You Can’t Play With My (Weight-Related) Yo-Yo

For the past eight years, when it comes to exercise and health, I’ve only had two modes—all in, or all out. I have either worked out six days a week and watched my diet with the intensity of a thousand suns, or I’ve sat on the couch and consumed four Cokes a day. As a result, my weight has tended to have massive amounts of fluctuation. I scrape the bottom of 5’9″ on a good day, and when I’m super healthy, I weigh around 160. When I’m not, I weigh around 195.

Three months ago, I was right at that 195 number, literally fat and happy. I had a wonderful job, healthy and content children, finances under control. And then I lost my job. Having that life changing moment made me analyze a great many things about myself. I may have been fat, but I wasn’t happy at all. When I’m overweight, I don’t feel good about myself. I shy away from having my photo taken. I wear loose-fitting clothes. I make a ton of excuses about why I can’t be healthy, but I know that they’re all lies.

Thankfully, I landed on my feet, but I decided to use that massive change in my life to enact another massive change—I started another round of P90X3. New job, new life, new Bark, you know?

I’ve done both P90X and P90X3 several times, with very good results each time. I always drop somewhere between 15-25 lbs, depending on where I start, and I always feel much better about myself and my life by the time the last day of the program rolls around. If you’re not familiar with P90X3, it’s a 90 day, 30 minutes per day workout program. There are three versions—Classic, Lean, and Mass. Since I travel a fair amount for work, I decided to go with the Lean program, as it is mostly cardio and body weight resistance with very little equipment required. I never wanted to have the excuse that I couldn’t work out on any given day because I didn’t have the necessary equipment available.

On the days that I worked from home in Kentucky, I did my workout either early in the morning before the work day started or at the lunch hour. When I traveled, I did it first thing upon returning to the hotel for the day. I annoyed the living hell out my Instagram followers by posting the results from my workouts every single day. With the exception of one weekend where I was traveling, I didn’t skip a single workout.

But I didn’t go crazy—I still had a Coke every now and then. If I felt like a cheeseburger, I had one. I tried intermittent fasting for a couple of weeks, but it made me feel weak and cranky, so I stopped. I never once said to somebody, “Oh, I can’t eat here, I’m on a diet.”

I wore my Fitbit pretty religiously, but I wasn’t worried about step counting. I used it to monitor my heart rate during workouts and to check my resting heart rate every day. Also, the app lets you post results directly to Instagram or other social media channels, which helped me stay accountable. Twice, while traveling, I forgot to bring a Fitbit charger, so I couldn’t use it to track my workouts, but I didn’t let that bother me too much.

The results started coming, slowly but surely. My belt got tighter, clothes got looser. I pulled some of my old size 40 suits out of the back of the closet, and they fit. I intentionally avoided the scale for a long, long time—it takes a few weeks for any real weight loss to happen, and I didn’t want to get discouraged.

Doing some form of cardio every day was mentally challenging. With the exception of the once-a-week Yoga workout, I was elevating my heart rate pretty seriously on a daily basis. I started out doing the modification of each move, but by the end of the third week, I was able to do the regular version of nearly everything. By the end of the tenth week, I was able to do every rep of nearly every move. Each workout was hard—increasing my fitness level just meant that I was able to push myself even harder. It never got easy.


But at the end, it was worth it. I finished the thirteenth and final week seven days ago, and the scale, the same one I had been carefully avoiding the whole time, showed the results. I had gone from 195 to 176, or just about a pound and a half per week.

In years past, I would have celebrated by taking a week off…which would have turned into two weeks, and then three, and then six months to a year later, I’d be fat again, riding the proverbial yo-yo up and down. So I decided that I’d take exactly no time at all off, and I jumped directly into a round of P90X3 Classic. While I was happy with the weight loss, I feel like I still kinda “look” fat. I haven’t built or toned much muscle along the way, so I am opting for a little more resistance and a little less cardio this time.

So why am I telling you all of this? Because I want you to know that if I can do it, at the ripe old age of 41, eight years after I did my first P90X cycle, that you can do it, too.  Unlike nearly everybody else on the internet who talks about P90X or any of the Beachbody workouts, I’m not trying to sell you any Shakeology or become your “Beachbody Coach.” I don’t care if you do P90X or one of its variants, or if you just start going for a walk every day. I just want all of us to be the best possible versions of ourselves that we can be.

So that I don’t annoy any of you who may follow me on my regular IG account, I’ve started a new one, @barkmfitness. I’ve moved all of my daily workout updates over there and I may even try to post some video. Today is Day Six of Round two, which means I’ll be starting a new week on Tuesday. It would be awesome to have you join in.



27 Replies to “You Can’t Play With My (Weight-Related) Yo-Yo”

  1. paul pellico

    look…at 41 your body is still working chemically.

    try this same stunt at 55 or 60 and you’ll realize there are giggles coming from inside your head.
    Your own mind is amused by your last great acts of defiance.
    Nothing breaks down quickly, if at all.

    It is always going to come down to calories in and calories out…and NO SUGARS.
    Stop the crack sugar addiction.

    • Bark M

      My dad is 74, and he’s killing it. Down to 5’10” and 168 lbs, still benches so hard that he tore his labrum last year. No doubt that the chemicals change, but hard work still works.

      • paul pellico

        No argument that exercise helps.
        In fact I myself play competitive tennis and tennis drills several days a week. It totally saved me after my stroke.
        However…its still all an exercise in futility long term. That’s all I was saying…and in a jest(full?) way..
        It all ends…and even my inguries are more frequent and healing painstakingly longer.
        But that sugar intake…by flour of straight shot of table sugar crack…that is the killer.
        Anybody here saying otherwise is a knucklehead.

        • Lamar S Henry

          Agreed on the sugar. I went from 215 to 165, stabilizing at 170ish by simply cutting out most bread and sweets and eliminating night eating.

          • paul pellico

            well…the night eating I am stuck with.

            I am trying through meditation to learn to go to sleep on my own, and in fact during the day I take naps when opportunity allows and practice the mind slowing then. I mostly works.

            But at night!!!

            Talk about thinking! Why in hell would I begin to think once in bed! So I take Ambien!

            Under the control of even small amounts I can somehow talk myself into the fact that ice cream, any ice cream, is a beneficial nighttime sleeping aid.

            There are days when I have awoken at 1AMwith Turner Classic still on and an empty pint on my chest.


    • JD

      Weight lifting and cardio is actually good and recommended for aging. Gotta stop that muscle wasting and strength those bOnes. 🦴 You are right when you say that losing weight requires calorie deficit. But losing weight does not always = being healthy. Health is a balance between the types/amount of food you consume combined with moving and using your body the way it works for you AND keeping your mental/emotional health in-check. If those above things aren’t taken care of, how much or how little “crack sugar” you consume does not mean s-h-i-t.

      Maybe an age 55 or 60 person could not do P90X right off the bat. But I guarantee they could at least do modifications of the program if they worked slowly at it – of course this all depends on if they are disabled/injured as well. Then obviously they probably shouldn’t!

      Who am I to say though…I’m just a know-it-all millennial who grew up with boomers as parents.

      • paul pellico

        “Who am I to say though…I’m just a know-it-all millennial who grew up with boomers as parents.”
        Not one to really know the age of 60.
        But really, I was jesting about much.
        Exercise is essential…I just need a ball in mine. No running, as my mind needs something to do.
        Tennis is my addiction.
        And running, IMO,is a bad thing for the human body. We are not a running species.

        • Bored Millennial

          P. sure boomers last year was in the early 60s.

          Paul I am glad you recognize you need a ball to be active. Take that self reflection and put it to work! You got this!

  2. stingray65

    Welcome back Bark and congrats on the fitness results. I’m pushing 60 and can still wear the same pants I wore in college, drink lots of Coke (with sugar as God intended) and I have never dieted in my life. I’ve been running daily for over 40 years and just love it (and occasionally ski, bike, play golf/tennis), and the secret to sticking with it is to find some exercise you enjoy doing so it doesn’t feel like work or sacrifice. People who lose weight by dieting NEVER keep it off because it is too easy to cheat, but regular exercise can and does keep you fit with enough muscle mass to burn the calories that allow you to eat foods you like (even to excess on occasion). If no exercise is appealing, then I would suggest getting a very active sporting breed dog who will absolutely insist on being taken for a walk or jog daily. And if you are too busy to exercise some days, then at least take the stairs instead of elevators, and walk instead of taking an Uber or moving walkway and you still burn a surprising amount of calories and keep fit.

  3. Nick D

    I’m in as I’m pushing a personal high score on the scale. I’ve got a bootleg p90x3 DVD set and a basement, so there’s no reason not to work out. I may not do an actual p90x3 workout every day, but when I don’t I usually run 4 miles over lunch at the office. Slowly. The goal is to get back to sub 8 minute miles. Wasn’t able to work out this weekend, but did just spend 3.5 hours behind the wheel of a race car as overall winner, which burned up more than a few calories.

    I’ve had some luck with that intermittent fasting as well. I’m not sold on the full keto lifestyle, but eating less bread combined with skipping breakfast and lunch a day or two a week is a pretty straightforward way to some easy gains.

    • Nick D

      Update, since this is usually an automotive themed site: we won after 897 miles despite having the 18th fastest car.

  4. Harry

    I feel a great deal of empathy with your situation.

    I have fluctuated between 195 and 230, with 195 still being a bit too much, and a lot more time spent being closer to 230, for almost 15 years. All of the things I enjoy doing I can do better when I weight less but since I didn’t crack triple digits in weight until my sophomore year in HS I had(have) this weird hang-up about being skinny, even though I know I am doughy.

    I have had the best fitness success when I can concentrate on doing the things I love MTB, and backcountry skiing. Where I love both those activities have long shoulder seasons and little overlap.

    Taking 3 months of swim lessons as an adult has helped turn that around the last two years. I am on my longest streak of being below 215 I have ever had since cracking going over that 15 years ago, and the biggest change has been adding swimming into my routine. I enjoy open water swims, but I can hit the Y anytime of year in any weather so I don’t have the excuse to skip. I spent a few years working as a salvage diver, and when I stopped that was when my weight yo-yo started. I was comfortable in the water but self-conscious about not being graceful in the pool like someone who spent their youth on a swim team. The first month of class showed me how inefficient I was. Those lessons gave me the confidence to walk into and lake or any pool anywhere and not feel like I was out of place. I still don’t like lane sharing.

  5. E. Bryant

    I still like the Henry Rollins “seven word weight loss program”: Eat better, eat less, move your body.

    The way to do this “stunt” as a 55-60 year old is to simply not stop in your 30s or 40s. The super-fit senior citizens that I see at the gym and on the starting line of bike races have, for the most part, been doing this their whole lives. This takes some good fortune – avoidance of injury being the main factor – but discipline is still the primary ingredient.

    Mark, you will eventually want to incorporate rest into your routine. At least once a year, I over-do things, and end up sick and plateauing as a result. Now, I know what happens during a week off – The scale jumps up several pounds and I start looking all puffy. But that’s not real weight gain – it’s several hundred extra grams of stored carbohydrate (with increased fitness comes an increased ability to store away extra energy), and each gram of glycogen carries about four grams of water. The Jocko Willinks of Instagram don’t need rest and recovery, but those of us in the real world do. Skip this important step, and you’ll be right back into the yo-yo habit – over-exertion leads to low motivation and illness, which leads to broken habits, which leads to completely falling off the wagon. Look up the signs of sympathetic and parasympathetic overtraining, and back down at the earliest signs.

  6. Mrfixit1599

    I’m either genetically blessed or I’ve figured out a routine that just works for me. I’m 47 and 5′ 9″ as well. Was 155 when I joined the Navy, left boot camp at 185.
    I have stayed right around 170 – 180 for years. Haven’t exercised since I left the Navy 23 years ago. Ive never dieted. Drink 3 – 5 bottles of Mt. Dew every day, skip breakfast, lunch might be a 99 cent bag of doritos while I’m driving to the next factory, other wise skip lunch. Eat just enough of dinner to not be hungry, drink 12-14 Coors lights, or until I’m tired, then eat the rest of dinner. Smoke a pack to a pack and a half during said day. Don’t eat any sweets, mostly proteins with a random vegetable thrown in on occasion. Haven’t been to see a Dr. in probably 10 years.

    I’m well aware it’s a ridiculously unhealthy lifestyle but it seems to work for me.

  7. Meant-to-say-it-earlier Millennial

    Also, congrats to Bark on finding what works for him and sticking to it! I bet you feel fucking great!

  8. David Florida

    Congratulations Mark! Everyone should google Earl Fee and/or Clarence Bass if they want to see the potential of the human health span. 55 isn’t very old in comparison, and many males will still be making more than enough test to build muscle.

  9. VTNoah

    Good stuff Mark. The key to long term fitness is to never stop exercising. Even if you don’t get to do the whole workout, do 10 minutes. Just don’t miss doing “something” for more than a day. Reading the book “Atomic Habits” by James Clear really helped me put that into perspective. I’d take a few days or a few weeks off and then try to go super hard immediately only to injure myself and then have to take more time off and the vicious cycle begins again. By dialing back the intensity just slightly and staying more consistent, I’ve seen much more satisfying gains and I’m happier overall. Best of luck!

    • Bark M Post author

      That’s definitely true. I subscribe to the “every damned day” theory, or at least 6 days a week.

  10. hank chinaski

    /shameless humblebrag
    I completed a cycle of T25 (fairly intense HIIT, but not as bad as ‘Insanity’, which I haven’t tried) and 2 of P90X3 (mass, then classic). Both are good basement workouts when the weather is lousy and don’t need much equipment. P90 is definitely the easier of the two if you’ve crossed the half-century mark. I switched out to 3 months of StrongLifts 5×5 and made some solid progression (still not keeping up with that plan’s aggressive curve) but my cardio suffered. The late onset of summer heat here allowed for short-ish jogs and hillclimbs with a 15# ruck. Highly recommended.

  11. DaveL

    P90x in all of its versions is a great workout and congratulations for completing it several times. I’m your brothers age and your size except for the weight (155-160). I’ve have great results except for the hernia, which required surgery, and the shoulder AC joint issue which will require surgery. Since those issues I’ve stuck with the various core workouts which are great.

  12. yamahog

    Hell yeah dude keep it up!

    It’s amazing how quickly people age when they don’t do anything, and how long people can stay fit when they simply do the work of staying in shape. There’s no reason you can’t get better with age and even just maintaining your weight / insulin sensitivity is going to pay dividends down the line when more life extension technology comes online. Back when you posted more often to instagram, I was really impressed by your cardio routines – I think your heart is in better shape than mine own.

    Every rep now builds some old man strength later!

  13. Tony

    I’m 53 years old. Began my first round of p90x November 2009. Changed my life. I had borderline high blood pressure and at 215 lbs was the heaviest in my life. Over several rounds I was stable at 170 with perfect BP. I continue to alternate between p90x and X3. (Just did the warrior workout tonight) I have had some minor injuries from time to time, but no big deal. I figure as long as I keep doing it I can keep doing it.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.