen? Ah – that’s where self-care and fitness enters.

WHY

The idea to trek the Himalayas arose from a blog about a man who hiked for 29 days with extraordinary physical results.  He reduced from 13% to 5% body fat.  It made me wonder if the results would be the same for a woman. I had done long treks before but never quantified the results. I decided that a 20-day trek in the Himalayas, using Dexafit biostatistics to track my results, might be a solution to reclaim my fitness.

THE STATS

As I start, I weigh 138 lbs at 5’6”. This may not sound too bad, however, body composition is more important than the number on the scale. This is where Dexafit testing comes in. I have lost 4 lbs of muscle this year and gained 3 lbs of fat. I currently sit at 24.4% body fat – up 3 percentage points from last summer at 21% and 7 points from the summer before, when I was at 17%. These are trends I want to reverse. And fast.

My resting heart rate is at 40 which is low. My VO2 Max, a gauge of my body’s ability to use oxygen for intense exercise is at 56, which rates as “superior” for 20-29 year old women. I guess this was my one shining star, as it has been hard earned through my past 5 years of endurance training for various events. My metabolic efficiency is good – I have a “fast” metabolism (17% faster than “expected” compared with others my age), and I’m getting 53% of my energy from fat, and 47% from carbs.

Blood draw in a random parking lot to get bio stats completed!

The metabolism rate surprised me. Then again, I’m a muscular build; not wispy thin.  Studies show that a pound of muscle burns 3x more calories than a pound of fat. While many of us don’t gravitate to pumping iron, it becomes essential to good aging, both for metabolic benefits as well as strength to support mobility. Side bennie – you can enjoy more food!

I will re-test all of this, upon return from Nepal as well as my hormone levels – such as Cortisol (stress hormone), Estrogen, Testosterone and more.

MY PLAN

My expectation is to lean up (lose body fat), increase VO2 Max and lower my resting heart rate further. I will likely not gain muscle, as the Nepalese diet is mostly rice and legumes with little protein. Protein is required for muscle building.

I have also committed to eliminate refined sugar and alcohol from my diet for 30 days. Ok – lets be honest………..this is because I can’t GET sugar and alcohol in Nepal!

Stay tuned and I’ll keep you posted on the trials and tribulations, plus excitement of climbing to 18,000 feet, where oxygen is at 50% of street level and the temperatures reach (-10 degrees).

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