I have a new secret lover. His name is Peloton.

Picture of Dr. Jen Kerns

Dr. Jen Kerns

On February 27, a new sexy stranger made his way into my life. Or, more accurately, into my basement. I had never really understood the hype. I enjoyed a spin class here or there back in the day, but was happily attached to my daily elliptical workout that I’d been doing for years (as outlined in my previous post about my old exercise routine). I became pelocurious in January as I neared the end of my 3-month drama-filled tryst with sugar and was feeling like I needed to get my shit together, up the ante on improving my health, and really start focusing on my brain health. I had heard someone say on a podcast somewhere that high intensity interval training (HIIT) may be particularly important for carriers of the APOE4 Alzheimer’s risk gene, and knew that I’d have an easier time getting in more intense cardio intervals with running or spinning than I was with my elliptical. Running is a pure joy for me, but sadly, I have pretty severe degenerative disc disease with lumbar spinal stenosis, herniated one of my lumbar discs a couple years ago while chasing after Graham one day, and have been advised not to do high impact weight-bearing exercise like running anymore. So spinning it was.

I went to the local Peloton showroom in Bethesda on January 28 and did a test ride on their newest version of the bike, the Bike+. I loved that it would sync with my Apple Watch to display my heart rate in real time on the screen. I loved that it had an “auto-follow” feature that would automatically adjust the resistance on my bike as the instructor called out changes. I was sold.

A month later, my new bike was delivered and assembled for me. I had some growing pains and had to buy a gel seat cover to help ease the pain in my sit bones. I had to adjust the seat a notch higher after developing knee pain, and that helped. I started to have much more intense low back pain (I think a combination of my usual QL pain being exacerbated and the new addition of significant psoas pain) as I drove my body to perform in a new way and at higher intensity than it had in years.  But that didn’t stop me. I became driven to get on that damn bike every. Single. Morning. Damned if my back pain would stop me.

After I had the pleasure of speaking to Dr. Isaacson of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Cornell, he suggested that, for the goal of increasing my lean muscle mass and decreasing my body fat, I add in two strength training sessions every week and only do two high intensity workouts each week with the remainder of my exercise being lower intensity endurance exercise (with the goal of keeping my heart rate in zone 2, which for me is between about 104 and 120 beats per minute). With the Peloton, I found myself having to hide the leaderboard when I was supposed to be taking endurance rides or keeping my heart rate in zone 2, because if I watched the leaderboard I inevitably wanted to be competitive and crank up my resistance to achieve a higher output than that one person ahead of me. That wasn’t that big of a deal, but when I strained my knee last week doing a body weight strength class with Olivia @oamato, I didn’t stop to rest. The next morning I couldn’t help myself: I got back on the bike and rode. I started a HIIT ride and it completely killed my knee, so I had to delete the workout and do a recovery ride. (God forbid I just take the day off and REST.) A day or two later I reinjured the same knee somehow while I was stretching, and yet I keep getting back on that bike every morning. I really love the workout I get, love picking classes with music that I haven’t heard in decades, and love the funny comments my favorite instructor @Denis__Morton says in response to the saccharine lyrics in Chicago’s ballad “Look Away” (“I’m not cryin’… you’re cryin’. Those aren’t tears — that’s sweat” as he wipes the fake tears from his eyes). After I chuckled out loud at that, Denis became my guy. He does a great job of helping you with proper posture/form and his yogi nature comes through. I love his 80s and 90s rides and power zone rides, and even his post-ride stretches. My psoas pain decreased dramatically after I started stretching my hips better! I keep telling myself I should take a week off and rest my knee, but I just can’t seem to make that happen. Yep, it’s official: I have a new addiction.

If you’re a Peloton junky like I am, follow me on the bike: KernsBurns. (Yes, I know it’s cheesy. Live with it.) We can exercise together, apart!

As for #Project135, my weight was up a bit last week and back down again today. My weight over the past 6-7 weeks since starting on my Peloton is evidence that exercise alone doesn’t produce weight loss. It stimulates appetite, so unless you are really paying attention to your food intake, your weight won’t move much with exercise alone. I’ve been burning hundreds more calories every day, but likely eating more, too. I am also newly trying to add muscle to my body with strength training, and of course any change from fat loss will be offset by muscle gain and won’t be reflected on the scale, so a follow-up InBody scan to test my body composition will be helpful for me. But I do have a good 10 or 12 pounds of fat to lose, so I would expect my weight to drift down even as I build a little muscle. I think it’s time for me to try to break back into the 140s again!

Project 135 stats:

Starting weight: 159.6 (May 2020)
Week 1: 157.2
Week 2: 155.6
Week 3: 155.4
Week 4: 153.8
Week 8: 150.8
Week 12: 150.8
Week 17: 155.2 (after sugar binges)
Week 19: 153.8
Week 25: 146.6
Week 26: 148.2 (after Halloween candy)
Week 28: 146.6
Week 29: 148.8 (after Thanksgiving)
Week 30: 148.4
Week 31: 149.0
Week 32: 152.2
Week 33: 153.0 (after Christmas)
Week 37: 153.8 (January 2021: Started intuitive eating experiment)
Week 38.5: 160.8 (on Feb 1, 2021 -> the experiment failed! Go back to NSNF)
Week 40: 156.4Week 42: 151.6
Week 44: 153.0
Week 45: 154.4
Week 46: 152.4
Week 48: 151.0
Week 50: 151.0

Total weight loss: 8.6 pounds (5.4%)


You guys stay well this week, and see you on the Peloton! 😆
Love, Jen




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