Tag Archives: take the next step

My Rational Approach to Diet and Fitness

Wellness is a lifelong quest. And fitness, or in my terms, feeling and looking more fit than I do now, is also a life goal. While I have struggled for a good portion of my adult life with weight gain, I decided at the beginning of this month to take on my health and fitness in the same way I have taken on some of my other challenges in life. I launched this blog as a way to share and track my own commitment and growth in this process.

Here’s what I told a fitness coach who reached out to me recently.

“At the moment, I’m going my own way, working with my emotions and eating, a bit organically, with some incidental support and lots of discipline and rational exercise and diet.”

At the heart of my plan is self-guided, self-exploratory awareness of what I eat, why I eat it, and how it makes me feel. As a result I’m also watching how I can reduce all forms of sugar intake. Add to that a goal of hitting my exercise goal 5-times a week.

It’s been a while since my last “check-in” and I know I’ve been challenged a bit lately with 100% adherence to my no-sugar October, but I’m positive and happy with how I’m progressing. I’m not weighing in all the time, because I can see how my weight can vary based on salt intake, water intake, and minor constipation, so that it can become more of a distraction than a motivational tool.

Are a few misses that happened over the last week.

  • 2 X big sugar intake choices
  • my son’s birthday cake
  • next day, a few spoons of ice cream and some chocolate bark
  • 2 X pizza – rather than something more healthy
  • 3 days of physical exercise rather than 5 (day 1 due to some business commitments and day 2 due to laziness)

In my rational process (meaning within reason, and not extreme) I can merely restart my program in the morning. Every morning.

When I slip, either by choice, or by craving, I can make a note of what’s going on. Did I decide to give in? Did I let the craving get too intense so I couldn’t control it? Or was I merely responding to bad choices and bad snack items in my sister’s house, where I’m house sitting for the week?

My goal, in this process, and recorded on this blog, is to take my own time, learn what I learn, and share what I understand as I go along.

The answers don’t really matter all that much to me today. This evening I made food for my daughter and son based on their desires and choices. And I had some lean chicken prepared by the local grocery store. Again, my goal is improvement and commitment to my growth (or in this case, reduction) in self-awareness and physical fitness. Ultimately I want to live a happier and fuller life by improving my fitness, getting my waistline back in line with my physical frame, and improving my energy and resilience during the course of any given day.

Today, Sunday, I napped when I could have walked. I took the path of leisure, even as I was writing and being very productive elsewhere. I didn’t walk. But I’m rested, happy, and only slightly bloated from the chocolate earlier. Or is that just guilt?

I got back on the horse the minute I took the last little piece of chocolate. I reset and reconnected with my goals. Water and sleep at a rational hour tonight. Tomorrow I get my kids up and off to school and I kick off another week of rational eating, rational exercise, and conscious explorations of both aspects of my new path towards health.

I’ve got a very good friend (my daily “hey” check-in) who is a life coach. And today I had a fitness coach hit me up due to a mutual friend. And while I value their expertise, my path is not about training harder, or even correctly. It’s not about amping up to go for my dreams. My goal, in this process, and recorded on this blog, is to take my own time, learn what I learn, and share what I understand as I go along.

Weeks 1 – 3 were awesome and clean. This last week was less perfect, but HAPPY. That’s the ultimate test of how I’m doing. If I’m suffering greatly as a result of the process, I’m not doing it right. If I’m learning and growing from my exploration of new ideas and new lessons that do connect with me, then I am going in the right direction. That’s the real goal, keep stepping in the right direction and making choices to step away from things that are less healthy.

Sounds simple. And the logic is simple. The process is what I’ll share here, in all it’s wavering progress.

Take the next step,

John McElhenney

Oh yeah, and a few observations. The cake on Saturday led to my weakness for sweets on Sunday. Ack. And both times I ate pizza I was merely being lazy. And I noted the bloated feeling from the cheese, flour, and oil. Fats, fats, fats. I definitely feel a bit better in my body when I’m slightly hungry and not FULL.

image: daily steps, daily exercise, john mcelhenney, cc 2014

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

image: my fuelband report for last week

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