Back in January, I wrote about my New Years’ Resolutions. I’m now 177 days in, and things are continuing to go well.
- Health and Finance: A dry January. Exceeded. I went from 2 or 3 drinks a night six times a week to around 6 drinks per month, mostly while on vacations.
- Health: Track my weight and other metrics. I’ve been using the FitBit Sense smartwatch to track my workouts and day-to-day, and I’ve been weighing in on a FitBit smart scale a few days per week. I’m down a bit over 50 pounds. This is considerably beyond where I expected to end up (-25 pounds).
- Health: Find sustainable fitness habits. Going great. I’ve been setting personal records for both speed and distance.
- Travel: I cruised to Mexico with the kids over Spring break, went to Seattle for work in May, will be taking the kids to Maryland in July, and have booked an Alaska cruise for September.
- Finance: The stock market is way down, and inflation is way up. Getting divorced turns out to be really terrible for feeling financially stable. Uncertainty at work has made things significantly worse.
- Life: Produce more. I’ve been blogging a bit more lately. I decided to keep going with HelloFresh– it’s much more expensive than I’d like, but it’s more enjoyable/rewarding than I expected.
Fitness – Mechanics
When you get right down to it, losing weight is simple (which is different than easy). Every pound of fat is 3500 calories. To lose two pounds of fat per week, burn 1000 calories more than you eat for each day of the week. There are two ways to do this: intentional eating, and increased exercise. I embarked upon both.
When I first moved into my new house, I designated the old dining room as a library and installed a sofa and three large bookshelves. But over the first year here, I found that I almost never used the room, so when I resolved to start working out, it was a natural place to put my fitness equipment. So my Library has become my Gym.
Over the last two years, I’ve accumulated a variety of equipment related to improving fitness:
- NordicTrack x22i Treadmill (Incline Trainer)
- Nautilus U616 Bike
- Fitbit Sense
- Fitbit Smart Scale
- Balega and R-Gear Drymax running socks
- Brooks Ricochet 3 running shoes
- ProForm 750 rower (I haven’t managed to get into this, yet)
- Exercise mat
- Fans (ceiling and standing) / Midea Window AC
- NordicTrack heart rate tracking forearm band
- Oura Ring Gen3 (This hasn’t been very useful)
- 43″ LCD TV / Amazon Echo Dot with Clock
- iPad / Lenovo Android tablet
- Paper Calendar and notepad
…of these, I’d rate the Treadmill, Bike, Fitbit Watch and Scale as the most important investments; everything else is a nice-to-have at best.
My Gym has the major advantage of being directly in the middle of my house, between my bedroom and my home office, so there’s simply no ignoring it on my morning “commute.”
Action shows with cliffhangers are a wonderful “nudge” to get on the exercise bike on days when I’m feeling on the fence and looking for excuses not to work out. I asked my Tweeps for suggestions on what TV shows I should watch and got a bunch of good suggestions. After I finished The Last Ship, I moved on to Umbrella Academy, then The Orville, and now I’m sweating my way through Ozark.
For running, I’m using the training programs on iFit. They’re expensive (hundreds of dollars a year) but for me, have proven entirely worth it. I’ve done training series in Costa Rica, the Azores, one-off 5K and 10K races all over, did a half-marathon (split over two days) in the shadow of Kilimanjaro, and on June 29th ran my first full half-marathon (in NYC). While it’s true that they sometimes feel a bit cheesy (having a recorded trainer who can’t see you cheering you on) it’s still quite motivational to have the ability to run in a new and exotic place at any hour of the day, in the comfort of my A/C with three different fans blowing at me. I got started slowly (various short walks with comedians, who were only slightly funny) and then ramped up into a weight-loss series with Chris and Stacie Clark. Leah Rosenfeld got me ready for my first 10K, and now I’m running with Knox Robinson.
A lot of getting in shape turns out to be mental, and on this front things have been going pretty well. While I’ve had a lot of stress in my life this year, much of it has been conducive to switching things up, and changing my diet and adding lots of exercise fits into that new approach.
- I’ve stopped my longstanding practice of “magical eating” where I don’t look at the calorie counts for stuff I want to eat when I know it’s “bad.” Sometimes the number is not as bad as I think, sometimes I realize that there’s something else I’ll like more that’s not as bad, and sometimes I just think “I don’t really want this that bad” and go eat something healthy instead.
- I rarely deny myself anything: I’ll just procrastinate or save something for a special occasion. “I’ll just have that later” is much easier on the willpower than “No.“
- Eating unhealthy food less often results in greater pleasure (and quicker satisfaction) when you do indulge. One of my heroes describes this sort of change as stepping off of the hedonic treadmill.
- Avoiding alcohol has allowed me to be a lot more intentional about what I choose to eat at night.
- I hate wasting food, but I’ve stopped finishing whatever’s left on my kids’ plates when they’re done.
- Cooking (HelloFresh) a few times per week makes it much simpler to keep meal calories under control– I pick lower calorie menus, and cut down on ingredients that I don’t really care for, like butter. There’s no question that there’s an Ikea-effect at play– food I make just tastes better than it would if I didn’t make it.
- Seeing progress week-to-week has been hugely motivating. Rigor in tracking has been really important in proving to myself that the choices I make day-to-day are inexorably reflected in my outcomes.
There are different ways to view progress.
Beyond letting my devices track my weight and workouts, I also have a paper calendar and a notepad; these are both a backup, and a tangible reminder of the progress I’ve made.
Numbers don’t tell the whole story, of course. I can look at clothes that stopped fitting as I went from a 40″ to a 35″:
…or my profile (traced to avoid scarring you for life)
…or just poke my legs, which went from squishy to extremely firm.
In large part, I’ve achieved the first phase of my plan– proving to myself that eating well and exercising a lot determines the shape of my body. (It seems idiotic to think otherwise, of course, but I assure you I was skeptical of the relationship and my ability to control it at the start of this process).
For the next phase, I’d like to start adding more upper-body workouts (my reduced weight means I can do unassisted pull ups for the first time in decades) and continue to add more endurance workouts in preparation for an ambitious fitness and life adventure that I expect to commit to soon.