My weight loss & fitness journey: the first 2 months
Creeping closer to forty presents a lot of realities that go beyond the numbers four and zero getting placed on your age. You notice less hair, grayer hair, subtle and not so subtle aches and pains, and if you’re not careful, an increasing waistline. My thirties were good years, but all of those things I mentioned were also apart of them. Especially an increase in weight. For most of my life, keeping my weight down has been fairly easy. Considering some of the bowel issues i’ve battled, i’ve had some help with keeping my weight in a fairly decent place despite having a sedentary job, drinking sodas, and eating at places like On The Border. However, there came a point a few years ago when my health wasn’t as good as I thought it should be. That is when I also started to wonder if I really was doing enough on my own terms to be as healthy as I could be. Twelve years ago I started a sedentary lifestyle that has more or less continued to this day due to my career. As the years have passed, i’ve started to realize that relying on a bowel issue (more or less exclusively) to keep your weight down was no longer an option. Making decisions to change snacking habits, decrease soft drink intake, increase water drinking, etc are all choices I made that resulted in feeling better. I managed to lose weight along the way, but nothing significant. Much like the rest of my life, I spent the past few years repeating the same cycles with little to no results.
A little extra motivation
When I started creating this website, I wanted to gear a story around me trying to lose weight and get into better shape leading up to my 40th birthday in 2019. However, my most recent yearly check up gave me some test results that provided a little extra motivation for this year. It had more to do with cholesterol levels and the health of my blood than it did my weight. Despite the effort i’d been putting in to eat more fruits, vegetables, and cut down on sodas, it still wasn’t enough keep my levels in the normal range. It was enough for me to start thinking a little more about how to be even healthier in 2018. Doing some research on what increases LDL cholesterol in your blood made me realize that I wasn’t doing enough to prevent this from happening. I am a big time consumer of foods like eggs, cheese, and soft drinks (I am down to 1-2 cans per day for the most part). Even with a fairly healthy diet, too much of this stuff can be enough to give you high LDL levels in your blood. Considering the history of heart disease in my family, I knew that taking action on this sooner rather than later was the only option I could take.
Starting a diet during the winter is not an easy choice. Especially if you are looking to incorporate better fitness into the mix. Between mostly freezing temperatures and battling two colds during the first month, I have to admit that the idea of incorporating more exercise into my life has been difficult. Luckily we’ve had a few warm days thrown in there that I’ve been able to take advantage of with hiking adventures at the Appalachian Trail, Washington Monument State Park in Maryland, Harpers Ferry in West Virginia, and walks around my own neighborhood. After a little over a month of trying to be a more active person, it is obvious to me that this is my biggest challenge. I have taken full advantage of the warmer days mother nature has given me, but I am also very mentally locked in to my weight loss goals at this point in the year. A trend I hope will continue beyond the firs quarter of this year.
Making dietary changes: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner
Incorporating a healthier breakfast on a more consistent basis is probably one of the biggest factors in how I lost 20 pounds over the first month of my diet. Over the years i’ve gotten used to eating amazing homemade breakfasts prepared by my wife. We have spent a good percentage of our relationship on contrasting work schedules. As a result, we tend to prepare our meals in bulk on the weekend in order to make eating meals easier during the week. This is an awesome idea that has helped to keep homemade food in my belly, but these delicious sandwiches were often filled with the cheese, bacon, and other tasty ingredients that probably helped to make my LDL cholesterol high. Sadly, after my most recent physical, I made the decision to put an end to these delicious breakfast sandwiches despite how much I love them. This also meant cutting back on breakfast at the awesome local diner I frequented often as well. The replacement? a bowl of oatmeal for atleast five days a week. This may sound like a difficult transition to make in such a short time, but for some reason I was able to get into the proper mindset and make the change. I’ve heard over the past year that it takes about 21 days of doing the same new habit in order to cancel out the old one. However, googling the topic gave me a listing of blogs and articles that say this isn’t true. Frankly, it didn’t take me too long to get used to the idea of making changes in my lifestyle and applying them for more than one or two weeks this time around. The only thing I can attribute this to is that I truly want to do it this time.
Breakfast wasn’t the only meal that needed a change. My lunches haven’t always been very healthy either. Local restaurants with amazing pizza, cheese steaks, and other delicious fatty foods also contributed to my weight and LDL cholesterol. Especially since most of what I was eating contained too much dairy (especially cheese!), meat, and processed foods. When googling LDL cholesterol, I noticed that cheese was frequently highlighted as a leading cause to raising these levels. Considering my love for cheese, I have to imagine that this played role in how my LDL cholesterol got so high. Eating 2 slices of pizza plus a delicious cheesy egg sandwich couldn’t have been good for my levels. In the long run, I hope that just by cutting back on cheese itself, my levels down a little bit.
Dinner is probably the easiest meal of the day for me thanks to all of the delicious healthy meals my wife comes up with every week. She is amazing at finding meals that we can cook, pack up in containers, refrigerate, and eat throughout the week. This might not be a great option if you like a little more variety in your meals everyday. However, if you can tolerate eating pretty much the same meal for 3-5 days, this can be a great, efficient way to eat healthy. We tend to make meat, potato, and veggie meals, but sometimes our meals will be a pasta dish of some sort. If you can make several different meals prior to the work week then that is great, but I highly recommend coming up with a delicious dish you can put together and package in a short amount of time for the week. Thanks to this idea, I haven’t had to make a lot of changes to the way I eat dinner. As far as I know, I am already doing ok here based on the meals we’ve put together.
Motivation and Mindset
When reflecting on the first two months of my diet, I wanted to pinpoint what is different this time. As of today, almost two months into my diet, i’ve lost 20 pounds. A pretty good accomplishment considering it is February. I’ve been lucky to have a few warm days where I could get out and exercise. I’ve also made a lot of changes to my diet. Coming down with 2 colds has also helped as I spent some time drinking a lot more than I was eating. Especially when I had the flu. These are all very important factors that have helped, but I think it comes down to more than deciding to make a few lifestyle changes. For me, it comes down to motivation and mindset. Within my day to day life, I tend to be pretty motivated, but I don’t think i’ve always had the best mindset about my diet. I either relied on the fact that my bowel issue would keep my weight in check. I always figured I could get away with eating the way I was because of it. Getting motivated to get off the couch and move has become difficult over the years because I had a sedentary job. Thoughts like this caused me to be lazy and inconsistent about the way I took care of myself. Receiving physical results like I got a few months ago plus knowing that I come from a family with a bad history of heart disease was probably what I needed to jumpstart my changes. It showed me that what I was doing wasn’t enough. It showed me that if I don’t start doing more I could wind up in the same position that so many of my family members have wound up in. Luckily, I don’t feel like I am that far away from the recommended weight for a guy of my height. After googling BMI, I managed to find a calculator for it in the first search result. I punched in a few numbers and found that if I lose 50 more pounds I will be in the normal range, a place I haven’t been to in quite a few years.
Do you have any weight loss or fitness goals for yourself this year? Feel free to tell me all about it in the comments! I hope to circle back to this topic in a few weeks with more progress to share. Until then, I plan to continue relying on the two factors that helped me lose the first 20 pounds: motivation and mindset!