I achieved a fitness goal without Facebook
Today is March 29. Judgment day.
Rewind to November, me and some fellows in the perpetually-chubby club decided to have a contest: Whoever can lose the most weight from Dec 1 to April 1 (was since revised) wins money. $50 /person with 5 people provides a meager $200 incentive provided the participant is willing to endure the temptation of, well, avoiding temptation. Today, I’m writing to share (brag) about winning.
I started on Dec 1 at 229 lovingly pounds and am typing, with great agility and alacrity might I add, at 182.6 lbs, close to 50lbs in 4 months.
I can’t help but notice all the fitness check-ins, the posts about leg day, or the easily forgotten motivational tropes. Listen, dude, no one cares that you lift your legs. In fact, no one will probably read this blog, so it’s probably just a cathartic, albeit narcissistic, process. At least I recognize the “look at me” approach that is the fitness subculture. Anyway, for those looking for tips in how I succeeded, here goes.
Prior to the competition, I had dabbled in downloading a calorie counting app. A friend had one, and he seemed successful in dropping real pounds. I always have been someone to work out. And before I tell you about how this app applies to my success, I must provide a little background.
I love beer, pizza, chips, soda, liquor, bacon, beef, chicken, and basically every iteration of the potato. Food I dislike to the point of gagging (trust me, I’ve tried): just about everything healthy. I don’t like lettuce, cabbage, carrots, etc. I think you see the disparity here. Anyway, it’s difficult for my palette and metabolism to work together in a way that allows for me to be smaller. Insert the calorie counter.
The Lose It app, if used correctly, makes you track every piece of food that enters your mouth. You quickly learn that one cookie (in all of its ooey, gooey deliciousness) will not be worth the emaciated feeling you’ll leave yourself with versus eating less calorie dense foods. Also, it gives you a daily allotment alongside a fitness goal. Say I start at 229 and want to lose 2lbs a week, the max the app allows, it will give you the number of calories you can. After each weigh in, and I weighed in about twice a week, the app would adjust since your resting metabolic rate….blah blah blah….you’re not as fat so you don’t need as much food aka energy. The module is simple.
I opted for the 2 lbs/week option. I set my goal for 192. I had not been under the Mendoza line since I played football for the St. Mary Knights, a lofty goal. With full confidence, I will say the first week and, by extension, month, is the hardest. My stomach was huge, but I was throwing pebbles in it. December sucked, and I was completely sober the whole month. The first beer I drank was on New Year’s Eve.
By January, I had been in a rhythm. They say it takes about 20 some days to get oneself into a habit. It takes longer, but a month or so should get the ball rolling. For early dieters, my advice is to go on a strict, dedicated diet for at least 30 days. Afterwards, you can loosen it up a little bit. February came and the weather sucked. While I maintained, I did take a week off. I ate and caved on a few things: sweets, starchy carbs. But by February, I believe my metabolism was working far more efficiently than it ever had. I got back into it with little damage and got prepared for the final push. March simply came and went, I was in a lifestyle by this time. The following is a list of crap that I ate in any combination, all under the calorie limit, though I did go over some days (weekends).
- Low Fat Yogurt
- Whole whole bread
- Low carb pasta
- Greek yogurt
- Chicken (tons and tons of chicken)
- Marinara sauce
- Tomato sauce
- BBQ sauce
- Low fat mayonnaise
- Whole wheat tortillas
- Flour tortillas
- Cottage cheese
- Beef Jerky
- Fiber One 80 cal/serving cereal
- Skim milk
- Egg whites (the ones that come pre-separated)
- V8 Fusion
- Miller Lite
- Olive Oil
- Peanut Butter
- Rice and Sides
- Ground Turkey
I made almost every meal at home. When I did eat out, I would substitute beef for chicken and try to avoid fries. I did cheat from time to time, so don’t think this diet was held to with Amish-like adherence.
Full candor: playing football most of my life was great for working out. I don’t hate going to the gym. I just hate running and still do (being fat/chubby is a frame of mind, which will never, ever leave me). Those looking to get a trainer or join CrossFit, which I keep hearing about, go for it. I had enough background to get away sans trainer/training program. My approach was much easier.
Sidenote: we live in the Internet age. The Internet is an easily accessible network containing innumerable amounts of information on anything. Use it! Research diet and exercise. You do not need anything more than a treadmill and floor space.
I ran. A lot. I did intervals to start, running usually about 40 minutes with 4 minutes at a quick jog and 2 minutes at a brisk walk to recover. Once that got easier, I increased the pace. Once that got too easy (and you know it’s easy when you’re not breathing like a Jabba the Hut after walking a flight of stairs), I added elliptical and stairmaster jaunts. I’d run for 30 minutes, hop on the elliptical for 20, and finish on the stairs for 10. I’d vary those three based on how my legs felt that day, and how motivated I was.
At certain portions, I’d add in weight lifting. I’d work mostly on the floor doing core exercises and push-ups. It’s enough to maintain muscle without overworking the body.
By the last month, I was in good enough shape to run about 4 -5 miles per day in a single session minus the intervals. Each week I’d dedicate a day to trying to achieve a mini goal. For example, two weeks ago I’d decided I’d run 60 minutes straight and see how far I’d get. I ended at 7.5 miles, a personal achievement.
Honestly, if you distill all of my workout regimen, it’s just to make sure you push yourself each week. If any single work out is getting too easy, increase the difficulty. Set mini goals, set time goals, set pace goals (quicker pace also burns more calories and hence I’m allowed to eat more food!)
The main idea
I didn’t share this over Facebook every day. I realize people don’t care all that much outside of their close circles. And by February, when someone’s eating pizza in front if you, $200 means nothing. The simple truth is that you, singular, have to be motivated. You have to want to get into better shape. If you’re cheating and then complaining about results, you’re lying. Find a reason and make progress. Those reasons can be any, but it comes down to you alone. I’ll always be a fat kid at heart, and I’m going to push my work outs further, but it’s been a great payoff.