Tag Archives: fitness

Time for a Fitness and Health Accounting

It’s easy to know when you are losing weight or getting more fit. Your clothes begin to feel loose. People may begin to ask about your fitness. “You look great,” might become a refrain you hear from friends. It’s a great moment. It’s also a temptation for me to celebrate with some unconscious eating.

This week we had my mom over for dinner. And of course we needed dessert. I got one thing I didn’t want and one thing I did. Turns out my guests ate the Oreo ice cream sandwiches but left the Heath Klondike bars. Guess who ate every. single. one of them? (frown)

Okay, so we get back up, we keep going. We thank people for the complements, but we don’t give our body-mind connection to go soft. I knew what I was doing when I bought the Klondikes. I was buying something I wanted. I was giving myself a treat. Not an issue, but not the beginning of a pattern either.

Back to the normal fitness and health improvement regimine.

So it’s been over 6 months since I added my love-interest and training-partner. And I can say my clothes are fitting better. I’m thinking of getting a new pair of jeans, that fits tighter. I like who I’m looking without a shirt, more and more. As a goal, I am moving gracefully into a healthier lifestyle and ongoing exercise program with the support and love of another person who’s already mastered their own eating-running lifestyle.

I’m even starting to run myself. Even when I don’t want to (I’d rather walk) I’m doing 1/3 runs on my walks. I’m getting ready to restart my competitive tennis activities. Right in the heat of the Summer. Oh boy. But right there beside me, is my partner and enthusiast, giving me ideas, asking me “what are you going to do today.” And she’s talking about getting in my workout.

It’s great if you can find someone to partner with. It’s really fine if they become life partners, and you begin cooking together, running together, and supporting each other in your healthier and healthier lifestyle.

Now comes the accounting.

I need to weigh in. Not that weight is my uber-goal, fitness and health is, but I have begun avoiding it. I don’t really want to know HOW MUCH I’ve lost. I’d rather keep it in the abstract and imagine. But I do want to know.

When we started I was at 240+. And that amazed me. I’d love to shoot for 200 even at some point. I know I’m not there. I know I feel and look better. But I don’t know how much better. I don’t have a measurement on my fitness level.  I know I can walk up the bigass hill much more easily. I know that my overall energy is much better. And I know a lot of this enthusiasm and joy has to do with my workout program and my joyful partner.

But how much?


Tomorrow. I’ll do it tomorrow. (Really.)

Take the next step,

John McElhenney

related posts:


Destination Me < Here < Now

Being aware of my hungers and cravings, or should I say, getting to recognize and pay attention to them, has been an eye-opening experience. A few of the things I’m getting in touch with

  • I eat when I’m bored
  • I crave sweets at odd times, but often late at night
  • The longer I stay up at night, the more opportunities I have to snack, and late-night snacks are always a bad idea
  • Calories are calories, but it’s harder to over eat on veggies and lean meats
  • By being a bit more conscious about having healthy snacks around can save me a lot of hassle

I’m listening to my own feelings around food and hunger. Sometimes when I have a craving (“I’d love some popcorn.”) I’m really just bored, and the snack is more of a form of entertainment. I don’t need to eat for fun any more. There are a lot better choices I can make for entertainment.

And on that late night snacking, there are a couple options.

  • Just say no (When my resolution is high, this is easy.)
  • Going to bed earlier (My body likes it, and I wake up earlier.)
  • Having a piece of fruit
  • Drinking a glass of water
  • Recognizing they “why” so I can address the need rather than the craving

This weekend I had a number of cravings and I don’t think I allowed any of them to talk me into a snack. I’ve been using almonds and honeycrisp apples as my go-to snacks. I know I need to add some variety, because I’m craving other things, and when my go-tos are not appetizing, I’m more at risk.

And just like emotional baggage, I’m ready to leave a good bit of it behind.

It’s all a kind of game. Like the board game Sorry. Either you are moving ahead towards the goal, or you’ve been slapped back a few spaces. And if I can get in the competitive spirit, even with myself alone, I can challenge myself to ignore the 1am sweet attack.

I had a bit of catsup on a french fry during the week, but I stopped after three bites. I knew there was sugar in it, I gave in for a few bites and then my resolve kicked back in. “This stuff is not that good. I’m just eating it out of habit.” And I stopped.

The drinking of water only has been easy. (Of course I love my coffee with a bit of 1% milk in the morning. But I really only dive after sugar and sweets occasionally, so the whole dropping sugar thing has been relatively easy.

My kids are hilarious. They cannot imagine why I’d declare October as my sugar-free month. “It’s simple,” I told them tonight as they were picking at a bag of early Halloween candy. “When I make a decision, that entire bag of candy is off-limits. It’s not even an option.”

I did have one Laughy Taffy on Saturday night, just because I’d been so good. It was okay, but not as tasty as I had imagined it would be. And I didn’t crave anything else. Again, my path is not just denial. I am okay with making a choice to eat something off the plan, and then jump right back on the plan.

I’m okay with me now, but I’d like to be on the lighter-side of my 50’s.

In my emotional body I know that overeating and eating crap has led me to my current weight. And since I was that swimmer in high school, I’ve rarely had any periods in my life when I was happy with my body. I’d like to get back to just being “okay” with me.

I’m okay with me now, but I’d like to be on the lighter-side of my 50’s. And I’d like a relationship with someone who is also in relatively good shape. I’m active and playing a lot of tennis, but I’m doing it carrying a lot of extra baggage. And just like emotional baggage, I’m ready to leave a good bit of it behind.

Take the next step,

John McElhenney

Note: At this moment, it’s 7:40 on Monday night. I didn’t eat a very big meal. I’m hungry again. All I’ve got it my apples and almonds. (frown) I’d love to hear some other folk’s healthy snack ideas. And what do you use to kill a craving (salt or sugar)? And that bag of Halloween candy is starting to call to me.

image: my weekend scruffy tennis joy, john mcelhenney, cc 2014

An Animal Hunger

Today I noticed an interesting feeling. I was depositing a check at the bank, the same bank I was at last Saturday when my life was falling apart. And there was the same Yoghurt shop and the same temptation. But I had a different reaction today.

I was finished with my deposit and as I was walking out of the bank I noticed how hungry I was. And this hunger was sort of interesting. It was like the opposite of bloating. I was sort of like a lean animal in look of a meal. And I noticed my craving to have some yoghurt, but my body and my hunger was for something more substantial. I wondered to myself, maybe this is genuine hunger rather than a craving.

I’m going to look at what’s going on in my animal body and my emotional body before I make a decision one way or another.

Something else was pretty interesting as well. I liked the lean feeling I had in my stomach. I was hungry, I could tell I was hungry, and in turning away from the frozen treat, I was turning towards the hunger and the real craving for food, the healthier the better. And I imagined this good feeling, this lean feeling, could also be something a person could become addicted to. Like, instead of craving yogurt you crave the empty feeling of being hungry. Again, like an animal in the hunt for a meal.

How much of our daily eating is due to a craving or unhealthy imbalance of nutrition, and how much of it is habit. I have been in the habit of eating poorly. I like the feeling of my body eating well. And tonight as I ate a lean meat and vegetables only dinner, I liked how I was feeling. I even liked how I was thinking.

Sure, I’d like the occasional sweet. But for the rest of October, anytime I make that choice I’m going to look at what’s going on in my animal body and my emotional body before I make a decision one way or another.

Take the next step,

John McElhenney

image: eat healthy, creative commons usage

Inspiration: I found this post on JLo a bit inspirational about her “veggie” diet and how it made her feel.

“I was so used to just eating the way I grew up.”
JLo’s Abs on Huffington Post

Baby Steps and Clear Intentions

shadowontrailFitness is not a get rich quick scheme. In my opinion all the fast-diets are fads and often not healthy. Sure you might drop some weight in a cleanse, but you’re destined to put it back on unless the change is sustainable by your lifestyle changes.

An early reader responded on Twitter, “You can’t out exercise a poor diet.”

I know fitness is a lifetime journey, not a quick adjustment or a magic pill. It’s also not a “diet” diet, but a choice to move towards healthy real foods and away from processed foods. Of course it’s about dropping sugar from the menu as often as possible. And then when you do indulge, making note of how your body reacts to the blast of calories and empty energy.

I have been walking and playing tennis 3 – 5 times a week for two years. And today, I’m as heavy as I’ve ever been. I was hoping that just by upping my exercise and being consistent I would encourage my body to sluff off some of the extra weight. Um, no, not happening. I can only imagine, if I hadn’t been exercising.

I am my own test case. Through my experience I hope to share what’s happening emotionally as well as physically as I work to make changes in my life.

Of course at 51 (52 in November of this year) everything is changing. I can’t just drop sugary sodas and count on the 5 pound drop that I used to. I can’t just skip desserts and hope for the best. Nope, this is going to require a major overhaul. And it’s a process I walk into with some trepidation and some fear. I don’t really want to give up Ben and Jerry’s.

However, I know when my body is more finely tuned I will be more happy in my body. I will sleep better. I will require less coffee during the day to keep my energy up. I will be more attractive to women who today would see me as “fat.” Ouch. I really hate the shame that comes with the bad body image messages that I tell myself.

I was writing a post the other day and as I was describing myself, in my current physical condition, I was likening myself to a nice classic BMW with some body damage. That was a simple metaphor for me to get in touch with the fact that I don’t want the body damage any more. I want to be a classic ’52 with no body damage, and eventually a bit of spit and polish and new tires.

I’m striking out, in an unplanned and unpremeditated way to change my life.

I have struggled with depression and other emotional issues from time to time in my life. But what’s astounding to me at the moment, is I am not unhappy. I am not stressed out. I claim to be happy. So why am I so overweight? Can our optimism and positive attitudes create a false sense of self? Or am I making too much of this fitness aspect?

And then I watch how I look at and measure women as I’m walking down the running trail. From a long distance away I can get a sense if they are in my range, or out of my range, of desirability and fitness. This is about body and proportions, way before I can see if they have a pretty face or a nice smile. I know I do this. And I know I must be doing this with myself. So is the denial, the positivism about my life and well-being, blinding me to my own weight.

I’d have to say, today, I believe my answer is yes. And I’m striking out, in an unplanned and unpremeditated way to change my life. I’ve wanted to do this before, but I’ve always felt like I needed a sponsor, or a business that would “do” me.

Today I AM THE PROJECT. I am my own test case. And through my experience I hope to share what’s happening for me emotionally as well as physically as I work and plan to make changes in my life.

On Monday, I stared a food diary as I started this blog. And I’m consciously eliminating as much sugar as possible from my diet. In cataloging and weighing in from time to time I hope to see the relationship between what I eat, when I eat it, and how I progress towards my goal of getting leaner and more fit.

Take the next step,

John McElhenney

image: shadows on the trail, john mcelhenney, cc 2014

Starting with the Body I Have Now

It’s easy for me to see the last area of mastery in my life is diet and fitness. The two are inextricably tied together. I have had various levels of fitness in my life. From my ultrafit moment as a teenage swimmer in high school. To my obese periods, usually marked by a hard depression.

I am fat. Most of the time I don’t feel fat. But a picture or a step on the scale tends to sober my happiness and positive body image up a bit.

Today I’ve got most of the emotional issues under management, but it’s the diet, eating right, part of the equation that I’m setting off to learn more about and to use as the final frontier between me and unlocking the me I know I can be. I’m not aiming for my swimming body, but I’m clear that I am carrying 30 or so pounds (50?) of unnecessary weight. And while I’m “comfortable with myself” at this moment, I am aware that I’m not at a level of fitness that would make me very attractive to myself. If I was a woman, I wouldn’t date me. ACK. That’s kind of a bummer. And I’m thinking most of the relationships I’d like to have are with women who are quite a bit more fit than I am.

And I don’t think fitness and diet can be attacked separately. I have been upping my activity and my workouts methodically over the last two years. And while I’m pretty regular at 5-days a week, I’m also at one of the heaviest periods of my adult life. What? What gives?

Let’s see. I’m exercising but I’m still eating poorly. I’m still going for the gut-killing late night snacks. And my choices, at this point, are awful. So how can I clean up my snacks, address my imbalances metabolically, and even up the quality and quantity of my exercise to reach a fitness level that I know I’m capable of. If I could coordinate my efforts, and combine some of the technologies and software programs available for free, maybe I could unlock the last chapter in my lifelong struggle to maintain a healthy fitness level.

Often what we feel is not the reality of the situation. I feel happy and fulfilled and attractive.

I am out of balance right now in one main area of my life. Fitness. I am fat. Most of the time I don’t feel fat. But a picture or a step on the scale tends to sober my happiness and positive body image up a bit. I’m heavy. I occasionally feel bloated. A few of my pants, that I wore comfortably a few years ago are too tight to button up. DAMN. I guess the hunt is on.

For the most part I am emotionally happy. I’d like to be in a relationship, but that’s partially unfulfilled due to my lack of attention and perhaps, I’d hate to admit it, due to my fatness and not my fitness. I don’t think I’m fat. Isn’t that funny? I don’t feel unhealthy. In fact, emotionally I’m as healthy as I’ve ever been in my life. BUT, that’s not the point.

Often what we feel is not the reality of the situation. I feel happy and fulfilled and attractive. And there are plenty of women who would find me attractive right at this very moment. But given a preference, I’d prefer a woman of a certain fitness. Not uber-fit, but active. And while I’d say I’m very active, I’m also not within that range of fitness that I would find within my levels of attractiveness.

Let’s change that.

John McElhenney