Better still? Optimal Weight

Ideal, is a big clue as to where optimal is, but is no guarantee one isn’t skinny fat. Thus if your body is far from a razor’s edge, a rough-cut file is the tool of choice to get started. But once you’re within maybe 3 or 5% of ideal, it becomes less certain which direction you need to go so as to continue increasing strength, power, and stamina. At that point I’ve found it helps to really listen to your body, and think of what it needs, and how it reacts, to continue getting stronger. With the bodyweight exercise of M5, if you are losing weight (the weight you must lift) and not improving reps at the same time, that’s a big clue that you are losing muscle. Likewise if you think gaining muscle is what you need, usually a good thought, you’ll know if that’s working because more muscle increases reps, more fat decreases them.

My experience with Ideal and Optimal Weight

When I was plateauing on my reps, right about ideal weight, which for me, at 5’10” is 166 pounds, I had to check myself and think, “what do I need to do to continue to improve? What will further my progress?” The answer always seems to be more muscle, less fat, with balanced muscle development needed everywhere. However, with just 5 minutes of bodyweight training in M5, and the high rep count and speed of L3, “more muscle” and what’s optimal turns out to be much closer to ideal weight than heavyweight, but as I adjust my weight I know, and can feel, that I’m targeting my optimal, not some formula.

So what’s my optimal weight? Now it seems 170.0 lb. or four pounds over “ideal” is optimal for my physique. I was actually surprised that it was a little above, and not a little below ideal.

Working with others, Ideal is rarely exactly optimal but it’s really close. So far it has not been more that 5-7% different, but if anyone out there has a different experience I would love to hear about it.



Problems I see with Body Mass Index (BMI)

  1. The oft cited complaint is that BMI often lists you as overweight, even if it’s increased muscle mass that has you weighing heavy, which is true sometimes. My complaint, with this complaint, is that it is used to fool oneself about being fat (I know cause I did it) by telling yourself it’s mostly muscle. A look at the heavyweight division in weightlifting and powerlifting shows one can easily have both a lot of muscle, and a lot of artery hardening fat at the same time. While probably not as bad as fat, making the heart pump blood through excessive slabs of muscle might not be the best for longevity either.
  2. BMI is not a target but a broad range, and even so it’s hard enough math to require staring for a long time at a chart, or looking up an online calculator.
  3. BMI is abstract. Hearing your BMI is 27.4 sounds “whatever,” and something you still need to look up to know what it means.
  4. Overweight people who target BMI’s “healthy weight” of 18.5 to 24.9 almost never aim for “dead-center-healthy” of 21.7, rather they aim for “just-barely-not-fat” with a BMI of 24.9 thinking they’re good. Run the numbers you’ll likely agree that barely “healthy” is usually still kinda chunky.
  5. Generous as BMI is, people, even physicians, still mess it up, at least if my patients are reliable witnesses (admittedly a sketch assumption). One woman told me her doctor said she needs to lose 20 pounds, and I said, “see this chart, you’ll still be obese” at which point she cried. A man said, “my doctor says he wants me at 220 lb., anything less and I’ll look malnourished,” and incredulously I said, “that’s still 30 pounds overweight!” At least he didn’t cry.

The voyage had begun, and had begun happily with a soft blue sky, and a calm sea.

They followed her on to the deck. All the smoke and the houses had disappeared, and the ship was out in a wide space of sea very fresh and clear though pale in the early light. They had left London sitting on its mud. A very thin line of shadow tapered on the horizon, scarcely thick enough to stand the burden of Paris, which nevertheless rested upon it. They were free of roads, free of mankind, and the same exhilaration at their freedom ran through them all.

The ship was making her way steadily through small waves which slapped her and then fizzled like effervescing water, leaving a little border of bubbles and foam on either side. The colourless October sky above was thinly clouded as if by the trail of wood-fire smoke, and the air was wonderfully salt and brisk. Indeed it was too cold to stand still. Mrs. Ambrose drew her arm within her husband’s, and as they moved off it could be seen from the way in which her sloping cheek turned up to his that she had something private to communicate.


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Grouped

1

If you currently have spine pain start with SpineFitYoga’s Posture-5 (P5) alone, for at least a few days…

You can maybe see that if possible I like to name my programs so that I can remember what parameters are in them. For example “10-50-10” means it’s 10 seconds on (of stimulation), 50 seconds of rest, for a total treatment time of 10 minutes. The following EMS program “5-15-10” is 5 seconds on, 15 seconds “off” or rest, for a total of 10 minutes.


Ungrouped

1

If you currently have spine pain start with SpineFitYoga’s Posture-5 (P5) alone, for at least a few days…

You can maybe see that if possible I like to name my programs so that I can remember what parameters are in them. For example “10-50-10” means it’s 10 seconds on (of stimulation), 50 seconds of rest, for a total treatment time of 10 minutes. The following EMS program “5-15-10” is 5 seconds on, 15 seconds “off” or rest, for a total of 10 minutes.



Intermittent Fasting (IF)

I’ve never really thought of myself as a diet person. With degrees in Exercise Science and Physical Therapy, I have always thought training was more important. Also I came at exercise from the thin side, starting weight training as a teenager, who was 37 lb underweight (105 pounds at 5’6″). So I understand the desire and what it takes to bulk up with bodybuilding and weightlifting, but never so much what it takes to lose weight. But it’s truth that time does becomes limited as life’s responsibilities grow, and after some injuries prevented me from lifting weight like I would like, I became overweight, and not the muscular kind, and I thought, “OK, I guess this is how it is.”

However, reading the research I review below, “Eat Less for More Muscle,” it woke me to the health, and still MUSCLE GAINING benefits of Intermittent Fasting. As of now, I have been doing IF continuously since 2015, so I’m pretty good at it. I’ve tried many variations, I know what to expect, what makes IF easier, harder, work and not work. I was doing IF the entire time I was developing SpineFitYoga, including when SpineFitYoga evolved from just Spine Rehab, into a total body strength and stamina system. As I made SpineFitYoga ever faster and more efficient, culminating in SpineFitYoga Muscle-5 (M5), my 5-minute exercise program, I had to get my fasting more on point. Incorporating several ideas together, I came up with the idea of Protein Sparing Intermittent Fasting (PSIF). I wanted to see, “what can ultimately be done” muscle and fitness wise, with only 5 minutes of exercise. psIF, so far, being what I have found to be the best synergy.

From my old physical therapy blog I wrote a fair amount on IF, but three articles stand out and are listed below.

But before going further I think it’s worth pointing that I don’t think everyone should do IF. If you are already at or near optimal weight, and you are happy with your diet, and it’s healthy, congratulations because that that’s a hard thing to do these days. Thus I’m not comfortable telling you anything that might unbalance what’s a finely tuned machine. IF is what works best for me, and I think it’s what will work best for a lot of people who have failed at regular dieting, and who want to eat typical American portions and not look like it. However, if you are not one of us ‘disordered eaters,’ I wouldn’t worry about it, and would focus on the other components of SpineFitYoga, either for neck and back pain relief, with P5 and M5, or total body strength, power, and stamina training with just M5 by itself.

Likewise if one is underweight, M5 should help gain strength and muscle without any big dietary changes other than maybe increasing calories and protein. I really don’t know if IF is good for gaining muscle mass if you are underweight. I know it CAN work, as I have successfully bulked with a 4-hour eating window, just to see if I could. But I don’t know that IF would be my first choice for others. I wouldn’t say not to either, but if you desire, test and see using the scale, ideal, optimal weight, and M5 performance as your guides.

I like to think of SpineFitYoga as a modular Gestalt. A system where the whole is certainly better than the sum of its parts, but if some of your parts, like diet are already good to go, there is not a lot to gain by focus on that aspect. On the contrary if you think IF can help you, or you’re just curious, the following are my more important blogs (all free) and psIF (member only content, that’s only $20 for a year, with M5 and P5 included).


Eat Less for More Muscle

This is the research that opened my eyes. I had heard caloric restriction was a healthy thing and made animals live longer but thought that was at the expense of being smaller, thinner, frailer animals (monkeys in this case). This I thought was obvious because in my years as a weightlifter and bodybuilder I had always eaten more to grow bigger and stronger. It turns out that caloric restriction and fasting work by making each individual cell healthier and age slower, and this includes muscle cells. Such that older monkeys who ate LESS had substantially MORE muscle mass.


Simply put, what you need to know

1

Spine flexion (aka forward bending/stretching) a normal everyday movement, when taken too far, held too long, or done too often, with insufficient recovery is the number one cause of neck and back pain.

Examples of neck forward bending/stretching:

  • looking down at your phone, laptop, or a book
  • looking down at a desk as you write
  • shoulder stand in yoga
  • looking down to do the dishes
  • looking down to watch your step when hiking, particularly down hill (probably this gets worse the fitter you are, as you’ll be inclined to hike further, longer)

Examples of low back forward bending/stretching:

  • bending forward through your spine to touch your toes, tie your shoes, or do a forward fold
  • sitting slouched, or in too large of a chair, with poor lumbar support
  • squatting so deep that your hips tuck under
  • crunches, sit ups, posterior pelvic tilts
  • bending your knees to your chest

Yes I know that many of these things are thought to make neck and spine pain better, but they are the same motions and positions that make spine pain worse. This fact goes a long way towards explaining why spine pain so often becomes chronic despite “doing what you were told.” The good news is, it’s hope for change.

2

Bending the neck or back forward stretches the collagenous tissues on the back of the spine (ligaments and discs) causing micro failure, pain, inflammation.

The body often reacts with muscle muscle spasms to help reduce motion. Muscle spasms are often mistaken as the cause of the pain, and when “stretched out” to relieve them only increases collagenous damage the spasms are there to protect.

3

While other ordinary everyday spine motions (back bends, twists, and side bends) and stresses (compression) can also be overdone, when combined or alternated with forward bends they become particularly damaging, accelerating spine injury.