At the beginning of 2018 a good friend of mine named Amy began talking about her health and fitness goals. We discussed macro intake, elements of the Keto diet, and exercise. She told me of some fitness groups she was a member of. I told her that if she wanted, I could check up on her weekly. Over the next month or so, she told me how great she felt, that the plan she and her husband were following felt like a true lifestyle change–a paradigm shift.
I loved hearing about Amy’s success. She shared before/after photos, and she looked amazing. I wasn’t actively engaged in a fitness routine at the beginning of the year, but with each discussion, I tucked away for later the enthusiasm she shared. There were times after having Z that I thought about exercising, but I found an excuse not to do it. She was now four years old. And I was feeling tired all the time. I wanted to change that. I began researching:
- Keto diets
- Could I limit myself to 20g of carbs each day?
- How big of a commitment would I need to make to change my diet that much?
- Would this change really be compatible with the way my family currently eats? Would it be realistic and/or healthy to encourage them to eat that way?
- calorie calculators
- How much do I eat right now, and how would I change amounts of the kinds of calories I eat?
- How long would I keep track of calories required for weight loss?
- Is weight loss a true goal, or am I looking for overall fitness?
- If I were to develop strength and balance, would the number of pounds would become less of determinant in overall fitness?
- exercise programs
- HIIT programs:
- Betty Rocker
- 90-day challenge
- 30-day abs and booty
- 30-day free challenge
- Nike Training App
At the beginning of March, I started with a little bit of treadmill. It was hard, and I managed to get 20 minutes at a time, which was almost long enough to watch an episode of Friends.
In the middle of March, my work office was getting renovated, and everyone would be able to work from home. During this time I ran on the treadmill and did an Abs and Booty workout almost every day.
I bought a Fitbit and started keeping track of calories. And sleep. And physical activity. If you can measure performance, you can improve performance.
Then Spring Break came the first week of April, and we went on vacation to Florida. I thought I’d be able to stick to a workout schedule, but that wasn’t the case. I did, however, manage to go jogging three times during the nine days we stayed. I ate smaller portions, and I drank a lot of water, and I got a lot of sleep. But, I also let myself eat some of Z’s birthday cake and some other treats. Because VACATION.
Considering all the sweating I did in Florida, even in early spring, when we returned home and I weighed myself, I’d lost three pounds.
This encouraged me, because if I could lose weight on vacation, then I should be able to follow a fitness plan during a regular, structured day. Week. Month. Months.
So I kept going. I still had two weeks left of working from home, so I worked hard at near-daily exercise and keeping track of calories. And drinking water. And sleeping more.
After counting calories for a few more weeks, I more or less memorized the calorie amounts for certain foods.
I ate more proteins, fruits, and veggies. I’d cut back on treats (chips, bagels, and sweets left in the kitchen at work) during the week, and allow myself one of the donuts Reilly would get on his way home from the gym Saturday mornings. And I’d try to drink between 64 and 96 ounces of water every day.
After finishing the 30-day Abs and Booty program (which actually took me about 45 days, because I wasn’t going to stress myself out about exercise) I took about a week off of HIIT and just ran on the treadmill. By the middle of April, we were back to working in the office, so I had to really consider whether my exercise expectations were realistic.
If anyone’s wondering when I fit in my exercise, it’s during Z’s ABA therapy, which takes place 4-7pm. Her regular schedule makes it easy for me to stick to a workout schedule.
Around the second week of May, I began Betty Rocker’s 90-day program, which is basically 3-4 days of HIIT per week. I’d combine 20-30 minutes of treadmill with 1-2 of these weekly workouts.
During this 90-day challenge, I realized I could not expect myself to maintain 5-6 days of intense exercise every week. I felt myself starting to burn out. I needed to listen to my body and allow recovery time.
I decided to keep exercise to 3-4 days/week. And give myself about a week break between programs.
I started a 6-week program from the Nike Training app in the middle of August.
Then the free 30-day challenge sometime in October.
Then treadmill for a month while watching The Great British Baking Show.
Then a 4-week Nike program, which has carried me through most of December and into the first week of January 2019.
What next? Maybe a more intense Nike program? Repeat Betty Rocker? Something else on YouTube? We’ll see. This is the longest I’ve maintained any type of consistent exercise since living in NYC. It feels good to have reestablished healthy habits.
The first week of last month, Amy invited me to join an 8-week fitness accountability group on Facebook. She and one of her friends created a nifty spreadsheet for tracking various aspects of fitness. When we were asked to introduce ourselves, this is what I wrote:
Hey, everyone! Amy is a dear friend from NYC, and she invited me to this group. I’ve never really been a part of something like this, and I’m very excited!
My goals are for general fitness, which for me has included: eating more veggies and protein, and consistent exercise. I jog on the treadmill and/or HIIT up to 5 times/week. I love how much stronger and more energetic I feel. Weight loss has been in tiny increments – 7 pounds in the last 9 months, with about 3ish? pounds to go. I may just stay where I am. For me, slow and steady equates to sustainable. And maintainable. Which is sooooo possible! I’ve also been trying out intermittent fasting, where I get to eat all my calories between 12pm and 8pm, which seems to work with my life so far.
I’m looking forward to the next 8 weeks. Mostly to hang out with really cool people in this forum, but also because I like spreadsheets. That tracker is pretty rad.
(By the way, jury’s still out on intermittent fasting, but I actually don’t feel very hungry skipping breakfast.)
Here is this week’s progress, as of Wednesday night 1/2/19:
There have been times in the past 9 months that I haven’t felt like exercising, so I didn’t. Or that I didn’t feel like running on the treadmill for 30 minutes. So I walked instead for 20 minutes. Or I felt like I wanted a cookie. Or chips and salsa. Or a rare bottle of soda. I let myself have them. I feel like I’ve worked hard and consistently enough to enjoy occasional treats in moderation. (Cue: Christmas break.)
The left side of this photo was taken March 27. I snapped the right side December 21. I’m pretty pleased with my progress. My goal for 2019 is to keep it up.