May 232016
 

My Weight Loss Story – Part 1

by Michael

 

Every year, I set personal fitness related goals for myself. In the past, my goals have been around cycling a certain amount of miles. I have a back injury that rears its ugly head from time to time and this has lead me to conclude that if I keep doing the same things, I’ll keep getting the same results. As a result, I’ve decided not to ride my bike everyday or do any of the same exercises on consecutive days.

Last year, I pedaled 2,100 miles over several commutes from my home to work and back. For all of my efforts, I lost zero pounds last year. Losing weight wasn’t the focus of riding all those miles but you’d think that I’d be able to shed weight without thinking about it due to the biking but that just wasn’t the case. I concluded that while I enjoyed exercising, the reason I hadn’t lost any weight was because of my diet.

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My goals this year are to be able to do 100 push-ups in one set and do 10 pull-ups in one set. When I say things like, “I’m going to do more push-ups this year” it holds no water because there’s nothing holding me accountable. I need an amount and a time frame in order to be successful. At the start of this year, I was able to do 15 push-ups and zero pull-ups. My goals seemed lofty for sure but I’m a numbers guy and measurables like this are what drive me to success. I just needed to figure out how I was going to be able to accomplish it.

My first goal was to work my way up to being able to do 100 push-ups in a day. On the day of the Super Bowl, I was able to do 100 push-ups in a single day for the first time in my life. I did them in 5 sets of 20 over about a half hour period. This was a major achievement for me and it was the first time I believed that I would be able to accomplish the push-up goal this year.

Then I was able to do them in 4 sets of 25 push-ups. Shortly after that, 30, 30, 30, 10. Last month, I was able to do them in just 3 sets – 35, 35, 30. The next step from this point is challenging and I’ve concluded that in order to be able to do 100 push-ups in just 2 sets, I will need to do 2 things. 1 – I will have to do more than 100 push-ups in a day and 2 – I will have to lose weight. For every 10 lbs I lose, that’s 1000 fewer pounds that I will have to push-up over the set of 100. Tipping the power to weight ratio in my favor was obviously going to be necessary in order to be successful.

Just like I said earlier about exercising, I need a weight loss goal. I cannot just say to myself that I want to lose weight and have it stick. I just don’t operate like that. At the start of every month, I assess my progress and set a new monthly goal for myself and I get on a scale weekly to monitor my progress. I don’t know how much weight in total I want to lose, I just assume that I’ll know it when I get there. I know that I’m looking for an optimal power-to-weight ratio that allows me to accomplish my push-up and pull-up goals.

What I don’t do is count my calories. I don’t do this because it constantly makes me feel bad. It makes me feel oppressed, like I’m doing something bad that needs constant monitoring when in reality, I’m eating food and I don’t want to beat myself up for doing that. I know what’s good for me to eat and what isn’t. I don’t need to quantify all of the calories I’m consuming.

The other piece to this is that I exercise. A lot. But this isn’t the reason why I’ve lost weight. I’ve lost weight because of the diet. My exercise looks like this – M/W/F, I bike about 21 miles to/from work. T/Th/Sa, I run in my neighborhood. I created a running goal for myself this year of being able to run 6 miles in under an hour. I’m currently up to 4.7 miles in about 45 minutes. All of this is in addition to my push-up and pull-up goals, which I’m working on each twice a week. I wear a heart rate monitor to track this data and on average, I’m burning 6000 calories a week while exercising. Unlike tracking the calories that I consume, tracking the calories that I burn is empowering. It’s proof that I’m working hard and that I’m getting better as I’m able to run further and my per-mile pace drops. This also allows me to not feel any guilt when I want to drink a glass of wine with dinner because I’ve earned it.

So where am I at now with my push-up goal? I’m up to doing 160 (8 x 20) or 150 (6 x 25) twice a week. For the pull-up goal, I’m just doing as many as I can with the assistance of resistance bands over a few sets. The best part about these goals is that I’m not concerned about failure at all. If I do fail, I will have done thousands of push-ups and pull-ups this year and that itself is a huge personal victory for me. I’ll post an update in January and will let you know if I was successful or not in achieving my goals.

Part 2 will be posted tomorrow and will detail the food part of how I lost the weight.
May 042016
 

I recently read an article that I wanted to share with you guys. Here is the link: I Stopped Exercising For One Year: Here’s What Happened. I read the article and found myself nodding and saying “yes!” to a lot of stuff in the article. It was well-written and I think a lot of people can relate to it. I know I could.

When I first started losing weight I had to be super diligent–like almost obsessive. I was counting my calories and I had to be strict. I had over 100 pounds to lose and I felt weak–I didn’t think it would work or “stick” and so I was diligent about staying within my calorie range each day. That meant denying myself a lot of stuff.

During my exercise mania days, I ate “clean” most of the time, which means, I stripped every bit of fun out of the experience of eating. Every day I ate grilled whatchamadingle with a side of steamed doojawockey. I removed sugar, alcohol and complex carbs out of my diet, along with the will to live.

Yes yes and yes. I stopped drinking all alcohol for the year and a half it took to lose the weight. I just didn’t need the calories. I stopped drinking all of my calories, which was a smart move on my part. But did that mean I stopped doing fun things like going out with friends to happy hour? Yep, it sure did. I didn’t trust myself in the beginning to make good choices — with food or alcohol. In those early days of trying to lose weight I didn’t think I could have just one drink and I knew I wouldn’t be able to order a salad or something and skip the happy hour treats like deep fried foods and fatty treats. You know how it goes…having fun out with friends, have a cocktail, someone orders some fatty food for the table and you vow to have just one bite but then…things get away from you and suddenly you’ve completely tanked your calories for the day. So I just didn’t go out. It sucked.

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Eventually I felt more confident and trusted myself and I started going out again. I found that I could make better choices and I COULD limit myself to one drink and one happy hour treat instead of completely derailing my weight loss goals.

Once I reached my goal weight I was able to loosen the reigns a little bit. I didn’t stop doing what worked but I did allow myself to have treats here and there. Doing things in MODERATION worked so much better for me. Instead of the early days of weight loss where I was afraid of the slippery slope one treat or one drink could do to my diet, I enjoyed more things and enjoyed life. Instead of feeling restricted, I ate whatever I wanted in moderation and it worked for a really long time–years in fact.

After all, life is supposed to be fun–good food enjoyed with people you love.

Something that disappointed me about the article was that the author quit the gym and then proceeded to just eat junk food. As she said–the dam burst. She gained weight and gave in to all the junk. On some level I can understand that but I was hoping that she’d say she quit the gym and quit being obsessed with food and … somehow found a balance.

The article went on to talk about exercising a lot:

I lifted weights. I trained with kettle bells. I climbed a zillion steps to nowhere on the stairmaster. I yoga’d and spun and kick boxed. I set impractical and ludicrous fitness goals, like being able to do 20 unassisted pull ups.

There were other downsides to being an exercise devotee. Going to the gym was time-consuming. Aside from exercising, there’s also getting changed, traveling to and from the gym, showering afterwards – it took up hours of my day. I put more energy into my relationship with exercise than I did with a living human being.

Again, I could relate 100%. Like with food, I went through phases of being obsessed with it. In the early days I did overexercise. I didn’t take rest days like I should and that lead to burnout, overuse injuries and exhaustion. I learned my lesson and incorporated mandatory 2 rest days a week. I’m glad I learned that lesson early on in my “career” as a gym rat because it’s necessary. Rest days are good. For the mind and the body.

Even with rest days incorporated in my schedule, working out 5 days a week would take it’s toll once in awhile. It made it hard to do fun things after work because I “had to go to the gym.” It really limited my schedule. I wish it didn’t. It was frustrating how much effort it took. Like the author of the article said, it wasn’t just the workout, it was the travel time, changing clothes, showering afterward. For me that was about 90 minutes total of my day and that meant less time for other things.

Things that helped alleviate that in my life? When I used to run during my lunch hour at work. I loved that. It gave me so much freedom. I was able to break up the work day, get out of the office, burn off stress, get my workout done and out of the way and then I had my evenings free! To do STUFF! To have fun! See friends! Go on dates with Michael. The other thing that helped was biking to work. Again, that freed up my evenings immensely.

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Then the author said she woke up from the fog of not working out, eating junk and gaining weight and she DID find a balance that worked. Instead of hardcore everything, she found moderation.

I’ve had to reframe my whole idea of myself. My identity was wrapped around being very skinny, and I’ve had to give that up.

Now that I’m a mom I’m reevaluating my life. I think that’s why this article spoke to me so strongly. Priorities have changed in my life, obviously.

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When I was pregnant, that last month or two I started reducing my workout schedule. Instead of five days a week I went down to four. Then it was three. I was just tired, my body was starting to hurt, and I needed a break. I thought it would be a slippery slope for me–that I’d just stop exercising, that I’d fall off the horse–but I didn’t. I just took a little bit of time for myself. The world DID NOT END. It was ok.

Now that I’m easing back into the fit life postpartum, I’m thinking about the future and what I want it to look like. I know once I go back to work full time and Logan is in daycare, the last thing I’m going to want to do is drop him off at home every night and then go to the gym for an hour. I don’t want to miss these moments with my son. I don’t want to waste what tiny time I have in the evenings with Logan by leaving. I just don’t.

At the same time, I know I want to keep active, stay fit and healthy and have some ME time, too. So it’s about finding balance.

I’m already thinking about what the future might look like.

Biking to work after dropping him off at daycare once or twice a week will be a good option when the weather is nice. It means I can get my workout done and then have the whole evening at home with my family.

Running at lunch is something I’ve missed a lot! I would love to get back to that.

The gym at work is also an option. Is it ideal? No, but it’s something I can do during my lunch hour in a pinch, especially if the weather is crappy.

Working out on the weekends is still ok because Michael can be with Logan and honestly if we can find things to do together as a family that would be even better — like hiking as a family! That’s something I am really looking forward to.

Running with Logan once he’s old enough will be great.

The Warrior Room is another option, too, because they have childcare options if I need it. We also have kettlebells at home, so I can always do that if I can’t make it to the gym (or if there are childcare issues).

And maybe it’s ok to drop my schedule down to 3 or 4 days a week instead of going back to 5.

Basically what I’m saying is that my workout routine/schedule will look different in the future, but I think it is still doable. I don’t think I have to sacrifice me time, fitness and time with family as much as I thought. I just think it will take more planning and will definitely take ME to learn how to be more flexible and let somethings go if necessary. Maybe it’s doing quick sprints in the neighborhood instead of long runs on the weekend, for example.

Finding balance in life is hard, even without kids. You want to be able to enjoy the things you love to do (even if that includes sleeping in on a Saturday morning instead of getting up early for a run!) but still be fit, right? There’s GOT to be a way!

So what about you? Especially if you have small kids/babies, how did you find that balance and what worked for you? What did you think of this article?