Peter - the walking stranger

The story of how I became a dedicated brisk walker


A dedication

I would like to dedicate this little article to all the people who do not like the look in the mirror and want to do something about it. Been there, done that - I feel you! Let’s go!




A few words of awareness and encouragement


I think it is fair to say that most of us were very physically active during their early childhood. I envision the ages 2-7 when saying this. Then something very interesting and challenging happens. They call it school. It is full of excitement, desire to succeed, homework and (last, but last indeed) some physical education. The country I grew up in (Bulgaria) probably has the least interest in keeping kids fit during school hours and if memory serves me right PE was something along the lines of 1-2 hours per week.

That is school hours of 45 minutes.

After that you are pushed to succeed and go to a nice highschool, where the PE doesn't get much better. It stays the same, but your assignments get bigger and you begin to chase the grades, so that you can go to a nice university. The latter will not be your best pal in making you a ripped individual either, but at least it will provide you with more options for sports.

Naturally, if you happen to lose your fitness there is no one to blame but yourself. However, it is my opinion that we must encourage all sorts of physical activity for our children during school, highschool and university, so that they develop a strong sense of fitness and do not lose touch with their physicality. Something, which did not quite happen for me, and which I had to overcome at a fairly recent point in my life.


There are some articles [1] and some studies[2][3] to support my statement (just to name a few here - I don’t mean to compile an exhaustive list) and I would love for you to check them out. Stil, it does not take a scientific eye to see that there is in fact an alarming number of overweight children in the street these days. Or perhaps it is just me, because I pay a lot of attention to that aspect of life right now.


Insofar as encouragement goes. If you decide to go with it, then I must inform you upfront that the road is seemingly long and bumpy, your feet will ache and you will not love it every single day for at least 20-30 days (if I remember correctly a habit is built for 21 days and can get destroyed within an hour, but don’t quote me on that - look it up first). So please take that time and use it to build the habit of walking a lot daily. After that you will begin to reap the benefits of what you went through pretty fast. You CAN do it if you WANT TO do it. So take on the challenge. I will cheer for you all the way! I promise!



(If this does not get you off the couch/chair/bed, IDK what will)


How did it all happen for me?


During the times of the pandemic… Oh, God we have heard enough of that! We had to stay longer at home. Agree? Closer to our friend, the fridge, closer to all the sweets and extra calories one can imagine, right? So the temptation was there, no doubt.

Our willpower (mine especially) was weak and I ate way too much. The interesting thing is, however, (and that is something, which took me by surprise back then and still is kind of unclear to this day) that we pretty much stopped doing ANY sports.


Okay, gyms were kind of obvious - the dude pushing 200 kilos of iron and 5 kilos of saliva all over the place right next to you probably was a good source of chances to get the virus - YEP, BUDDY. These had to go away for a while (bad for the business though), but how about a colleague of mine, who said he stopped MOUNTAIN BIKING, which is a sport where you bike on the mountain, like alone all the time. Where is the direct contact in that?

I also cannot help but think that I am biased to support the exact model described in the words of awareness section above. As a kid I used to climb the highest trees and run all day long, then my activity reduced massively during school and university years and long story - short at one point (I think it was 4 years ago) I tipped the scale at 132 kilograms (not of muscle though).



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(Cliche waggon alert here) Then I decided enough was enough and it was up to me to change my game, otherwise it will go pretty bad pretty quick.


The humble beginnings


To get back in shape from 132 kilos and a pretty decent white sugar addiction (whoooops I mean consumption) is not by far the simplest of things, as it requires a lot of effort, mainly on staying away from trash food and not overeating.


To kick things off, I read a great book, as recommended by my father in law, who also lost 30+ kilos of weight, following the nutritional guides described by a gentleman who lost massive amounts of weight (I am putting a reference to this book under [4]. I do not know if it is available in English, but I will be talking about the nucleus of ideas below, so you will get the hang of it. I am sure). So credit must be given, where credit is due. The body transformation of my father in law gave me a massive boost to get started too. He kept on talking to me about what he read in this book: how if your diet is dominated by fatty foods (for instance butter and fermented (e.g. less lactose) dairy products), then the pancreas will not be working that hard at all (it is not pumping you full of insulin as fat does not require insulin regulation) and hence the so-called “bad because they are greasy” foods are a great choice as eating them does not lead to the worst consequence of higher insulin levels (insulin resistance [5]). Also, speaking about real - life inspirations I cannot skip mentioning the birth of my tso children (a girl and then a boy) and my great mentors in getting fit David Bone (who is an absolute ultra-marathon legend and climbs mountains like a feisty goat) and Stefan Minchev (who is a seriously powerful gym lifter and has the one of the greatest sayings ever, which is stuck in my brain forever: “One is greater than zero! Go lift some weights, mate!”).


So a very quick summary of what drives you to lose fat is the following: The body always tries to stock up on energy. If you eat a lot of carbohydrates (like sweets and what not) and you do not stimulate the growth hormone production (for example you do a job you truly hate, and stresses you out), the body will pile up everything in the form of fat as it tries to protect you from harm, hunger and life in general.


This fat, however, WILL NOT get burned straight away. The body will hold on to it to the bitter end (well that is an overstatement), but at least to the point where it has nothing else left to cover its energy expenditure. This is why you need to kick down the blood sugar levels, which in turn will moderate the insulin secretion from the pancreas, and also (if your diet allows it) to get the fasting going. [4] and [6] both make a fantastic example of what happens when you begin to fast regularly. The nutshell of it is that your stomach (and the rest of the body for that matter) finally stops processing food all the time and actually recuperates from this slow and energy-consuming process.

A good experiment, I would highly recommend is: consult your doctor first, then if the light is green get up in the morning, drink your coffee and your water (very important drink a lot of water), then simply skip breakfast. Interesting name, high? Break-fast, e.g. to break your fasting. (Perhaps it is an indication to the old saying to leave the dinner to your enemy). This will give you the following day (assuming you had dinner at 19:00 and stopped ingesting food circa 20:00 and that lunch is set at 13:00 sharp the next day):

  • From 20:00 to 13:00 the next day = 4 + 13 = 17 hours of fasting;

  • Better energy through the morning (the most important and productive part of the day);

  • Lighter feeling in the stomach;

  • Less will to overeat.

It has been proven that if you fast (e.g. do not ingest food) for more than 12 hours, your body begins to unload itself from processing food all the time. If you did 17 hours this would mean 12 hours to stop food processing + 5 beneficial hours in fasting, and that is great. This also means that the growth hormone production will be stimulated [6] and that if you train during this time, you will have the best results possible as muscle grows when stimulated properly, not when you push it to the point of tearing.


Try this and drop me a line on how it went. I would love to know! Then there are more stages to this, such as the 4-hour feeding window and the final form of it OMEAD (One Meal A Day). These I have not yet tried, but judging from the fantastic results I get by not having breakfast and putting lunch back at circa 14:00, I am confident that the other practices will work too.

So I lost a few kilos by fasting. It was time to put myself back on track with some training. Ambitious as I am, I went running. Not my thing (too much pain in the feet). Probably has to do with the height/weight ratios. Then I got fired up on something really cool [7]. To get into the groove of it, you better figure out you are The Man himself and that you love “DA PUMP” - trust me it helps a lot.




This fitness method gave me a lot of energy and a new boost in fat loss. I also managed to pull some serious performance from my legs, which reached 225 kg on the leg press and 160 kg on the deadlift (both for reps of 10). A special word of gratitude goes to my company Looming Tech for implementing a really cool system of benefits [8] where you can pick what benefit you want within a set budget. This is how I got my fitness pass, which I am not changing for anything.


Currently


Since I got to be a dad^2, I am not visiting the gym that much to be honest. This is why I went for another type of funcraft - brisk walking. There are a number of sources I can quote here on how brisk walking can burn as many calories as running (depending on the intensity, body mass, metabolic rate, lifestyle, etc.). To illustrate the point, I chose a reliable source, the NHS [9] and a video material [10].

I cannot speak highly enough of walking and its benefits. It is a lifesaver to me. It requires literally 0 equipment (except for a good pair of shoes and an occasional umbrella). It can be done in any time and place and if you put your back into it, the sweat tends to pour pretty much out of everywhere. It can be somewhat intimidating if you meet me walking, as I produce a distinct clicking noise with my keychain, and I walk at about 8 kph, so I am almost running at that point. Some people turn to see who is approaching them - that is all I am saying here. OK!?!? (well that escalated quickly)


The science behind the brisk walking matter


There is a lot you can read about the benefits of walking long distances daily. Some lanes you can pick up are:

  • From evolutionary standpoint;

  • Form fitness standpoint;

  • From mental health standpoint;

As we now live in the era of over-information, I think it is great to take everything with a grain of salt as there is a chance for the information to be misleading or “fake news”. However, if you try to stick to a walking routine, you will see the benefits for yourself without the need of scientific proof. In any case, I have cited here a few of my favorite scientific materials, related to brisk walking (again this is not an exhaustive list of materials and I strongly encourage you to go and find your set of great articles to share and read) [11][12][13].


The new choices I try to stick to


  1. My so-called “diet”: Please, do not take dieting as an “adapt or die” type of thing. I eat some candies here and there, and I also have pancakes for breakfast, and I eat after 20:00, and all of that. It is not a prison, people, it is a contract you need to stick to, because you want to. And you signed that with yourself. No one made you do it, so it is a complete joy, and not a chore. It is the consistency which matters, not how strictly you take your diet. Also, try as hard as you can to get into the so-called caloric deficit. This does not help you at all, it is even detrimental to your health.

  2. Reduce the drinking to 0 (if possible): I try not to drink alcohol anymore. It works most of the time. Again - do not feel bad if you enjoyed a glass of wine with your friends, just don’t get to the slavic yoga positions:


Like so…


  1. Fasting: As I spoke earlier - I aim for my last daily meal to be at 20:00 and lunch at 14:00 the next day. This (if met properly) gives me a 16/8 ratio and keeps my stomach very happy. I feel light on my feet and energetic. It may be a placebo, but I think my cognitive ability has increased too.

  2. Walk daily: A great question to ask yourself is “How far did I walk today?”. If the answer to that is not “Far enough, I did X km!”, then it is time to step it up. Do not be afraid of the conditions outside the rain does not bite, so doesn’t snow. It is just water falling from the sky - nothing more.


The results (because everybody loves numbers)


So this has been my journey into fitness so far. I love every bit of it and I certainly am grateful for the amazingly nurturing environment I have been lucky enough to stumble upon. Thank you to all my mentors and role models.

Thank you to my company for taking good care of me, thank you to my ankles for enduring me stepping hard on the gas pedal and almost running while I walk and thank you for reading along. I really do appreciate that my words are out there and may inspire you to become a super-walker of a GVT enthusiast too.

In any case, we live in a comparative world and we love some good numbers to get a perspective on the very least. As this GVT/walking business has been my kind of thing ever since I bought my new phone in May 2021, I would now love to share some of my achievements during this period.


GVT: This training routine got me some great results. I worked my legs super hard and braced them for the big walk. As I said, I covered the elite male on leg press, and some other regular milestones. However, as suggested in [6] in order to skip joint pain later on, I now save some money to purchase a resistance band - based training system. It may not be the X3 bar though (as it costs $ 700, which is a lot). We shall see about that.

Brisk Walking: Since I bought the shiny new phone I have and kinda love (because you can’t love objects, right?), I have logged a whopping 2647 kilometers over 435 days of use, which almost meets my norm at 7 km/day (6.09 km/day currently to be precise) which is also the equivalent of about 62.8 standard maratons or me walking from Sofia, Bulgaria to Madrid, Spain and then some.

This also can be translated to a grand total of 3 352 248 steps (I aim to hit 3 000 000 steps this year alone) and a calorie burn of 151 688 calories (which is the equivalent of a truck load of chicken drumsticks, because this is what the app tells me). This year alone, I managed to get more than half of these stats as I am stepping up my walking game. So far I stand on 1 907 370 steps, which are the equivalent of 1538.1 km and 88 595 calories (which for those of you wondering is 1 772 eggs - crazy!).


I am currently down to 115 kg. For a guy who weighed 132 kg when he held his first child 4 years ago, this seems great progress. Here is the before and after pictures we all like so much:


BEFORE



AFTER














Catch you later


Once again, thank you so much for reading this. I am super happy to share what I have learned and tried along the way. My goal is still kind of far (I want to get to 105 kg) and I still need to walk many more km to get there. The golden bit is hidden in persistence. It will happen for me. Maybe this year, maybe the next one, but I will get there. Until then, I will catch you on the flippidy-flop or our walking paths may coincide. Just listen for the jingle of my keys and you will know I am approaching you.

Keep in mind that I am not a doctor, nor am I a psychiatrist. This post is my personal journey and it is not meant to be, in any way, shape or form a piece of medical advice and you must always consult your doctor before beginning any intense sports activity.


Take care!

Peter,

The walking stranger