the power of routine and weekly reflections: 6/30 – 7/6

Change in weight (6/30/20 – 7/6/20):  -2.4 LBS

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This week is a testament to the routine of my betterment journey. It has been around seven months and the weeks are melting together. The best part of this melting together is that the effort and the commitment is turning into a lifestyle. This lifestyle isn’t easy, and it is fraught with frustration and difficulty, but it is becoming more natural. I crossed another milestone this week and have lost over 40 pounds since December 1. 40.2 to be exact. It has take a month to lose 4 pounds since I posted 36 in 6, but despite that slow struggle, I am thankful for every ounce of the change. I feel a hell of a lot different than when I posted my first blog post months ago and I am in such a better emotional place from December 1, 2019.

So what happened over this past week that helped launch me over the 40 pounds lost mark? I think it is a little of everything. I actually didn’t have a week with as much exercise as usual, but I did have more movement. I took Wednesday PM through today off from work for some family time and a mental vacation. This did very good things for me. I got outside with my daughter, did more walks, and had a much lower stress level. Most days my intake was good, though we did have some celebrations with the holiday weekend.

I am not trying to cop out of coming up with a real detailed analysis of my success, but I am not 100% sure if any main action was the driving force in the successful week. I think much of it is because many of the changes I need to make have become internalized. I still can eat too much, but I am better about controlling it than I have been. I find my walks more therapeutic than a “necessary workout”. I also think the lack of stress did great things for me. I didn’t want to stress eat or get snacks out of boredom. So again, it was a little bit of everything.

I did fail at getting my run in this week. I have been trying to stay consistent with one per week, but between heat and time, it didn’t happen. I did feel great with one of my workouts this week where I absolutely crushed my PR in a 45 minute ride on the Peloton. What made it even better was I didn’t want to workout and figured I would just calmly work through an easy one. It shows the power of showing up. Sometimes all it takes is lacing up the shoes or getting yourself to the starting line. That is when your commitment and routine can carry you. I did both All for One Rides that Peloton offered this week. These were 2-45 minute rides that had sections with every instructor. Doing 2-45 minute rides this week was a step up for me and although my number of rides were not as high as usual, my minutes were. Last night also saw my 250th ride on the bike. We have had it for a little over a year and 2/3 of those rides have come since December 1. It is hard to put into words how thankful you can be for something that has become so central to your betterment journey, but I am that thankful.

This week we are trying to do better about our meal planning. Life has been very hectic and we have gotten away from it. We are starting off with some turkey meatballs with veggies and then some grilled chicken later on. I think a week of clean eating will do me good.

I cannot speak enough about the power of this routine. I have been sticking with the key strategies I talked about a couple months ago, and they are helping me continue on. Like I said earlier, it is not necessarily easier, but more manageable to try and impact the change I am seeking. I still have days where I want to sit on the couch and need to build up the will to exercise, but the months of effort make that easier knowing how great I will feel after and knowing the results of my commitment. Where I have noticed so much change is my awareness of what goes into my body. I still have times where I want and do eat too much, but I am acutely aware of those ramifications and cannot lie to myself. I know that this chocolate chip cookie has far more calories than I want to think it does. I know having 3 will equate to an average meal. These voices and understandings in my head carry a great deal of weight as I continue to make changes and good decisions.

How are you doing with your goals? Have you been needing some extra motivation? Do you find the difference by just ‘showing up’?

If you know anybody who you think might benefit from reading my blog, please share it with them. I would love to reach more people because the success I am currently experiencing comes after years of struggle and frustration that I know many others face. If I can help myself through this, wonderful. If I can help others, even better! I am here to cheer on your effort and work, to whatever goal you are aspiring towards.

Please leave a like or a comment!

How did I do on last weeks action plan?:

  1. 5 Cardio workouts. 1 45 min ride, 1 HIIT Ride, 1 Low Impact ride, 2 runs. Partially attained . 4 rides and no run
  2. 2 Strength Sessions (Tues/Sat) Not attained
  3. Plan out my meals, stick to them, and portion snacks. Partially Attained.
  4. 2 additional outdoor activities. This can include walks with my daughter, disc golfing, skiing, etc. Attained
  5. 3 dedicated stretch sessions. 2 10-min lower body and 1 10 min full body (Mon/Wed/Fri). Not Attained
  6. 20-30 minute midday walk on work days. Attained
  7. Track every bite. Attained
  8. Drink 10 glasses of water per day. Attained
  9. Find some quiet time to calm my thoughts and mind. 2 5-10 minute sessions. Attained

Action Plan

  1. 5 Cardio workouts. 1 45 min ride, 1 HIIT Ride, 1 Low Impact ride, 1 misc ride, 1 run.
  2. 2 Strength Sessions (Tues/Sat)
  3. Plan out my meals, stick to them, and portion snacks
  4. 2 additional outdoor activities. This can include walks with my daughter, disc golfing, skiing, etc
  5. 3 dedicated stretch sessions. 2 10-min lower body and 1 10 min full body (Mon/Wed/Fri)
  6. 20-30 minute midday walk on work days
  7. Track every bite
  8. Drink 10 glasses of water per day
  9. Find some quiet time to calm my thoughts and mind. 2 5-10 minute sessions

Please stay tuned for more updates. If you have been enjoying this, please become an email follower or a wordpress follower. Having this public audience has been a positive motivation for me to continue working towards my goals and so I really am thankful for all of you!

DateChange in Weight
12/1*
12/2*-5.4 lbs
12/9-5.4 lbs
12/16-3.4 lbs
12/23+2.8 lbs
12/29-1.2 lbs
1/6-1.4 lbs
1/13-1.6 lbs
1/20-1.4 lbs
1/27+0.4 lbs
2/3-1.2 lbs
2/10-4.6 lbs
2/17+0.4 lbs
2/24-1.6 lbs
3/2-3.2 lbs
3/9+1.8 lbs
3/16-3.2 lbs
3/23-0.6 lbs
3/30+0.4 lbs
4/6-1.6 lbs
4/13+0.8 lbs
4/20-1.8 lbs
4/270 lbs
5/4+2.4 lbs
5/11-5.2 lbs
5/180 lbs
5/25-1.0 lbs
6/1-1.2 lbs
6/8-0.4 lbs
6/15-0.8 lbs
6/22+0.8 lbs
6/29-1.4 lbs
7/6-2.4 lbs

* I first weighed myself on a Sunday night and began the regular weigh-ins the following morning

-Ben

exercise and weekly reflections: 6/23 – 6/29

Change in weight (6/23/20 –6/29/20):  -1.4 LBS

If you haven’t yet, check out my instagram @a_better_ben. I’d love if you followed.

I worked my butt of this week, I had some back sliding, and then I worked even harder to overcome those back slides and I am super pumped to have gotten my weight back in the right direction. I feel that I really focussed this week on the reality of my intake and exercise, and didn’t make excuses for myself. I responded to and took responsibility for my decisions.

I am guilty. I moved our celebratory father’s day meal to Monday night so I could have it after my Monday weigh-in… So the week started with a bigger meal. My wife was awesome and surprised me with a Ninja Foodi as a gift. I have been getting sick of cooking lately and she was hoping this would make it easier on a nightly basis, but also inspire some other recipes that can be cooked in it. It worked. The problem is one of the first meals I made was a Mac and Cheese recipe with all the fat and all the calories. Let’s just say it was delicious and I was worthless for the rest of that night.

I continue to have around 5 great days and 2 bad days in the week. And it seems that those 2 bad days are enough to limit my success with my weight loss goals. I am still happy with 1.4 pounds lost, don’t get me wrong, but it could have been better. I had to work out a lot this week to earn that change because I am still struggling with those couple days of weakness.

So let’s talk about my exercise successes this week. I have slowed my runs to 1 per week. I don’t want to hurt myself, especially because I want to sign up for a couple of fall races. On Friday I did the next run on my app. I know I am slow and am not a natural runner, but I am proud of this. The last run intervals were a warmup, 5 min run, 2 min walk, 8 min run, 3 min walk, 5 min run, cool down. This one increased to warm up, 10 min run, 3 min walk, 10 min run, cool down. I design my runs to be around 3 miles. This usually means that when I am done with my app’s running segments, I have .75-1 mile left which I interval with some different speeds.

To be honest, the 10 min segments scared me. I am in my head about my ankle pain and just my general ability. So I am really proud of myself that I did it! And I am even more proud because I was not feeling it. I didn’t hurt, but my body was just tired, uncomfortable, and all around not wanting a run. You know how somedays you are just on it? Like, you feel like you woke up to kick ass? I love working out on those days. Friday was the exact opposite, and yet I still pushed through.

I also pushed myself on the bike this week. I did 2-45 min rides, 2-30 min, and a 20 min climb paired with a 15 min Low impact. This rewarded me with faster recoveries, and a lower heart rate during less intensive rides. I have been exercising in the past few weeks, but have not exercised to the point of making me proud of myself. This week, I was proud of myself. Not for the volume, per say, but I felt like I was treating myself right. On top of this I continue to feel stronger and my thighs… damn.

There were definitely some days where I did not get my walks in. It was ridiculously hot and humid, so that made getting outside for them a tougher. This week should be a bit more reasonable for temps, so hopefully I can get out and stop making excuses.

On a different note, I am currently reading two very different books, but both are perfect for my betterment journey. First I am reading Grit but Angela Duckworth. My sister sent me this one and I am slowly getting through it (Toddlers don’t want me to read). But it is perfect reading for me when I think and talk about consistency and perseverance. I am also reading Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. This I just started the other day, but was recommended to me as I am trying to better understand how I can be an ally to POC and become more anti-racist. So far, seeing through the eyes of the author has been enlightening, humbling, and saddening. I can say the life I have grown into is remarkably different, for few reasons of my own. I hope to speak on both of them more in the future when I have gotten farther along.

Did you have any victories this week? Please tell me! Also, is there a good book that is speaking to you right now?

If you know anybody who you think might benefit from reading my blog, please share it with them. I would love to reach more people because the success I am currently experiencing comes after years of struggle and frustration that I know many others face. If I can help myself through this, wonderful. If I can help others, even better! I am here to cheer on your effort and work, to whatever goal you are aspiring towards.

Please leave a like or a comment!

How did I do on last weeks action plan?:

  1. 5 Cardio workouts. 1 45 min ride, 1 HIIT Ride, 1 Low Impact ride, 2 runs. Exceeded. 6 rides and 1 run
  2. 2 Strength Sessions (Tues/Sat) Partially Attained. 1 Session
  3. Plan out my meals, stick to them, and portion snacks. Partially Attained.
  4. 2 additional outdoor activities. This can include walks with my daughter, disc golfing, skiing, etc. Attained
  5. 3 dedicated stretch sessions. 2 10-min lower body and 1 10 min full body (Mon/Wed/Fri). Not Attained
  6. 20-30 minute midday walk on work days. Not Attained
  7. Track every bite. Attained
  8. Drink 10 glasses of water per day. Attained
  9. Find some quiet time to calm my thoughts and mind. 2 5-10 minute sessions. Attained

Action Plan

  1. 5 Cardio workouts. 1 45 min ride, 1 HIIT Ride, 1 Low Impact ride, 1 misc ride, 1 run.
  2. 2 Strength Sessions (Tues/Sat)
  3. Plan out my meals, stick to them, and portion snacks
  4. 2 additional outdoor activities. This can include walks with my daughter, disc golfing, skiing, etc
  5. 3 dedicated stretch sessions. 2 10-min lower body and 1 10 min full body (Mon/Wed/Fri)
  6. 20-30 minute midday walk on work days
  7. Track every bite
  8. Drink 10 glasses of water per day
  9. Find some quiet time to calm my thoughts and mind. 2 5-10 minute sessions

Please stay tuned for more updates. If you have been enjoying this, please become an email follower or a wordpress follower. Having this public audience has been a positive motivation for me to continue working towards my goals and so I really am thankful for all of you!

DateChange in Weight
12/1*
12/2*-5.4 lbs
12/9-5.4 lbs
12/16-3.4 lbs
12/23+2.8 lbs
12/29-1.2 lbs
1/6-1.4 lbs
1/13-1.6 lbs
1/20-1.4 lbs
1/27+0.4 lbs
2/3-1.2 lbs
2/10-4.6 lbs
2/17+0.4 lbs
2/24-1.6 lbs
3/2-3.2 lbs
3/9+1.8 lbs
3/16-3.2 lbs
3/23-0.6 lbs
3/30+0.4 lbs
4/6-1.6 lbs
4/13+0.8 lbs
4/20-1.8 lbs
4/270 lbs
5/4+2.4 lbs
5/11-5.2 lbs
5/180 lbs
5/25-1.0 lbs
6/1-1.2 lbs
6/8-0.4 lbs
6/15-0.8 lbs
6/22+0.8 lbs
6/29-1.4 lbs

* I first weighed myself on a Sunday night and began the regular weigh-ins the following morning

-Ben

the no glamour key to improving health

…walking…

I have noticed that there is a consistent theme to my weeks. Those where I walk a lot are better than those where I don’t. This goes beyond my weight loss goals and also includes my mental health. Walking has many benefits but is often overlooked for the more ‘glamorous’ exercises. Nobody brags to their friends about this killer walk they did that day. No. We like to talk about our squat PR, our run split, or our workout on our trendy bike subscription (shots fired… at myself). I also never hear people say how at peace they feel from a walk. It is always a hike, meditation, or yoga. I feel people think of walking as the stereotype of our grandparents power-walking down the retirement neighborhood in their track jackets and wearing those sweet wrap around sunglasses (you get the picture). Well I am here to say walking is awesome… maybe someday I will also have a sweet track jacket and wrap around sunglasses.

Why is walking awesome? Let’s start with reputable sources as opposed to my anecdotal blabbing. The Mayo clinic talks about walking as an effective way to manage weight, improve mood, and combat common health conditions. Harvard Health also says it can improve immune function and tame your sweat tooth, among others. It just takes a quick google source to find all the information from people far smarter than me. So it seems the experts are aligned on it, and I agree with the experts. I am sure they have been waiting for my approval.

I often fall into this trap of thinking that the general movement has less impact than if I get a good workout in. I may think its okay if I don’t walk at all, as long as I get a ride in. I may be okay with this, but I am missing out on real opportunity. The biggest thing about walking is it is low impact. I don’t feel like I have truly strained myself and I am not sore after a walk. And the kicker is, if you make the walk active, faster than a stroll, it can give you real tangible benefits.

Let’s compare my most recent run and walk, as recorded on my apple watch. Before you judge, this is me. I am a slow runner who has been doing interval training to get myself to be able to run a 5k straight. Others do it faster and can have more calorie burn, but this is me and my journey.

The left image shows my evening walk last night and the right is my run this morning. The benefit of the walking route I take is that it starts off with an uphill, so if I initially start walking at a good pace then my heart rate can stay a bit more elevated throughout the duration of the walk.

I clearly burned more calories on my run, but I did not burn a crazy amount more. The walk, because I made it active and more than a stroll, had an awesome end result. There are clear and documented benefits to higher heart rates that higher intensity workouts can give you, but a walk with a lower heart rate, but still elevated, can still be a key. The biggest difference is how I felt. During my run this morning, I felt like crap. My whole body was achy and was just not feeling it. I also, because of my size, have had to scale back to 1-2 runs per week or else the impact starts taking a negative toll. I still do it because I like it, I have goals, and the feeling of accomplishment after you finish is amazing.

But walking. After that walk the most discomfort I had was sweat. No aches and pains. No angry hip or knees. Walking is a sneaky, silent health booster. I felt great. I took an evening walk, got to see the evening light, and it helped me decompress after my day. Think of the cumulative impact of a 20-30 min walk every day, that goes along with your more intense exercise routines! If I do it with enough movement, I can add 300+ calories burned to my day, every day, and not feel like I worked out. This translates to better attitude and crushing health goals.

This becomes all the more important having a sedentary job. The weeks where I get a morning walk in and an afternoon/evening workout are the ones where I achieve the most success and feel the best.

Do you have a sneaky activity that gives you these benefits? How do you fit subtle movement into your day?