I visualized these blogs as a conversational narrative – as though I’m talking to a friend about my journey. So, following that line of thought, since we’ve discussed the diet, in brief, falling off the diet wagon and the emotional cost of weight change, the natural next topic that comes to mind is physical activity. Why don’t we discuss that today?
Should you work out while on diet?
Physical activity, in general, is an important part of life, much needed to make use of the muscles that we don’t get a chance to use, in this modern, sedentary way of living, to rid ourselves of stress, to generally have fun. Exercise should be something that challenges you physically and mentally, gives you joy, or if you’re lucky, both. Personally, as much as I love the low carb way of life, for me it wasn’t enough. I wanted to fast track my inch loss journey. I wanted to ramp up my physical strength and flexibility and tone my body. Diet is key, but one can’t achieve any aesthetically pleasing physical changes naturally without exercise. So, yes, exercise is a must-have in case of fitness goals. What type of exercise, how much and when is a matter of some debate.
What type of exercise is the right one?
The type of exercise regime you want to follow, is entirely a personal choice. I’ve found people doing various things – some go for hikes or jogs, others take the weight training route, still others try cross-fit.
I have tried all three and the one piece of advice I’d give anyone who is just starting out is to start slow, get comfortable with working out regularly, then figure out what is sustainable for you longer term. I jumped on the cross-fit bandwagon when I first started out, and managed to bust my knee trying to do too much too fast, resulting in many months of not being able to work out. So, that’s definitely something to keep in mind – do something that feels like you’re putting in a decent amount of physical effort, but not so much that you hurt yourself.
So, if you’ve been mostly sedentary for a while, start with walking for 30 to 45 minutes. When that gets easier after a few days, increase the time or increase the speed, moving up to a jog perhaps. When that starts feel like less of a challenge, do sprints and brisk walking alternately, maybe add stair climbing to your routine. The possibilities are endless, but changing up the routine is great to keep the body from getting too comfortable.
Also, to workout effectively, one needs to introspect, and figure out what is the ultimate goal and design a workout that can make that goal happen and is adaptable to your improving stamina and strength.
What time should you work out?
I have personally worked out at different times of the day at various points of my life and I can tell you that ultimately, it’s about doing something physical, no matter when. I used to work-out in the gym (both cardio and strength training) in the evening after work earlier. These days, I prefer to get it done and out of the way in the morning, so that the rest of the day is mine. Can’t say that either one is better than the other, but since I work out on an empty stomach these days, mornings just work better for me.
How long should a work-out be?
We all have hectic lifestyles. Making time for one’s fitness goals amongst the myriad responsibilities that we handle can seem impossible, I’ll accept. But, if you want to be healthy so that you can be your best self and fulfill your responsibilities well, you need to make the time.
Conventional wisdom says to work out for at least 1 hour a day, 5-6 days a week in order to achieve your target. That’s not necessarily true, I’ve found. I used to follow this advice for years, under different trainers – workout for an hour at least, feel the fatigue, diet every-day, feel the lack. That shows the world, and yourself, that you are slogging for the desired results. I’ve come to realize that that is not really necessary. One needs some amount of physical activity daily, and needs to balance strength training and cardio in a 3:2 ratio and give your body some proper rest. As the amount of weight you lift increases, the number of reps and sets will actually decrease. I’ve come to realize 5 good quality reps – where you breathe properly, lift in the correct stance and smoothly, beat 25 not so good ones.
If you choose to workout through other activities like dance, again, the key to success is continuous improvement. So, is your form improving, is your stamina?
The one point I have brought up repeatedly in this post is continuous evaluation of the quality of one’s diet and exercise. At no point should one think that one knows it all. Sometimes, when we’ve done something for a while, we think we know everything about it. That kind of thinking caused my inch loss journey to stall for several weeks, until I reached out to friends on keto and my trainer and realized I needed to cut out all the keto desserts that I was gorging on just because they “fit my macros”. Once I did that and made sure to get my 3 days of weight training in weekly, my body started to show results again! That kind of vigilance is something everyone on a fitness journey needs to maintain so that they continue to keep seeing results and growing stronger.
To sum up then, exercise, on keto or any other way of eating, is key to achieving one’s ultimate health goal. One needs to identify activities that one enjoys and will stick to. And it needs to be supplemented with proper rest, proper sleep – 6-8 of sound, undisturbed sleep, and depending on the diet being followed, at least 2 liters of water.
I have seen my body change drastically in the year since I started the low carb life, thanks to following more or less this way of working out. Even when the scale doesn’t move, I can see my clothes fitting better, then getting loose. And I can see my strength increase with time. This combination of a good, healthy, sustainable way of eating combined with an exercise regimen that works is key to physical beauty, mental peace and strength and an overall sense of accomplishment which then flows into other aspects of one’s life. I hope you too can find what works for you, both, in terms of food, and in terms of physical exercise.