We Can Work It Out
All apologies now for a long post. If you stick it out til the end, you’re a true champ.
I quit coffee a week ago, and did suffer some low grade headaches and energy lulls, but now I’m fine. My daily energy has evened out all day, and my stomach isn’t feeling acidic either. All good.
Full disclosure: I can’t remember the last time I had a pop/soda either, I don’t drink juice (especially not bottled and processed stuff), and I’ve given up green tea (caffeine there too). Just water for me, and it’s fine.
So. This post stems from a conversation that was part of Mike’s recent live stream about new releases. I went on a wee tangent about exercise.
I’m a pretty active guy, always have been (I like to think). As a kid, I played a ton of hockey, and did a lot of outdoor stuff as my hometown was so small. We rode our bikes everywhere. In high school, I switched to basketball, but played pretty much every day, even just in the driveway. At university and college, I still went to the gym somewhat, and rode a bike everywhere, and walked a ton. I had a weight bench for a while.
I was the skinny kid, but eventually grew to be 6’2” (188cm) while remaining rail thin. We walked everywhere. In our 30s, we got a car and started driving everywhere. Then we had babies and, with full-time jobs, and while we still walked most days, other priorities took over. Of course, around this time your body starts to slow down too (metabolism, etc). Now that the kids are older and I’m in my mid-40s, we do more active things again, but after a lifetime of bad eating haits (since there were no repercussions in my youth), naturally I put on weight.
I’ve made stabs, over these years, to regain some of my old form (though I wouldn’t want to be quite so skinny as I was at, say, 18). But I figure I could lose some pounds, especially off the middle (and there’s a relatable sentence for most, I’m sure).
For those interested, here’s my daily (morning) workout. For equipment, all I have here is walking poles, an exercise bike, dumbbells, a bar with plate weights, and a flat bench. Nothing fancy. So, starting at 04:00:
3km fasted brisk walk (with nordic walking poles) every day, no matter the weather
30 min exercise bike (with 10lb dumbbell shoulder raises, bicep curls, tricep work while I pedal)
Weights (bar 12lbs, wts 2×10 = 32lbs) in 3 sets of 10 (or 25 for bench press) each: deadlift (30), bent row (30), shoulder press (30), squat (30), calf raises (30), bicep curls (30), bench press (75)
200 incline (staircase) pushups (4 sets of 50) with pushup handles to appease my pre-arthritic wrists
200 crunch situps
I just stay at it, with rest breaks between, and it’s done no problem. You’ll notice none of this is heavy weight. Not even close. I don’t want to be bulky muscle guy. This is just maintenance work, and an effort to shed some weight.
I started out with just the walk. I love the wee hours of early morning, there’s nothing moving out there at 04:00 except me and the skunks and raccoons, maybe the occasional cat or rabbit here and there. A few times I’ve heard coyotes howling in the distance, but I’ve never seen one. I suppose there’s a small risk of bears, if one got confused and wandered into town (it happens often enough). I maybe see one car go by during the whole 3km walk. I don’t mind being up early, so long as I’m not too late to bed. I get about 6 hours sleep each night and I’m good.
You might think I’m crazy, up so early, and outside moving. But I choose it, because it’s the only time I can get time to myself all day. My lovely wife is up early (she leaves for work before 07:00), so I need to be back before she goes, and the kids aren’t long in waking after she leaves. They take over the whole day and don’t pass out until about 21:00 these days. I’m in bed by 22:00 or so, so the early morning is about the only space I get to quietly think my own thoughts. Of course I don’t say this begrudgingly. I love my family and want to be with them, I just also respect my need for my own mental space, so 04:00 affords me that.
I tried running for a while. After a month or so, I realized it’s not really me. All deference to those who love it. I’ll stick to the walks.
Anyway, the pushup handles came first, the weights were added later, and then the bike came last. Overall, I think it’s a decent way to spend time in the morning, and I feel great.
The other side of the coin is diet, hand in hand with the workouts. I generally avoid fast food for the nasty that it is, even avoiding the ubiquitous Tim’s donut shop, a quintessential Canadian place to go – except during a roadtrip (for the washroom break too), but of course this year we haven’t gone anywhere.
You already know I just drink water, these days, nothing else. I walk fasted, then I have an apple afterwards. Then a banana after the bike, but otherwise nothing until lunch, which is usually not much either. Maybe some carrots, low-salt swiss cheese, a few unsalted wee rice crackers. My one main meal is dinner, and even then I try to be mindful, keep the carbs quite low and the meat unprocessed. Some nights, I have two Oreos for dessert, because my son loves them and so we share them. Otherwise, it’s all just normal healthy stuff. I try not to eat after dinner either, so my caloric intake isn’t likely all that high.
I read somewhere that 1lb of body fat is equal to about 3500 calories. So by this metric, to shed one pound of weight, you’d reduce daily caloric intake by 500 daily (500×7=3500) for the week. I feel like I’m below whatever caloric number would recommended for me at my age, anyway. So, add in the exercise, and it’s a good bet pounds will drop off eventually. Let’s go!
I’ve read about intermittent fasting, but I need to do a lot more research about it before trying anything, and right now I kind of feel like I’m on a fairly decent path anyway. We’ll see.
The big things I’ve learned (from experience):
Daily maintenance (for a lifetime) is key. Drop the weight and then keep it off. You don’t drop the weight and then stop exercising, and you can’t really go back to “just this once” allowing yourself extra treats – that’s a quick, slippery slope. Sustainable weight loss and maintenance is a long, permanent game. Anyone who says they know rapid methods is probably selling something.
We think we need to eat more than we do.
Never let more than two days pass without exercise. One day off between is fine, but never two. The longer you go between workouts, the harder it is to go back.
Try not to call it “losing weight.” Saying you “lost weight” sounds to me like it’s simply lost and therefore can be found again. No, the idea here is get rid of it and keep it gone. I try to say eliminate, shed, drop, etc.
That’s just me. You mileage may vary, and I’m not saying you have to do anything. But for anyone who’s ever thought about feeling better, sleeping better, having consistent energy and just generally conquering your day instead of letting it conquer you, maybe some of what I wrote (above) can help inspire. Keep it simple, start small, and let the gains you see inspire you to keep going, maybe even do a bit more. Remember, it’s a long game, and all you’ve got is time. It’s up to you how you spend it.