On Life

Fighting Fit

I spent a little time recently putting myself back together.

Sweat Angel.
Sweat Angel.

Last year, I spent far too many hours working, and far too many hours on a plane.  Many things suffered, including health and fitness.  Fixing this was a high priority for me, because looking manly is … well, you know.  And aside from that, we all want to be a survivor in the zombie apocalypse rather than a food source.

Anyway.

One of the things I didn’t have a handle on was why I had so much trouble.  I mean, sure, gut feel says being on a plane and working 50 hour weeks sucks balls, but what specific bits cause weight gain, lack of sleep, lack of energy, and so on?  Intuition goes a long way, but data helps to make better decisions.

Yeah yeah, this is how I justified buying a Fitbit.

I’ve learned a bunch of things.

  1. Putting a foot on a plane, even for a couple hours a day (one hour each way) results in about a 2kg weight gain.  This takes a couple days to come right.
  2. Any early start (think: red eye) applies an energy impact that kills another extra day of workout performance (that is, weights I can lift, endurance I have, heart rate maximums I can hit).  This applies to a lesser extent to late finishes.

There are other vectors, many of them, but the short answer is that long hours and travel really fucks with you.  I got this emotionally but I’ve got data now – beautiful graphs showing all manner of things provide evidence.  The net effect of this is new structures for exercise, looking after myself, and being a bit more militant about my time.

As a related note, I’ve also learned that the heart rate sensor in the Fitbit is wildly inaccurate while doing weights or circuits, but is great for resting, walking, or running (regular / rhythmic activity).  I tried an Apple Watch which was worse.  I’d like to try a Microsoft Band too, but getting access to one where someone’s willing to let me sweat on it for a while is tricky (and it’s a little bit too expensive for a casual purchase).