Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Time and Effort: Making Space

Or, “Setting Yourself Up For Success”

This is the second in my series about my ongoing journey to a healthier me. Part One can be found here.

Where and When

The first step on the road to health and physical fitness is, of course, making the conscious and purposeful choice to do the work to get there. No amount of tolls, tips, and tricks can get you to a place you won’t work to get to. Be very clear what you are trying to accomplish and what you are willing to do to make it happen.

Once you decide to take this journey, the next step is to make it as easy as possible. And that starts with making space for it.

By making space, I am talking specifically about two things:

  • A physical place

  • Allotted time on your calendar

First, you will need a literal, physical place where you can workout, stretch, lift weights, or just dance about. This will look different for each person. It might mean paying for a gym membership, clearing out space in a garage, or rearranging furniture in a living room or family room. It might be a neighborhood route where you feel safe going for a walk, run, or bike ride. Whatever works for you may not work for others, and that’s okay. This is all about you and your place.

Second, you need to make your health and wellness efforts a priority. That means carving out time in what is likely an already full schedule. This may require flexibility and creative thinking and it’s not optional. If you don’t make the time, you won’t make the changes. It won’t be easy, but I’ll share some ideas that have worked for me. Hopefully, you can incorporate some of those into your own calendar.

Goodbye Cabana, Hello Fitness Center

For me, the perfect place started as an afterthought. We impulsively bought a Peloton Bike but hadn’t really thought through where we were going to put it. We tried to picture it in the dining room or the corner of our living room and even along a bedroom wall, but none of those options offered the room or the privacy I knew I would need. I also am an early-riser, and there’s no way to quietly workout on a stationary bike while in the same room with someone else sleeping.

And then I had a thought. We had really quit using our once-popular backyard cabana. One reason was COVID and a lack of visitors during the pandemic. More so, it’s because we built an outdoor lounge on the side of our house which is much nicer and has more room for guests. So the cabana became our “why not here?” choice for the exercise bike.

That was just the beginning, though. Once the bike was set up, we started to envision the whole space in a completely different way. Instead of a guest space with a bike, we saw it as a complete fitness center. Several Amazon purchases and a treadmill later, and our plans became a reality.

This is the cabana in our backyard.

This is it what it looked like before.

And this is the space now, fully converted to a fitness center.

In addition to the cabana, I also have an open floor space in my home office where I can stretch, do some strength training, and work out with some online fitness programs. I also have one-mile, three-mile, and 5k distances mapped out in my neighborhood that offer a safe place to get outside year round. I have plenty of places to be active, and I know that makes me fortunate. You don’t have to have all the options I do to be successful, though. You just need one space to start.

Calendar What You Can and Flex The Rest

Now that you have a place, you need to make time to be in it. I am fortunate in that I work from home, have no commute, and don’t have kids or pets or any other demands on my time. I can work out before work, at lunch, and anytime after work. But having so many options can be its own challenge in that I will sometimes think, “oh, I’ll make time later” and then it doesn’t happen.

The most helpful tip I can offer is that three 10-minute workouts offer the same benefits as a single 30-minute workout. If you can’t find a half-hour to work out, then find smaller blocks of time throughout your day and lift dumbbells, do the Marine Corps Daily 7, or stretch your body. What you do - at least in the early days - is less important than the fact that you are doing anything at all.

For me, I have a few physical habits I am working to develop:

  1. 30-45 minutes of activity at least five days each week

  2. Dumbbells, 5x per day every workday

  3. Stretching 2-3 times per week

The longer sessions are either before or after work. I prefer to do those early so I can feel good all day about having them done, but sometimes my pre-work mornings get away from me. If so, that’s okay. I get off work at 4:30pm and have plenty of time afterwards to get a longer workout in. All that matters at the end of the day is that I met my goals.

The Takeaway

If you are serious about wanting to make changes in your life and work on building a healthier, stronger you, it can happen. But you’ll need to make a commitment to yourself and honor that by doing what needs to be done. And that starts with making it as easy as possible to get your workouts in. Create a space and dedicate the time. You’ll be happy you did.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Time and Effort: The Reality of Weight Loss

 Or, “Small Steps Can Become Big Accomplishments”

This is the first post in what I intend to be a seven-part series. I’m sharing these in the hopes that others might see themselves in my journey and have the confidence to embark on one of their own.

Obvious yet necessary disclaimers:

  1. This is my story and what is working for me. Your experience will be uniquely yours.
  2. I am aware of my privilege. I have enough time, money, and help from my husband to devote to this. I understand that is not the situation for everyone.
  3. I will continue to try to improve, which means I will make mistakes, I will fail, and I will adapt. If you’re looking for perfection, it’s not here.
  4. I will be honest and share the good and the bad. I have zero interest in feeling guilt or shame for being human.
  5. And finally, I am not a doctor and none of what follows is medical advice. Please be mindful of your own body, know your limits, and be realistic about the changes you make and the impact they can have.

Who Is This Guy?

I’m a certified life coach. My story was featured in the documentary, “From Fat To Finish Line.” I was even spotlighted in an issue of “Runners World.” And none of that matters here. Because this isn’t a series telling other people what they need to do. It’s just me sharing my own journey, what is working and what isn’t, and how I plan to continue losing the weight and keep it off. So what qualifies me to write and share all of this? The fact that it’s my story and no one else knows it like I do.
And since I’m talking about my own experiences, here’s a visual I’m particularly proud of.

March 2022 vs April 2019
A Little Background

Skinny kid. Gained a little weight while in the Marine Corps. Gained a lot after. Made multiple efforts to lose the weight, some of which were even successful, albeit temporarily. Lost more weight in 2010 and started running. A lot. Seven full marathons, 30+ half marathons, and 20+ long distance team relays. Appeared in a documentary with eleven other success stories running from Miami to Key West, Florida. Stopped running in the Fall of 2017. By August 2021, I was well over 220 pounds and feeling horrible. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, I was in a really dark place and feeling at my lowest.

Deep Down, I’m Very Shallow

What started my current journey? I’d like to say something profound, but no. It’s pretty vain, actually. I am planning a trip to Italy in September, and as I was looking ahead to it, I realized I didn’t want to be fat in all of the photos and videos we will take while there. More importantly, I didn’t want to be distracted by my insecurities when I should be enjoying the vacation experience of a lifetime. I didn’t know what I was going to do, exactly, but I knew I had a year to do something. And targeted marketing did the trick, because I got an email from Apple at the same moment I was contemplating how to start. (Is my iPhone reading my mind?) 
Throwing Money at the Problem
In August 2021, I bought an Apple Watch. It was my incentive to start making positive changes. It also came with a subscription to Apple Fitness+, and that gave me easy access to cardio and strength training videos. My commitment wasn’t really there, yet, but I was still more active than I had been in years, so it was a win. 
Fast forward to a month later, and a random interaction on Facebook, a Q&A with a friend, and my husband’s encouragement resulted in me buying a Peloton Bike. I’m a gadget and toy kind of guy, so I knew that these two purchases would help get me motivated. And with that, I was on my way.

Up Next: Making Space

(I’ll come back and link part two after it’s written and posted.)