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.