Monday, December 28, 2009

Staying true, and keeping fit

Just before Christmas, I hit a milestone on my fitness journey I began June 23. I have now been walking (as well as biking, lifting weights, and participating in other cardio and strength building activities) the path towards fitness for six months.

What began as disapproval (seeing my weight at 259.5 on the digital scale display), then shifted into the planning stage (how do I lose some weight), and eventually became part of my lifestyle. Changes take time to become personal. For me, personalizing my routine happened almost immediately. By that I mean that I quickly embraced my initial plan of exercise, calorie reduction, and then, as the weeks rolled by, I became acclimated to portion sizes, foods I could eat, and foods I preferred not to eat.

Here are a few things that I have learned in arriving at this stage, with my weight loss fluctuating between 47-50 pounds:

  • Change requires positive reinforcement--
Rather than deciding what foods I couldn't eat, I started out by figuring out what my caloric intake should be to maintain my weight where it was, and not gain one additional pound. From there, I then ratcheted back my calories, tracking them via Fitday, which has been a great site for me.

  • Find foods that you enjoy, and don't overindulge--
I love cheese. I also like snacks that are salty. I found a great cheese made by Cabot, which has 50 percent less fat. I allowed myself one serving (which was one ounce) in my lunch for work. I also found that pretzels, particularly the mini ones are fairly low in calories and are a nice compliment to my cheese, and my Sara Lee turkey ham.

  • Pack your lunch everyday--
I can't emphasize this enough. There are very few options for lunch that are as low-calorie and generally as healthy as packing your own lunch. By the time you can get away from work for lunch, you are generally hungry and when you're hungry, you overindulge. Not a good place to be. Plus, most quick lunch options are heavy in calories, not to mention expensive.

One of the nice perks of packing my own lunch everyday has been the money that I've saved (a minimum of $5-6 a day, which is being conservative, multiplied by two, as Miss Mary has also joined the pack-a-lunch-for-work club), which in these economically trying times, is not a bad thing.

  • Find a way to exercise vigorously 3-4 times per week--
I can't emphasize enough the importance of vigorous exercise. For me, I need to burn about 3,500 to 4,000 calories per week to support my love of food and occasional higher calorie outings.

When I began my weight-loss regimen, my calorie intake was about 1,800 to 2,200 calories per day. Over time, I've allowed it to increase to around 2,400 to 2,600 per day (particularly on workout days). Occasionally, usually one day per week, I'll allow myself an extra beer, and a snack of some kind, or Mary will make a meal on the weekend that might be a higher-calorie choice and I'll approach 3,000 calories on the intake side.

Because I've been doing this long enough, I know that given my current routine of going to the gym three times per week, which includes an hour of cardio and an hour of weights, plus one to two sessions on the treadmill on my non-gym days, I can support my current calorie intake schedule. This is a key to where I'm at, which has become a maintenance phase.

Today I'm off from work. Instead of taking the day off from exercise, however, I spent 35 minutes on the treadmill, running for 12 minutes, and maintaining an average of 5.0+ miles per hour intensity level, which burned 375-400 calories.

  • Find a weight range you're comfortable with and stay there--

I'm now trending in a weight range that fluctuates between 207 and 210. My goal is to stay south of 210. I have had a couple of upticks over Thanksgiving and recently, over the Christmas holiday, although this morning's weigh-in (prior to my treadmill session) found my weight at 210 on the button!

I generally weigh-in on Monday and then again on Thursday, although sometimes I can't help jumping on the scale more frequently.

Joining the gym has been a pleasant surprise for me. I'm not someone that generally enjoys gyms, but Planet Fitness in Auburn has been a good fit for me.

I'm in my ninth week of gym membership. I now workout early. Two times during the week, I'm at the gym at 5:00 a.m. Then, on Sunday, I arrive at 7:00 (when it opens) and this is usually my most vigorous workout of the week.

While diligence is required and I have to remain focused on staying the course, it's also exciting to be heading into 2010 without having to make a resolution to lose weight.


Lisa K. said...

Congrats on the weight loss, Jim! I just started a program myself a couple of days ago, and I can only hope for your success. Thanks for the link!

Jim said...


Good for you! It's been six months now and it's really become a lifestyle shift for me.

Keep your goals simple and don't be unrealistically ambitious at the start. For me the formula of calorie reduction + increase in physical activity=weight loss.

Is it easy? Hell no! People always push food my way, and there always seems to be a party, or some get together where there are temptations all around. Like today--getting together with my wife's family, since we weren't able to for Xmas. There will be tons of food, but I'm doing my pre-party duty of burning calories, which for today, sans gym, is to strap on my X-country skis and trek through the beautiful woods nearby, as the snow falls, probably for an hour, or so.

Much success to you in 2010.