I’ve had back problems for a long time. In fact, I was born with one less vertebrae. That means a couple of things. I could have been an inch or two taller and maybe I wouldn’t have back problems if said missing vertebrae wasn’t actually missing. But, it is what it is, right? In the last five years or so my health has really gone south. I gained a lot of weight and stopped all serious exercise. Much of the lack of exercise was not by choice. It hurt too badly or I simply could not do it. Some of it was laziness and lack of effort or desire as well. So, after years of pain and difficulty, I finally succumbed to the surgeons scalpel. So far I think it was a pretty good decision. Actually, it really wasn’t much of a decision at all but rather my final and only option.
In May of 2012, after fully recovering from surgery and searching high and low for the right exercise options, I decided I’d had enough. I used to be an athlete (played every sport, and some half decently) and I was always active, so being out of shape was not cool for me. It definitely wasn’t healthy. I joked about eating poorly, I joked about not exercising, I joked about my back — but really I was just bummed out about my slow and steady decline into inactivity. So I made a very conscious decision to do something about it. Since that time (the picture on the right), I’ve riden my road bike nearly 4,000 miles. I’ve lost about 30 pounds (the photo on the left). And I’m just getting started!
If you are out of shape, for any reason, I think you should join me in the battle to be healthy again. And for me, it is a battle. A daily one.
If you are reading this and you are overweight and out of shape, don’t make fun of it any longer. Don’t tease or joke about how you eat poorly and never exercise. I used to do the same. It’s a defense mechanism. We all want to live happy, fun and productive lives. So let’s help each other do that. I know I need your help and maybe you could use a bit of mine (or someone else’s). If even one of you join in, that would be great. If more of you join in, even better. There is strength in numbers! I have some great help along the way so far. My friends at Bountiful Bike have gone out of their way to get me setup with cycling. I’d highly recommend you visit them if you have any biking needs.
So we have a team forming and a plan coming together. From here, this is what I’d propose:
This works for me. I want to post when I am exercising, what I eat, and other things related to my health and fitness (including my weight). I think we should come up with a hashtag or some other tool to track the good and the bad of our efforts. I know it is annoying to see these types of updates sometimes, but I really don’t care. I want to encourage you as you achieve, and support you as you struggle. I need the same support and encouragement too! My goal right now is to lose a final 20 pounds by March 2013. So for me, that means I have to buckle down on the exercise AND eat better. I’ll be posting on various social networks (much to the chagrin of some) about both of these things as I look for support and feedback along the way. If you have an idea for a hashtag, please leave it in the comments. It’d be nice for us to use one to stay connected and search updates (via Twitter and Instagram anyway). What is your goal? Is it an amount of weight to lose or something else?
Speaking of accountability, here is a weight loss tracker that updates my progress since I started earlier in 2012. This needs to get to 56 pounds before I near my goal.
No Fad Diets Or Crazy Stuff
We are trying to make sustainable changes to our behavior here. So no crazy pills or fad diets, okay? Let’s all eat a little better and move a little more. In fact, let’s get way more specific about it then that. I’m going to cut down my food portions. I’m still going to eat bread, steaks and other stuff — just less of them. I’m going to dramatically cut my intake of sweets. I don’t think cutting things out entirely that I like is a sustainable plan for me. In fact, a lot of studies show that it is not sustainable for anyone. So a lot less sweets and smaller portions of the bad stuff. I’ll pick healthier options more often, too. No salads every meal, but I’ll make more healthy choices then not. I’m going to use the My Fitness Pal app to track what I eat so I can be sure I’m eating what I plan to. What are you going to do with your food and dietary choices? What app are you going to use?
Exercise A LOT
I love to exercise. I really do. That doesn’t mean it isn’t hard sometimes though. It is really hard to get started. When it is cold and dark, and the wind is blowing, or the air is freezing, I am rarely excited to get suited up and go for a bike ride. But I do. And you can to. Why? Because almost without exception I feel better afterwards. I’m glad I went! The starting is the hard part. So, with that, I’m committing to exercising 5-6 days a week for at least 1.5 hours per workout in January, February and March. I will use Strava to track this (an app that tracks biking, but also other exercise) so that I will know how I’m doing in terms of number of days per week and time per workout. You need to have an app that tracks what you do. If you can, get a device that tracks it as well (like a FitBit or Nike Fuel). You cannot improve what you do not measure. How often will you exercise as part of this? I think you too should pick five days a week. The amount of time is up to you, but the number of days needs to be high — so join me in five, okay?
Do Not Wait!
Don’t wait until Monday. Don’t wait until January 1st. This is not a resolution related effort. I don’t really believe in New Years resolutions anyway. If you want to change, start now. Start today. Every day you wait is another day you’ll have to catch up to later, so let’s go! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — waiting is what got us here. So no more waiting, time to get started. Today.
Do Not Give Up!
This is about not quitting probably more then anything else. If you have a bad meal, or a bad day, then start over right away. Start with the next meal. Start with the next morning. Do not quit. I am allowed some mistakes and so are you. However, we cannot string together too many bad meals or too many days without exercising. If we do, progress will not be made. Commit to the next meal. Commit to the next workout. You can do this. One day at a time.
I want you to be hard on me if I do not exercise. If I don’t lose weight (or worse, gain it), I don’t want to hear “that’s okay”. Because it’s not. That kind of coddling and can’t do attitude is what got me here. It’s what got you here, too. So no more. The world is often a mean place. Many times too mean. At the same time though, I think we are all too willing to give someone (or ourselves) a free pass. If you join this effort, there is no free pass. You either keep up with your eating and fitness, or you get booted out of the group. As I said earlier, we all make mistakes and mess up here and there (as I have and as I will), but that’s not what I’m talking about. This is for those of you that continually come up with excuses. Those won’t fly in this group. Save yourself the trouble of not joining if you can’t keep your commitments. Remember, it is your plan, not mine. So this effort will only be to hold you accountable for what you said you are going to do. Discipline and accountability go a long way in life, not just for this. So get better at both or get out.
OKAY! Let’s get started in the comments below. I’d like to know the following:
Your Twitter and Instagram names (so we can connect and communicate there).
Your suggested hashtag for this team effort — I’ll start, how about #FitLife ?
Your public accountability goal (what we can ask you about online) — number or pounds lost by X date, etc.
What is your eating/dietary plan? What are you cutting back on?
What is your exercise plan? How many days a week and for how long?
What apps will you be using to track your food and your exercise (so we can connect there).