In 2009, I watched as Donna Downey slowly (or quickly in some cases) lost an amazing amount of weight. At the time, I told myself that she was doing a diet where you had to eat prepackaged food and those diets never worked for me. She was boxing in her garage and I didn’t even have a garage. She was running regularly and I am completely incapable of running at all. So 2009 came and went and I watched Donna get healthier and happier.
Then, in 2010, Cathy Zielske decided to tackle her health and body as well. She was simply eating less and moving more. She began running too. She shed weight and became healthier and healthier.
And I stopped reading her blog.
I couldn’t watch it anymore. It was a glaring reminder of the fact that I wanted to do this exact same thing and I had no excuse whatsoever for not doing it. I kept saying next week, next month, next year.
And then one day, on October 1, I decided I’d had enough. I decided that this was my life now. Every minute that passed was too late. If I was putting my health first then I best get started doing so. I didn’t want to wait another year. Or even another day. On October 2, 2010, I got up and started walking.
I have walked/run every single day since. Every. Day.
I’m writing this post on December 17, 2010. So far, I’ve lost 18lbs. And here’s what my nike+ chart looks like:
77 consecutive days of exercise. 136 (actually 137 cause it was off one day) miles of exercise. The calories are meaningless to me cause until recently I didn’t have the right weight in the tool and I don’t keep updating it.
This is the biggest portion of this project for me. I’ve done diets my whole life. I can stop eating almost anything for almost any amount of time. But I have never exercised this much before in my life.
And i am not just exercising of course. I am also watching what I eat and I am parking away from my destination so I walk more, etc. I am not super-active since I work from home and my job is mostly done sitting on the couch. I do have a little boy so I am a bit more active than I usually am but I would not put me in an active category. So the exercise is super-important.
For me, what really made it all work is the nike+. I had bought it on a whim when I saw Cathy write about it but it sat on my desk for months. When I finally started walking, I used it from day one. And having the visual representation of my walks really helped me. I just love logging in every day and seeing another bar. No matter how high or low. Just proof that I worked out.
I went through a patch during mid-November where my left knee hurt a lot so I started walking only 1 mile a day and I went to the doctor (it was runner’s knee) and just slowed down. It was hard to go back to working out longer than 1 mile after that and I struggled for a while. Then I bought a new pair of shoes. The ones I’d been wearing were from years ago and they were never professionally fitted. I went to a running store around where I live and the saleswoman took her time, measured me several times, watched me walk, had me try several pairs and I came home with a new pair. My knee hasn’t hurt since. And as of November 30, I started a new routine where I walk 2.0 miles and I run for 0.5 miles.
Here’s my full plan for 2011 (most of it is continuing what I’ve been doing so far):
1. Work out everyday. No matter what. Even if just 1 mile. Minimum 1 mile.
2. Keep doing 2+0.5 and eventually work your way to 2(walk)+1.1(run) and ideally maybe even get to 3.1 miles (5K) of running a day if I can do it.
3. Eat at least 2-3 servings of veggies every day.
4. Eat some protein every day (even if a little)
5. Minimize the amount of processed food you eat as much as possible
6. Drink water
7. No more than 3 (ideally 2) coffees a day (there’s a long story here but I am not quitting the coffee yet.)
8. Introduce weight training (light) 3 times a week
9. Work your way to 10 pushups a day 3 times a week
So those are some of my goals. Ideally, I’ll end up running 5K a day and doing weights or pushups 6 days of the week. If this seems a lot please know that running is not fast running, it means going right above the speed where I can’t really walk so i have to run. So it’s super-slow running. And same with weights, we’re talking 1-3lbs weights. I am just trying to keep my body active. I am not trying to obtain huge muscles or become a runner.
Food is a weird issue for me because I don’t eat much of it. I never have. I don’t cook and so I often just eat whatever is super simple. Ever since I made this shift, I have not snacked, sneaked, or cheated at all. I have no desire to. I don’t think of this as a diet and so I crave nothing. This is a life plan for me. I am determined to make it. So McDonalds or Taco Bell has nothing on me. I don’t drink anything but water and this pre-made coffee I love. The coffee is not great for me but it’s filling and it helps me in other comforting ways. So for now, it stays.
Since I don’t cook, I wanted to find a plausible solution to eating more veggies and protein. I cook for my kids but I knew if I relied on coking for myself I wouldn’t do a good job most days. I found this frozen bag of mixed veggies: corn, peas, lima beans, green beans, carrots. I eat half a bag each day. It’s not the very best veggies since corn is starchy and peas too but it’s oodles better than graham crackers for nutrition. I also cook fresh veggies at least 1-2 times a week and have leftovers. Generally zucchini because both Nathaniel and I love it.
For protein, I either buy fresh sole and cook it (which again both of us love) or I am getting roasted chicken, tearing it apart and eating it all week long. A little bit each day. It’s cheap, healthy because it has no additives or sauces or anything, and it’s already cooked.
Some days I also eat high-fiber veggie soups. And I always have fresh fruit washed and ready in the fridge so if I need a snack, I get fruit.
Maybe eventually I will cook more and things will change. But for now, this is the plan. It’s relatively fresh and healthy. I still have my coffee and now I eat a few graham crackers each day, I plan to reduce those and replace with fruit or yogurt eventually. But I am not sweating it for now.
I drink a ton of water most days so I am not sweating that either.
One other thing I decided a few months ago is that I wanted to get a reward for each month I worked out. Not for losing weight or working out long or fast. Just doing it day after day for 30 (or 31) consecutive days. Since I am trying to lose weight, I didn’t want to make it food related. So I am buying a piece of clothing each month. Mostly from anthropologie so far. I started with things like jackets and blouses which I expect will still fit me at the end of the year. Eventually, I hope to move to pants/skirts/dresses. I love getting to go shop (even though I normally hate shopping) knowing that it’s my reward for a lot of hard work.
The way I track exercise progress is the nike+. When I add the other exercises, I will have to find another system for that. For food, I don’t track too closely right now but in the new year I will. I will likely use google docs and I have a new weight watchers calculator that uses their new system. And, finally, I weigh myself on the Wii Fit every Wednesday. I don’t have a scale and I trust the computer more than my eyes. The wii fit tells me the change in my BMI and the change in my weight which is all I need to know. In the beginning of 2011, I will also take measurements for my hips, arms, and waist so I can track those once a month.
I made a little template to fill each week (ignore the text, it’s pasted from a weekly gratitude post.):
In case you want one too, you can download my template here.
I bought a little colorful album from target and will be putting my weekly cards in there:
That’s the plan.
To me, this is the most important project for 2011. I will let go of everything else before I let this one go.
Here’s to getting healthy for life.