Just over a year ago I embarked upon my journey to lose weight and get in shape. I set a goal in terms of pounds. I set additional goals in terms of lifestyle, sustainability, health, clothing size and what I wanted to look like. I created a visual representation of what success might look like. I didn’t tell anyone about it. I just went in and got to work, all the while refining my goals, measurements, and adjusting my methods along the way. The spiritual aspect of my goal was to have my physical body match my mind and spirit; to have my outsides match my insides. My initial physical goal was to lose 35 lbs and go from obese to just overweight. Here’s how it worked out for me, at least so far.
I started with intermittent fasting as that was something I felt I could control. Initially my eating window was fasting after 8PM until 11:30 or so the next day, so no breakfast. While that was happening I subscribed to a meal plan service (Hello Fresh). I got a discount code from a friend, tried it, liked it, and kept it going. This helped with my meal portions and while it was not cheap, it was nearly equal to what I was paying to go out and eat junk. I just concentrated on these two things, no real exercise, though I was walking a few miles a few days a week. I also adjusted my sleep schedule to ensure I was at least in bed for 8 hours a night. Within a few months I had lost 15 lbs and they stayed off. In addition to this my new habits had now stuck and were therefore sustainable. Then I found I could not lose any more, not without some change or addition to my methods.
As intermittent fasting and meal planning were now sustainable, I went to work on the next thing which required me to join a gym. I did that and committed to paying for a trainer for six months. It wasn’t cheap but that didn’t matter. I set my site on going to the gym five days a week. I met my trainer on two of those days. Joining this program gave me access to their digital equipment allowing me to measure numbers other than just my weight. It also provided me with better knowledge of how to get in shape including nutrition and exercises I could do at home without gym equipment. After many adjustments I found that my best gym frequency was three days a week, working out with weights mostly and some minor cardio after each session. After six to eight months, I had lost an additional 20 lbs., shedding two inches on my waist and rendering my entire wardrobe too large. My new habits were in place. I was comfortable with them and required no special motivation to keep them going. I released my trainer and at this point I was done. People complimented me on my weight loss and I began shopping for new clothes. My goals were complete. Now what?
I looked in the mirror and while I was in much better shape in a way that I could see, things still jiggled when I jumped up and down. I could stand to lose even more so I set a goal to lose an additional 15 lbs. My gym time now has a component of working to sculpt my body into something that is both subtle and amazing at the same time. I’m still doing all the things that got me here with some refinements as I have learned more about their effectiveness by performing them. Here are some things I have changed
- Intermittent fasting
- Shrinking my eating window, ending it earlier so as not to interfere with my sleep
- Varying the eating window so my body doesn’t get too complacent, sometimes only eating one meal a day. This is key.
- Meal planning
- Still using Hello Fresh but choosing better meals both in terms of ingredients and taste.
- Shrunk plan to two entrees per week for a total of four meals. (I usually only eat two meals a day.)
- Cataloging some of my favorite recipes to use outside of the meal planning service.
- Final meal of the day is small, sometimes only an apple or some oatmeal so it doesn’t interfere with my sleep.
- Sleeping 8 hours
- Turning off all screens except for maybe my Kindle one hour before bedtime.
- Aiming to go to bed an hour earlier as I seem to wake up at the same time no matter what.
- Measuring my sleep with my fitness watch and adjusting as needed.
- Still going 3 days a week but workouts are shorter and more intensive.
- Plan to implement some stretching and perhaps some additional cardio.
- Targeting problems or overlooked areas on my body.
Final Note: I fell short of my goals often and still do. Building a new lifestyle takes discipline and I very often did not feel like doing it. I would sometimes binge both in terms of excessively eating bad food, playing video games, and working on personal projects long into the evening causing me to lose a lot of valuable sleep. Many times my progress stalled, reversed, and stopped altogether and if not for the constant monitoring of my progress I would not have been able to change course. I’ll probably be living some version of this lifestyle forever if I’m going to stay in shape but at this point it’s not only clear I can do it but also that I will do it. I haven’t been in shape at this level for decades and I like it. The journey continues.