How > What > Why?

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 3.00.03 PMGetting fit and staying fit are two different issues. As someone who has struggled to maintain a healthy weight my entire adult life I have been working on new ideas, new technologies, and new approaches to my body image. It’s one thing to be accepting of your weight, or in my case love handles and belly, and it’s another thing to do nothing about it.

I have been working out and exercising aggressively over the last few years. And not much has changed in my weight. I tried a “mostly meat” diet that dropped a quick 15 pounds in less than a month. I’ve added various fitness bands over the last two years as well. And still I struggle at about the same overall weight and fitness level as when I began.

Today marks a new committment to fitness for me. And I want to take you along on my journey. Both as an inspiration to keep going, but also as a view into my hits and misses as I work to slim down and become even more comfortable in my own body. Accepting is one thing, but how about being proud of my own body? That would be amazing.

And it isn’t like I don’t know what to do. Eat less. Eat more healthy. Exercise more. And make some better choices about snacks and rewards that aren’t high fat, high sugar. Oh, and did I mention eliminating sugar.

So it’s not the what or the why, it’s the how? How can I empower myself to do better on all these aspects of my life? Has the fitness band helped me stay motivated? Yes. It is enough to walk more and play more tennis? For me, the answer is a clear No. I need to take everything a step further.

Here’s my approach.

1. Eat better.
Make an ongoing inventory of what I’m eating. Notice when I go for high-cal reward type foods and substitute in low-cal options, or do something else. Go for a walk instead of eating my reward.

2. Make sure my nutrition needs are all being met.
Is there science that I’m ignoring? Are the vitimins or nutritional supplements that might kick start my motivation, progress, or energy?

3. Map and examine everything.
Awareness is a large part of the fitness band motivation. How can I apply the same principles to the eating part of my program? What do I notice about my mood or self-esteem when I’m going for a Ben and Jerry’s Toffee Coffee Crunch binge? Am I eating out of boredom or stress? Am I medicating my emotional ups and downs with comfort foods?

4. The mechanics of weight and physical fitness.
What else should I be doing? Is my 5-times per week routine enough, if I add in a rigorous healthy diet plan? Or do I really need to start running part of the time, in addition to my walking, in order to burn more calories and and get my cardio health in gear?

5. The benefits, progress, and support.
We all need support. Can I self-motivate enough to carry through on this idea? What setbacks will naturally occur (illness, unexpected interruptions) and how do I recover? Fitness and this mode of living is for the long haul. I’m not looking for a fad diet, or a quick solution.

The long-term goal is better awareness of my own unique patterns of exercise, eating, sleeping, and the choices I make about each of those activities. And with this awareness comes the modification: I can eat better, I can work out better, I can loose a good portion of my middle-weight and feel better about myself.

A few weeks ago my 11-yo daughter got on this kick that she was going to help me do a 3-day juice fast. I know we love juices, and I know she is enthusiastic about the process. What I knew deep in my heart was she was wanting to encourage me to loose my gut. She wants a healthier dad, too.

The idea of setting out on this mission is not about publicity or sponsorship. I have often toyed with the idea of seeking a sponsor to pay me to get fit. I have life coach friends who would gladly pitch in. But this is a challenge to myself. Can my transparency and self-understanding transform my relationship to my body and how I feed and care for it? Can self-awareness, self-examination, and a little bit of discipline and technology help me become a fitter man as I approach my 52nd birthday?

I’m sure the answer is yes. And I’m fearless in sharing the experience, in all the future ups and downs. It is a journey. I have already arrived the destination, me.

John McElhenney

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