Category Archives: milestones

Monsoons, Milestones, and Magic Powders on the Road to Wellness

It’s been raining here in Texas for a while now. The windfall of water has taken it’s toll on my workout schedule a bit, but mainly in keeping me off the tennis courts.

Have you tried any superfoods as part of your health and fitness quest? What about Maca powder? Or coconut oil? Or omega-3 fish oils? Are there some superfoods that work and others that are more hype than happy? I’m sure the answer is yes. My run at bulletproof coffee was a bit of a wash, though I do think the coconut oil has helped my internal digestive system a bit.

Oh, and I did to the weigh-in, as promised.

fitbytech-june-weighin

Maybe not as low as I had imagined, but easily the best I’ve looked and felt in years. Of course, *love* has a lot to do with that.

And on that note, I found a great summer beverage that I’m trying to perfect. I’m a sucker for the frappucino or frozen coffee drinks. However, those are *loaded* with sugar and fat. So I’ve come up with my own variety.

Silver Bullet Cold Coffee(tm)

  • 1 brew of coffee – decaf or reg depending on the time of day or need of energy

  • 1 tablespoon of raw local honey

  • 1 teaspoon of raw coconut oil

  • 1 pinch of cinnamon

  • 2 – 5 grains of organic sea salt for minerals and trace elements

  • and today – 1 teaspoon of Maca powder (no idea, but a fad for sure – I’ll report back after a bit of experimentation with this super/mysterious food.

  • ice

  • blender to make frozen smoothie

Top 10 ideas from my holistic fitness and health program.

  1. Weighing-in is optional, not necessary to keep my motivation high, nor to inspire me
  2. Superfoods are also caloric, so let’s use a bit of judgement and see what feels good (all in moderation)
  3. Coffee is a health drink and a superfood combined.
  4. Coconut oil continues to astound me. Not as a weight-loss supplement, but certainly as a healthy fat and as a lubricant for all things.
  5. Today’s news: losing weight is more about eating less, rather than exercising more.
  6. Exercising everyday is a must. You’re going to miss days, so make those actual misses, rather than scheduled days off. The more the merrier. Two and three-a-days are amazing, but also taxing to your overall system.
  7. Sleep is essential. 8 hours is minimal.
  8. Waking up early, alert and inspired by what the day brings is a good sign of health and happiness.
  9. Finding someone to train with is the biggest boost to fitness.
  10. Finding someone to love is the biggest boost to life and overall health and mental resilience.

Take the next step,

John McElhenney
@fitbytech

Superfoods: Do you believe in superfoods? Spirulina, Wheatgrass, Coconut Oil, Maca Powder, Asahi. What is and is not recommended? Here’s a bit of info on my latest experimental supplement.

7 Top Health Benefits of Maca Powder – Vegkitchen

related posts:

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Do you want to try any of these superfoods for yourself. Here are the two main ingredients in my new cold coffee brew.

fitbytech-coldcoffee

Never Stop, Never Give Up! Getting Fit with a Friend!

It’s no accident that I’ve been silent here on my “fitness” blog. (Last post, Jan 7, 2015) It’s been a busy and rough few months since January. I’ve got a lot to share. I’ll start with my two biggest WINS and catch up on the other stuff in future posts.

WIN NUMERO UNO!

A training partner will make all the difference in your life.

WIN NUMBERO DOS!

A love partner will make all the difference in your life.

Now the fact that I was able to combine these two amazing requirements into one partner, well… I’m blessed beyond belief. And maybe it was this blog that had something to do with it. See, she’s a fitness fanatic. Every night it’s the same question, “Are we going for our walk?” No matter how frickin hot it is here in Texas, she’s always asking. I’m always answering, “Of course. ¿Como no? Let’s go!”

That was the goal. Getting comfortable with my body, using smart workouts and smart eating as a tool to shed some unwanted baggage.

And she’s got an added bonus that is related to her fitness. She eats very little and what she does eat is pretty damn paleo. Very few carbs make their way into my diet courtesy of this amazing love interest. Sure, she’s taken my heart by storm, by exercise, by feeding me, and by… well, let’s keep some things private.

One of the first debunks she helped me with was this whole notion of Bulletproof Coffee. In general the idea is sound, in practice it’s a bit more like the Atkin’s diet. Sure you can do it. But bacon isn’t really the healthiest thing you can be eating.

I’ve recently returned to a modified super coffee by simply adding some coconut (oil, grated, paste) to my morning coffee. I am no longer adding butter. And I’m not really trying to skip a meal. But I am noticing that the blood sugar drop associated with high coffee consumption is gone. I can eat breakfast an hour later when I’m hungry, or skip it until lunch.

Right now I’m working in my living room, anticipating the kids summer wakeup time and eventual request for “breakfast.” And I’ve had my 2 cups with some coconut manna added, and I’m feeling not only energized, but calm and smoothe as well.

I’m not that interested in a “weigh in” as my GF calls it. Sure, I can be certain I’ve lost a good bit of weight since January, but it’s less about that and more about how I look and how I feel.

I’m noticing myself in the mirror a bit more. I’m not always grabbing for a shirt before walking around the house. I’m seeing myself in my Skype calls for business, looking quite svelt. And I’m enjoying the feedback and comments from my GF as well as casual friends who ask about how I’m looking so happy and so fit.

Again, that was the goal. Getting comfortable with my body, using smart workouts and smart eating as a tool to shed some unwanted baggage. I’ve not obsessed over any of it, but I have maintained a very steady approach to eating less fat, less sugar, and more lean protean. I’ve been cooking with my uber-GF and learning how to make healthier food that even my kids love.

Most of all, I’ve learned to love the progress, the process, and the slow and steady improvement in my fitness and stamina. I still can’t run up the 1.5 mile hill outside my front door, but I can run down it on the way back from my 4.3 mile loop. By August I’ll be running the whole thing, yes, even in the Texas Summer. I’ll just go at 6am.

Blessings and optimistic results for you.

Take the next step,

John McElhenney
@fitbytech

related posts:

fit-coffee-2015

Celebrating the Consistency of My Fitness Program

As I gain momentum in my wellness and health program it becomes easier for me to eat better, to remain conscious of all the additives I am not ingesting, and I become more committed to my plan. But the results may take longer than I would like. I was hoping that after 3 months and say 6 – 7 desserts (including 3 slips) I would’ve seen more evidence of my efforts.

I’m not sure what I was looking for. Probably a girlfriend, actually. But let’s stick with the health aspects. I have enjoyed the feeling of mastery that comes with gaining control of and insight into my cravings. And, even with this new awareness, I have not hammered myself too hard for the few times I veered hard for a sweet or two. It’s all about the path and the progress.

It’s the journey I’m learning to enjoy, not the miraculous results of my new “diet” program.

And even with all of my positivism and esteem boosting perceptions of my new-found self-control, I have been a little disappointed that I’m not 20 pounds lighter, and 10 years younger. Of course, I just discovered coconut mana, so I’m willing to give myself another 30 days… Oh, wait.

No, I’m still happy with where I am. I’m a little rounder than I’d expected given all of my effort and exercise, but it’s the journey I’m learning to enjoy, not the miraculous results of my new “diet” program. That’s never been my goal. It’s been a tangential result, perhaps, that I’d expected to see as a side effect of my work, but still… Well, still, I was hoping for more than I achieved.

The good news is, for me, in 2015 I’m MORE committed to my health and wellness efforts than when I started in October. I *have* seen the results more in my self-awareness and self-image. I think I’m becoming more realistic about who I am and what my goals are. I still think I’m 42 instead of 52, but that’s a slightly different angle.

And while I am continuing my efforts in a more focused way, by writing about it, I can also see evidence, by the hole in these shoes, that I am putting in the work.

Along the three-month journey, I’ve learned that celebrating the victories is important for me. And today, I had a minor win that seemed worth pulling up into the spotlight.

Of course, my journey began long before I started writing about it. I’ve been re-investing a good amount of time and effort in strengthening and feeding my desire to get fit. And this past summer, I needed a new pair of tennis shoes, as I had accidentally packed mine in my storage unit after I sold my house.

Today, 7 months later, I have the worn through the sole of those shoes. That’s a good bit of time on the court. And what I see in these shoes is a victory. I am doing it. And while I am continuing my efforts in a more focused way, by writing about it, I can also see evidence, by the hole in these shoes, that I am putting in the work.

I ordered new tennis shoes online. And today, that’s a huge victory.

Take the next step,

John McElhenney
@fitbytech

related posts:

fitbytech-tennis

Time To Get Radical About Fitness and Health?

Okay, 90 days is a pretty good chunk of time. And… I’m slightly sad to report that my progress has not been the downward sizing spiral weight loss that I had hoped for. But then again… I didn’t really go for radical changes in my lifestyle or diet. Let’s recap the last three months of 2014.

  • I cleaned up what I was eating.
  • I started listening to why I was snacking or bingeing on sweets or salty snacks (reveal: most often it was not hunger but a craving).
  • I committed to the process of reframing my self-image in 100% positive affirmations. (still working on this one).
  • I examined my portions and old hard-wired programming to clean my plate.
  • I maintained a pretty good track record of exercise, though my 5-times a week slipped a bit in Dec. as the weather made outdoor fitness challenging.
  • I slipped a few times (of course I did) and promptly started again with the next morning’s coffee.
  • I almost completely eliminated fast food, packaged foods, and added sugar from my diet. (I say almost, because my son has a hankering for Taco Bell that I occasionally indulge, and I occasionally partake.)
  • I began to notice the small victories right away. I didn’t feel bloated much at all. My pants fit a bit looser.
  • I appreciated the feeling of mastery that comes from taking conscious charge of my program, even when I decided to vary from that plan or go off-plan completely for a meal.
  • I can count the desserts I’ve had in those three months on exactly one hand. (2 of those were unplanned ice cream slips, the other 3 were Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, Christmas pumpkin pie, and a piece of birthday cake at a friend’s party) Amazing to be able to recall and know that I was in control.

All good stuff. All steps along the journey, that will last a lifetime, now that I understand the process. You can’t go back to eating like a teenager, except in small doses. But you really don’t want to feel that way either.

So what’s next? There are a number of ways I could step things up radically in 2015, and I’m currently chatting with some people about which route to take. I promise to give you all the scoop as I get the information and make the choices that are right for me.

I am ready to get a bit more radical about my fitness and specifically the reduction of my belly fat. (And hey if that reduces my love handles at the same time… woo hoo!) Here are a few of the things I’m considering.

  • Working with a coach or a trainer. (What about both?)
  • Giving Bulletproof Coffee a try.
  • Fasting or cleansing for brief periods of time.
  • Going vegetarian or at least more paleo.
  • Doing a nutritional evaluation – to see if I’m missing some easy opportunities.
  • Taking BEFORE pictures as a motivational tool. (I think we have a hard time seeing ourselves.)

What’s worked for you in the past? What radical changes are you willing to make to reach your goals? And more importantly, what are you goals. Let’s see, I think I need to examine those again as well.

2015 Q1 Goals (let’s revisit these once every three months)

  1. Lose belly fat.
  2. Increase strength and muscle mass to up my burn rate.
  3. Find an indoor alternative sport so that I have options when the weather sucks (like this morning).
  4. Find a long-term relationship.

I know that last one isn’t a fitness goal, but it’s a motivational goal, so it stays.

There you have it. I’m resetting in 2015. I’ve had a great year, but I’m ready to take my fitness to the next level. What are your plans for your diet, health, and fitness in the new year? What can you start today?

Take the next step,

John McElhenney
@fitbytech

related posts:

image:  ready to get radical?, cc 2014 john mcelhenney, creative commons usage

fitbytech-2015-start

Wrapping Up 2014 and Putting Bill Murray on the Job

Well, things have certainly changed a bit since I started this blog. And things have stayed the same.

Here are some of my wins.

  • I’ve lost about 9 pounds since starting. And have not gained ANY during the holiday months. Oct – Dec.
  • I am extremely conscious of all sugar intake. Even relatively benign treats like low-fat yoghurt have a ton of sugar. Added sugar is the worst, but sugar is sugar in the end.
  • I have a slightly less harsh self-image. I am happy with my progress and happy with my resolution and will power.

And a few of my “still needs work” items.

  • I intentionally avoided any extreme dieting, and thus my progress has not been as rewarding as it might have been had I gone pure-paleo or something. I’m okay with this. But in 2015 I’m going to try a few new things.
  • My exercise has been consistent but has not really moved the needle like I thought it might. I’ve been consistently working out 3 – 5 times a week. I’m considering adding some running in with my walking. And perhaps adding a bit of strength training would be helpful to raise my muscle mass.
  • I’ve slipped into laziness this month. I’ve been very disciplined with desserts, but they have never *really* been my problem. Fresh salty tortilla chips have been one of my go to snacks. Ooops. I have been out of low-salt organic almonds all Dec. I need to take care of that.
  • I’d like to see a more significant weight loss and I assume that means working a bit harder at my program. I’m considering doing a few videos with local trainers and coaches who have offered their advice.
In 2015 I’m going to continue to visit with myself about my diet, my fitness and wellness (they are two interrelated but different things), and my self-image.

Overall, I’ve been working my FitbyTech program since October, and my Nike Fuelband would show only a few periods of low activity. I’ve been challenged by tasty foods and sweets that my kids like. At the same time I’ve kept a very positive attitude and even allowed myself to binge for a moment and not given myself any grief over it. So much of my life experience has been trash talking myself. I’m over that. There are goals I would like to hit in 2015, but I’m taking the loving approach.

It’s as if I were to choose the internal trainer I’d like to have with me. Rather than the drill sergeant in Stripes I’d like to imagine Bill Murray as my internal voice. And look at Bill Murray, he’s not the fittest or most attractive guy on the planet, but he sure seems happy.

In 2015 I’m going to continue to visit with myself about my diet, my fitness and wellness (they are two interrelated but different things), and my self-image. In bringing these ideas to light I am hopeful I can continue to improve in all three areas of my physical and mental life.

Take the next step,

John McElhenney
@fitbytech

related posts:

image: bill murray promo shots from Stripes, creative commons usage

fitbytech-billmurray

Reviewing, Releasing, and Resetting My Goals – Month One

I declare my misery over.
I am in the process of creating a new song of myself.

Oh, I’ve been putting off my “weigh-in” a bit to see if I can get a few pounds lighter before I report in. That’s silly. I’m not really tied to that outcome, but I am still emotionally connected to it as some measure of success. I mean, if you’re here on this journey with me, you want to see success, right? I know I do. But I’ve got a different spin I’m trying on myself, let’s see if I can unpack my first month of self-awareness.

Some wins right away.

  • Zero Halloween candy. Not even a taste. And it’ wasn’t a challenge once I set my mind back on track.
  • Heading into November, my birth month, and thanksgiving, and I know I’m on track to have my best Holiday season ever, because I’m still attacking my sugar intake with a vengeance.
  • Only two bloated moments in the entire month – both times I ate pizza, too much pizza btw.
  • Both times I slipped into a sugar/dessert coma I make a conscious choice to do so, and to observe myself in the process and the hours afterwards.
  • My attitude is shifting away from my cravings and emotional hunger, towards a positive refactoring of what I eat and when I eat it.
  • My energy has been solid all week. I’m learning how to regulate my pre-workout food so that I don’t “need” a sugary sports drink. (Yes, even evaporated cane sugar, is sugar.)
  • I have not bashed myself or my body for where we are on the path towards a healthier me. NOT ONCE.

It’s the last observation that I think is the most important discovery. I learned early in my life, that my weight gave me power. As a 7-year-old Texas football player, I was also just under the weight limits for our tiny-player league. With that extra advantage I was a freight train when they handed me the ball. I experienced success as an athlete very early, and a lot of it had to do with my fantastic body. I was not concerned about my “fat” body, an neither was the coach who walked me around spitting and trying to pee before the weigh-ins. To him I was a winning season.

I am turning this new process of discovery in to a winning season for myself. I am where I am, and I am getting more loving and more fit at the same time. Get it? It’s very hard for any of us to truly love our bodies. Even the amazingly fit are struggling with body image issues as well. If we could release the body image hurt inside us, we’d probably be a lot happier. Like yoga, releasing and uncoiling all those years of damaging self talk, and societal “thin” pressure, has wreaked havoc on our own internal monologues.  We are awful to ourselves. I’m stopping that completely. Done!

So even in my attempts to become more fit, more healthy, I am also accepting the challenge to being more loving towards my love handles. More accepting of all of this process. I have wins, I have slips, I am human. But I am happy with my steps back towards my goals, and every time I return to this blog, I am reaffirming my love of myself. By taking better care of our bodies we are giving ourselves the message that we love ourself. (Powerful, yet a bit woo woo, right?)

Let me look at a few of the areas where I missed, if only for examination, and not chastisement.

  • I had pizza with my kids twice. I could’ve given them pizza and had something else.
  • I still had my usual medium popcorn at three movies. No butter and water to drink, but I have a little info on what’s in movie popcorn…
  • A few times I let my hunger (aka blood sugar drop) get too fierce and I’ve made poorer choices than I would’ve had I been more aware of myself.
  • I jumped on the scale, two weeks in, expecting, hoping, praying for some continuation of my first 5 days of weight loss. (I’m still hesitating on my weigh-in, right now.)
  • I’ve had some late-night snack runs, and even while I was eating only tamari-salted almonds and honeycrisp apples, I know I was giving in to some craving, rather than listening for hunger.
  • I let my laziness con me into eating a sugar filled “organic” cereal when I ran out of my uber-healthy cereal.
  • I’m happy with me, but I’m dreading weighing myself.

Today is the start of the second lap on my renewed fitness and wellness program. I’m happy and content with what I’ve learned and where I’m heading. Two big holidays are right ahead, and I feel empowered rather than restricted by my choices away from sugar and stuffing myself.

As I love myself a bit more, I’m able to see how caring for my fitness is part of that relationship. The relationship between body and mind may be the core that I am strengthening in this process. Sure, we need to do core exercises too, but for me, the emotional healing is harder to address than the physical. We can all eat better and exercise more, and we can all make ourselves miserable.

I declare my misery over. I am in the process of creating a new song of myself. I am singing my own praises and basking in the glow of every success. And even the missed opportunities have lessons, maybe lessons that are rooted in deep and unconscious memories.

Here’s to a happy start for November, my birth month, where I typically get a surge of energy and clearer focus for the next year to come. This is MY month, baby, I’m here to take it.

Take the next step,

John McElhenney
@fitbytech

fitbytech-murray-hendrix

Bill Murray is a hero of self-acceptance, and my most memorable “brush with greatness.” And Jimi Hendrix and I share Nov. as our birth month. Let’s be more musical and loving towards ourselves and others.
–bill murray promo photo, creative commons usage

First Milestone and a Remarkable Result

It’s about not beating myself up or starving myself. I am not in this to lose weight, I’m in this to change my lifestyle towards a sustainable and healthy diet.

I knew I was winning the early war, when I started and my weight was 149.6. That was HIGH. I’m not sure how I got there, but I figured the first week would show some pretty quick readjustments back down. But I had no idea that I would drop 7 pounds. Wow.

My easy start was too easy. I wish there were some way to maintain this rate of loss, but I’m pretty sure I will plateau pretty soon after 235, my previous average fat weight.

Still, I am pretty happy with the resilience of my body. I didn’t do anything extreme. Here’s what I did.

  • I avoided all desserts
  • I dropped all sugar and sodas
  • I had apples, bananas, and low-salt mixed nuts for snacks
  • I drank primarily water
  • Primary food intake to meat and vegetables
  • Zero processed or pre-packaged foods
  • I exercised all but one day

That’s all pretty simple. It’s my plan, I know what I need to do, and now I just have to find ways to keep doing it. When I fall off the path, like I did on Saturday, I just wake up and get back to my program. Easy. Nothing extreme. No major life upsets, just some gentle life adjustments.

Mostly however, it’s about not beating myself up or starving myself. I am not in this to lose weight, I’m in this to change my lifestyle towards a sustainable and healthy diet. Sure, I’m going to have queso and tex-mex from time to time. But as a routine, I’m going to pull back to meat, vegetables, and fresh food. Period.

And then I’m going to keep going. I don’t have a goal in mind. I have a lifestyle in mind. I have a way of feeling in mind. And this kickstart has really given me some positive reinforcement. I AM on the right path, I just have to keep walking.

Take the next step,

John McElhenney
@fitbytech

image: my fuelband report for last week