Top 5 Tips to Gain fat and lose muscle (and the antidotes) PLUS cute puppy photos…
You read the title right. Gain fat. Lose Muscle. Why don’t we add losing your memory and concentration, and perhaps losing some bone density too? Scared? How about if I told you that these Top 5 tips have been taken from my own personal experiment – one that involved the cutest puppy you’d ever seen?
You see, a few months ago, a new little piece of happiness, joy and excitement entered my world. She was fluffy, cuter than a baby polar bear, and delightfully friendly.
On the flip-side, she napped constantly, but didn’t sleep any long amount of time, day or night. For a little while, I thought she might be attempting Tim Ferriss’ Uberman sleep schedule.
Seeing that she was fed and played with took some extra energy, that I hadn’t needed previously. My routine adjusted quickly – a small puppy has a way of letting you know if you’re slipping.
But it wasn’t play time that led me to writing this post – it was bed time.
The Harsh Reality
It all started the second night we had her. Bedtime came around, but it become more and more clear that little Peach wasn’t too interested in sleeping. At a loss a few hours later, I ended up sleeping the night on the couch, with her finally settling down lying on top of me.
The next night was better, with her in a box on the bed, however the concern of the little pup leaving more than hair on the covers prompted a full-scale research assignment the next day.
Tired, confused and concerned, a solution, of sorts, was found. To teach this little one her house-manners, in quick time, the strategy called for ambushing her bladder, day and night, so that she got the message it as the humans who decided when bathroom break would be, not her natural instincts. It sounded like a great plan – help her to realize that there are good, and less good times to go for a bathroom break. As an indoor dog, she was going to need to learn this pretty quickly, especially as it was coming in to winter and a small puppy hanging around outdoors wasn’t on the cards.
So we began the evening with her scheduled bathroom break, and we took away the food and water.
But it didn’t stop there.
Now came the task of setting the alarms – all 5 of them – over night.
So, the first would ring at 11.30pm, then the next at 1.15am. Then 3am, 4.45am, and then finally at 6.30am. The pattern followed a 1 hour, 45 minute schedule – 15 minutes shorter than her expected bladder capacity of 2 hours. The shorthand for puppies’ bladders, I learned, is the number of months of age, equalling the number of hours they’d normally wait between breaks. So a 3 month old pup would wait 3 hours. But little Peach was just under 2 months..
The alarms start ringing
The first night seemed like some exciting project. Getting up wasn’t so bad, it was even a bit fun to see the stars in the middle of the night, and hear the owls in the trees. Peach was taking to the getting up well, and she was even going back to sleep pretty easily.
The following night was a little more gruelling, with some harder moments getting her to sleep again, but still no ‘accidents’ in between pee breaks.
Fast forward a week, and the time delay was out to 2 hours, 15 minutes. This was nearing 4 alarms, instead of 5 – a win for all concerned.
The result was already apparent though – Despite the fact that I was getting, in total, around 8 to 9 hours of sleep per night, I felt absolutely exhausted, and the cravings were starting to come in.
After 2 weeks, bed time was more of a milestone in an otherwise unending, continuous time continuum. No more were days separated, they sort of flowed into each other, never giving me a chance to feel fully ‘reset’ or rested.
3 weeks down and Peach was going very well with her breaks. She was out to 3 hours, which, depending on evening schedules, meant 2 or 3 alarms per night, instead of 5. This seemed like heaven, but some damage had definitely been done – I was already in new routines of eating more during the day, and drinking more coffee.
I was working feverishly on a product that’s very important to me, and close to my heart, and one that I didn’t want to let slip behind schedule. So, I was finding ways of continuing on, despite my feelings of exhaustion.
After a full month of nightly wake up calls, it seemed pretty easy to deal with. It was the norm. I no longer dreaded the alarm ringing, it was simply part of life. That said, so was the daily coffee rituals, and the chaotic thoughts which were getting more difficult to assemble and arrange. Work continued, but testing now became so necessary that it used up more time.
6 weeks down and Peach was looking good. She had now stretched her abilities to lasting half the night. This meant just 1 nightly alarm, and otherwise a longer sleep, which was a fantastic change. The impact of this change, though, didn’t kick in quick enough.
By this point, my energy for the gym had disappeared, and I was finding it harder to keep my workout routine. On top of that, coffee had replaced green tea on some mornings, and was almost a necessity in the afternoon. Meals had given way to more convenient options, and I found myself with a very nasty (and expensive) low-carb protein bar habit, which seemed like the only thing I could eat to keep my energy levels up. Despite including large slow carb meals during my work days, they just left me craving more food. I never felt satisfied with what I’d eaten, like I could always use more.
Then it hit. The moment of truth. Around 6 weeks after getting her, I went to the gym for the first time in a few weeks. I’m not one to spend hours staring at myself in the mirror, but I do use mirrors to ensure correct posture and movement in my lifts, especially with free weights.
My jacket came off, and there it was – the proof that I’d hoped wouldn’t be there. My arms were noticeably smaller, and less defined. To add salt to the wound, though it was to be expected, I had lost considerable strength. Jumping on the scales, to my horror I had lost a staggering 9 pounds (though some was due to going off creatine).
What could be worse?
Fat. Extra fat around my middle that wasn’t there previously. I had lost weight on the scale, lost strength, and gained fat.
My happy, playful addition to my house had left me in a state of constant stress. Of course, it wasn’t her fault at all – it was that I failed to plan for her arrival, and didn’t have the habits to support me managing the changes in routine.
What about those Top 5 Tips??
Ok, well by now I’m sure you’d like to avoid this fate, but first we’ll have a look at the top 5 tips to gain fat and lose muscle, then I’ll give you the Top 5 Antidotes!
- Disrupt your sleeping patterns nightly. Preferably with multiple waking moments, at different times.
- Have something random in your environment that requires constant attention but is ultimate out of your control
- Follow your cravings for junky food and coffee
- Abandon healthy eating habits and foods in favor of convenience and ease
- Don’t bother to plan any antidotes or offensive strategies to avoid these problems
But stress, often times these days, is more of a negative, and can be more constant.
With stress comes cortisol, and if this is constantly high, it can lead to all kinds of health problems. Not just fat gain and muscle loss, but loss of bone density and reduced immune system. So, we need to make sure that cortisol is kept to being a visitor to our systems, rather than a house guest that lives on your couch, eats all your food and leaves muddy shoe prints down the hallway.
Let’s knock cortisol out of the park!
Top 5 Antidotes
- Sleep is the cheapest supplement around, and can be even cheaper when you think about all the expensive medical bills that could add up from years of getting too little sleep. It’s especially important to get adequate sleep, and around the same time each night too. So, think about ways your routine can help you sleep enough, and be properly rested for what you need to get done. Also consider what’s necessary to get done, and what’s on your ‘nice to do’ list, or what’s just a bad habit that needs to get canned.
- If you have something, like work, that is always there, and always worrying you, you need to reset your expectations a little. Focus on being concerned for your actions, not for the more far-reaching results. It’s important that your actions are aimed at getting the results required, however you limit of concern, or worry, should stop where your actions do. Only think over what you can influence – that’s you yourself, and no further. If the guy in Accounting is a douchebag, but you have to deal with him every day, find a way to feel OK with the effort you’re making, and leave him in your dust. Don’t even get involved in his event, simply do what you need to, and move on. If you find yourself planning strategies that have a long-reaching effect, but with limited true control over the outcome, focus on feeling good about being well researched and knowledgable. This allows you to feel confident with your actions, but not get wrapped up in things that are out of your reach of influence. If your clients are crazy, or mad, or demanding, don’t buy into their unrealistic expectations of you, or your business, your product or even the general public and how the world works. Some people just don’t understand how things are, but you don’t need to become involved in their crazy ideas to be able to service them.
- Cravings for junk food and coffee generally mean you’re low on energy. You’re drained. Think about sleep, but also plan some relaxation and recovery times. Active relaxation, like yoga, or meditation can be as good as a couple of hours of sleep for your system, and can reduce stress by large amounts.
- If you’re shooting for convenience over healthy eating, chances are you might (perhaps secretly) feel like you have absolutely no time whatsoever in your week. Do everything you can to find an hour to take a step back and really look at your routines, and your habits. Odds are you’re just stuck in some patterns that are occupying your time or your mind. If you can’t free your mind, try repeating the work ‘Thankyou’ to yourself, slowly, whenever you remember to. Convenience foods are a downward cycle – as they don’t generally provide you with the energy you need to keep going, so you crave them more. Get out of the cycle and feel better by eating fresh foods and ones you’re made yourself.
- Failing to plan truly is planning to fail. If you have a big project coming up at work, or if you have a change in lifestyle or environment that’s going to throw your sleep patterns out of whack, then plan for it. These times are even more important to get good sleep, eat good food, cover your vitamin and mineral bases, and have times to relax. Exercise too is a great stress reliever.
Consider all the ways you can reduce stress levels. Take a class – just 1 hour per week in art, painting, drama, dance, photography, book club, yoga, tai chi, meditation, walking, volunteering, and lots of other things have the effect of giving you energy, not taking it away. Put a little effort in, and get a big reward.
Also think about your environment, and try to find a way to include nature in your day somehow. Even a photograph on a wall that you can look into has been shown to reduce stress levels.
Of course, at the end of the day, its about finding what works for you. But make it a priority to have your strategies for counteracting the stresses in your life. It’s important that this is something you think about, as much as the grocery shopping, or your work deadlines, or anything else that’s a high priority. The difference is that thinking about this can make all those other things easier. For me, I realized that getting to the gym is a stress relief, as much as a stress. I also decided to go a little easier on my working schedule, and change my expectations. I got back to healthy eating routines, and together with a little more stable sleeping routine, have found that I’m back on the road to feeling good, and having my stress levels low.
Do you have a tip or an idea? Leave a comment below and share it!