August 03, 2015
Last Monday marked thirty days until my vacation to Disney World, and being one who loves fixed time blocks for achieving goals, I decided to put out a goal for myself – spend the next 30 days doing my best to change my habits regarding eating and working out. Aside from the obvious prizes of better health, if I can lose a whole shirt size, I’ve decided to reward myself by going a little nuts on Disney apparel, mostly shirts. That would have the extended goal of keeping in them, and the cycle continued.
I’m a week in. For the most part, I’ve held up the first 7 days. Since I had to qualify that, I guess I should lay out my parameters.
The game started simple: 30 minutes on the treadmill every single day between now and Disney World. While I don’t have to be running, it has to be enough for my Apple Watch to register as a workout, which is defined as a “brisk walk,” or about 3mph, give or take. Enough to fall somewhere between countering acting my relatively sedentary, desk-dwelling lifestyle and pushing my metabolism.
Of course not. The treadmill is boring. Despite being centered in front of my large TV in the basement and surrounded by speakers, it’s boring as shit. I find myself staring at the little timer, and it just stares back, mocking me. Like, if I stopped looking at it, it’d stop ticking to spite me. An easily solved problem – I cover the clock, blast a podcast or some music, and try to get lost. It’s getting easier, but slowly.
I also planned on the generic goal of “eat less shit” during this time, which initially amounted to dropping fries and bad for you sides, but changing relatively little. That went by the wayside fast in favor of calorie counting and actively logging my food. I mean, if I’m going to do it, I may as well do it right.
Again, of course not. I mean, logging is easy. Choosing what to put in is not. Daily lunch wasn’t that bad, really – generally, a protein (turkey or pastrami), some mustard, and a side of some sort, usually apples or veggie chips and spicy avocado hummus. The real test was Saturday when I ventured out for lunch with a friend. We went to McAlister’s, which has some decently healthy options amongst a sea of high calorie foods. It took me ten minutes to order, weighing the options, internally discussing what a bigger lunch would mean for the rest of the day, debating how much extra treadmill time I’d have to spend if I had chips instead of fruit, etc. It was terrible – a pretty big sway from my old habits of eating out and not paying attention too closely to what goes in.
So the game was set: a brisk walk, daily, and better food choices. Did I make it? Sort of.
I didn’t walk daily. I did Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday, I found that two days on had made it so I was registering the same amount of “workout” on the Apple Watch, so I had to up my game, adding in an incline in place of increased pace. I also found that I’m in between sizes on the watchband, and having it reliably measure my heartrate was tricky – probably my only complain about the Apple Watch so far. Thursday and Friday were skipped – Thursday because I worked longer and ate at my parents’ house late, and Friday because I had a houseguest over the weekend. Bad excuses, both, given that I can find 30 minutes out of 1,440 to walk. Saturday and Sunday, though, I tried to redeem myself, clocking 40 active minutes of brisk incline and an untracked 5 minutes of cool down. The inclines got higher during each, keeping me in a pretty high heart rate. It’s not as good as having met the 7/7 goal, but I wouldn’t call it a failure.
Foodwise, I was under my caloric goal every day this week. I’ve also had a few revelations around caloric equivalencies, seeing how much more of good food I can have versus some of the crap I’d eaten prior. It’s not groundbreaking knowledge, but being forced to look at it made me think about it. I even spent some time here and there looking back on what I’d done in the past, and wishing I had made better decisions. But that’s in the past, and change is here. Unintentional side effect: I’ve saved a bunch of money by not eating out, and food lasts longer when you meter how much of it goes on the plate. Also, all my dishes are dirty.
Week one tally: 5/7 walking, 7/7 caloric goal met, down 4ish pounds (rounded slightly up for good behavior and bad starting measurement). My shirts and pants feel just a little bit looser – probably psychosomatic, but I’ll take the positive reinforcement because it sets me up well for week two. I’m also paying much more attention to both the taste of things (since I damn well better enjoy it if it’s costing me calories), and knowing when I’m actually hungry. I also finish most days with something my parents used to say – “the kitchen is now closed.”
Week two goals: More of the good, less of the bad. Try to keep the 40 minutes treadmill time instead of 30, and alternate trading pace for incline. I’m not looking to run a marathon, but maybe a 5k with a decent time. If eating out presents itself as an option this week, don’t go insane trying to pick something off the menu. In general, I want to think less about this, and have it just be normal. I realize that won’t be easy since this is a change to how I’ve spent most of the last 30 years, but it needs to become second nature if it’s going to stick, and overthinking things makes it a bigger deal than it needs to be.
A final thought – 80g of Goldfish are a lot when you eat them one by one. But every little graham cracker one of them was more delicious than the last.