Embarking on a Lifestyle Change

My daughter is almost three years old and loves to run and play. Sometimes we run around playing Tag and Tag (It’s sort of like tag, minus the tagging – my daughter made it up) and sometimes we’ll play hide and seek. She likes things fast so I have to hide by the time she reaches a quick four-count. Far too often I found myself worn out and in need of a break. I was in desperate need of a lifestyle change if I wanted to keep up with my little girl.

In the past I had good results from dieting and moderate exercise (walking a few miles every few days). Over a period of six to eight months I managed to drop about 35 pounds. My clothes fit better, I felt better, and large field courses at USPSA Matches weren’t so taxing.

Everything fell apart when I spent a few days at a cigar event. Not being able to keep up with my diet while out and about, I ate high calorie, fatty, foods and continued to do so when I returned home. I managed to put every one of those pounds back on since then.

This time I wasn’t going to just watch what I consumed, I was going to become more active as well.

Outlining The Lifestyle Change

A couple of months ago, my wife and I decided that we were going to start a vegetable garden. This would allow us to eat healthier, save a little money on groceries, and give us a hobby that we could do as a family. My daughter took to it immediately and loves going out to help us tend to the plants.

In addition to the increase in fresh vegetables, we were going to pay closer attention to the nutrition labels on our food. Quick pre-packaged meals, mostly purchased for connivence, were going to be thinned drastically. We still buy Smart Ones to take to work for lunch but they seem better than sandwiches (we tend to cook less to avoid left overs – they either sit too long in the fridge or I feel compelled to eat more than I should at dinner).

When it came time for exercise, my goal was to go out jogging a few times per week. Since I work from home two days per week, I wanted to start those days with a run, before my wife and daughter woke up. I would also run on Saturday and/or Sunday unless I was shooting (I felt that several hours of walking at a match was a good trade-off).

Eating for a Healthier Lifestyle

When it came to tracking calories and nutrition, I turned to the same system I used with success a few years back. I loaded up My Fitness Pal on my mobile devices and began logging my food and exercise. I used the same goals that I set for myself a few years ago (I don’t remember where they started but I eventually lowered them to 1,800 calories per day – this should yield a deficit of about 2 pounds per week based on my desk-job based activity level).

I don’t have a grasp on the Macro levels, so I don’t pay too much attention to those. I try to hold hard and fast to the calorie ceiling and have done a good job of staying below that number since starting. I’m finding it tough to stay under the ceiling when not eating at home, so I try to eat as healthy as possible when out with family and friends.

The most interesting aspect of tracking my food is seeing how I feel after eating certain things. For instance, if I have two eggs and two pieces of toast for breakfast, I find that I’m fuller for a longer period of time. If I’m running late and grab a bowl of mixed fruit for breakfast, I need more before lunch. If I eat junk for a snack, I’ll have a quick increase in energy then feel sluggish shortly after.

Exercising for a Healthier Lifestyle

Three weeks ago, for the first time in God-Knows-How-Long, I went out for a jog. I couldn’t have gone more than a quarter mile before I was breathing heavy and battling shin pain. I refused to quit and walked until I felt like I could run some more. That day I did far more walking than jogging but I completed my 2.25 mile route in an abysmal thirty-something minutes.

I pushed on and went out again the following day. By the time I finished my shins and calves hurt. A day or two later I went out yet again and the pain worsened. I kept at it thinking that I could work through the pain if I stretched well beforehand. By the second week my legs hurt so bad that I had to limp to my car and sit for a while before I felt like I could drive home safely.

I took the rest of the week off, icing my legs and stretching periodically. The pain went away and today I decided to start back up with my running routine. I reached a goal that I thought would take longer, I ran one leg of my route (roughly 1.1 miles) without stopping. I was tired but invigorated. I planned to run and walk the rest of the way back to my car but began feeling some pain in my right leg. I opted to walk back and not worsen the problem. As I type this, I’m feeling pretty good and plan to hit the trail again in 2 days.

Lifestyle Change - June 2013 - 1

Seeing Results

Some may feel as though this is a little much but I weigh myself daily. This allows me to see how my body reacts day to day. I’m finding that if I’m starting at 0 at the beginning of the week, I’ll be as much as -3 by mid week. By the end of the week I’ll rebound to roughly -2 with fluctuations of roughly a pound in between.

I saw the biggest change in the first week of dieting and exercise. The second week was less drastic but still considerable. When I looked in the mirror, my face appeared thinner and my pants were a little looser. The third week showed the least amount of change but it was expected due to having stopped running to recover from leg pain.

As of now I’m down roughly 12 pounds and feel a drastic diference in my energy level. I can play longer and harder with my daughter without needing a break. I’m happier, my wife is happier, and my daughter is happier. My goal at this point has less to do with the numbers on the scale and more to do with endurance. I want to be able to run a 5k by the end of summer. I’m not going to gripe about the side effects on the scale though, they are icing on the proverbial cake.

9 comments On Embarking on a Lifestyle Change

  • Well done buddy its been a while since I have checked in I had surgery a while back and put me on the mend. Good to see you keeping track of your health. I used a different approach I upped my calorie intake to nearly double 3300-3600 per day very small meals 7-9 times a day, very high in protein about a Gram of Protein per pound of body weight and it really made a big difference/ combo that with exercise and I dropped over 50lbs. the most important thing is finding out what works best for you and stick with it. Way to go

    • Corey,
      The next thing I want to do is start incorporating gym time. I’m not sure where it will fit in my already busy schedule but I’ll have to make some time for it.

  • Its hard I struggled with finding time to get there but after a few months I realized if I wanted to make a change in me I had to change my schedule so I got my fat ass up at 5 a.m. and hit the gym first thing in the morning. After the first week or two its really not a big deal, and with you being an early morning guy you might be able to swing it I think Golds opens at 4a.m.

    • On the days that I have to be in the office, I’m sitting at my desk by 6:00am (alarm goes off at 4:30). If I were to get up early enough to go to the gym before work, I’d have to go to bed somewhere between 7 and 8pm. That would cut away time with my wife and daughter, which I don’t want to do.

      I’m thinking that the best time to go might be right after work on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I can stop in on the way home, work out for 45 minutes, then come home and have dinner with the family.

  • Sounds like after work would be best for your schedule. Plus eating a good dinner after your workout is the best way to rebuild muscle. The most important thing is finding what works for you I had to try 3-4 different types of lifestyle diets till I found what my body used best, and my work outs really changed until I started to track them. That was the biggest key tracking my workouts and finding out which type of diet works for me.

    • How are you going about tracking your workouts? I’m not interested in calculating calories burned and feeding that info back into MyFitnessPal but I’d like to be able to see what I’m doing and the progress I’ve made over a period of time.

      A Smartphone App would be ideal but I don’t know where to start.

  • Oh Walt you know me and Tech. stuff not my thing I just chart them via paper and pen in a notebook, seeing my progression, starting and stopping times, weights, what I ate and how it affected my workouts, body weight, with weight training its very important to constantly change your routine as well working your muscle groups in different way to increase overall strength of the muscle as well as stretch it out and create muscle confusion. Once I get to the point where I repeat a workout I’ll go back and see how I have improved.

    • Thanks for the comment, sorry it took so long to post (all of the links in your comment flagged it as spam and I found it while doing an infrequent skim of the spam folder before deleting).

      I’m coming up on 2 months and progress has been pretty good. I’ll put together a post outlining my thoughts and include some stats.

      Thanks

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