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Originally published at Rodney's Blog. Please leave any comments there.

First, I apologise that the updates were not regular after Day 96. As it turns out, life was pretty busy and crazy experience. There was lots of travel, many things that I was involved in, and all around hectic on the job front and the home front. So as I result, whilst I have a really good record of my food intake and exercise since I was tracking that daily, I didn’t blog or record my feelings daily. So basically we are going to jump 70 days (10 weeks) forward to the results.

But before I do that, I wanted to recall what I set for myself as a goal in my initial plan back in January when I started this fitness journey.

“In terms of time frame, I am looking to 24-28 kg in 6 months. That is roughly 1 kg a week, which is very challenging. Whilst I would be thrilled with 22 kg, I also want to push myself to go a bit beyond. I am under no illusion how difficult this will be.”

So…drumroll please…

24 Week Results
This is result of My Fitness Journey after 24 weeks

Technically, I failed. I missed by goal by 1 kg, which was about what I had begun predicting. I don’t blame anyone else but myself for it. I can replay in my mind the times I indulged too much which would have delivered that extra 1000 grams of weight loss I needed to achieve the 24kg minimum goal. I know that there were instances where I thought that “I can just simply lose a bit more than planned whenever I want.” As it turns out, the body also wants to have a say in matters past a certain point. And I should have planned and eaten better towards the end. I did keep my promise to myself…as a result of missing my target, I didn’t take that reward trip I planned.

Even in the light of failure, 23 kg is still something to be proud of. That is still 0.95 8kg a week over the course of 24 weeks. I still learned a lot about nutrition, diet, exercise, will power and commitment. I learned a new appreciation for food. Half of the clothes I had safely locked away in the “one day I will wear that again” section of my closet I am now wearing. Maybe if I had made my weight loss goal public instead of private (I hid all of these weight loss posts until after the my personal challenge was over), it might have motivated me more. I will never know. I will just enjoy the results I have now.

Before I go on, I should also give some shout outs:

  • South Beach Diet – Phase 1: I don’t think it was necessary to achieve the weight loss results. Rather, it’s real value was in getting me to think about the food I was eating for 2 weeks.
  • MyFitnessPal: What a great food tracking app. Most of the battle really was about Calories In vs Calories Out. And it allowed me to think about micro and macro nutrients, which also helped in food selection.
  • Fitbit: My Fitbit Charge HR and Aria scale helped to automate and remove a lot of the guesswork from tracking several health metrics.
  • Tess Modig: She’s a training instructor (Spinning and Body Pump) at my gym. Her positive energy and good vibes make going to the gym fun on her class days.
  • Mr Stingy: He wrote an article about a friend who lost 26 kg in 6 months. I didn’t follow all of the advice in the article (for example, I didn’t embrace Strong Lifts or Intermittent Fasting, and I approached the macros differently than his friend did), but the article was inspirational. It showed how change was possible.

So what’s next?

Strangely enough, I am going to spend the summer stabilising, meaning that I want to maintain a loss of 23-25 kg. I think almost 1 kg a week is a lot to ask of your body for a sustained period. I don’t have any science to back that up, but for my money’s worth, I think some time being mindful of weight loss, but not maniacally focused on it, is a good thing. I have always considered this part of my fitness journey to be Phase 1. I need to think about Phase 2. I know that it will involve another 15-20 kg, but I don’t feel the same pressure to lose it that quickly. Losing that amount of weight over the next year would be something I would be fine with. I don’t want to let it go that long, but I have to have a think about what makes sense. And also, it’s my feeling that the way I lost the first 23 kg cannot be the way I lose the next 20 kg. My body is different than when I first started, and I need to change the nutrition and exercise regime from this new starting point.

Anyway, for those of you who have read along, thanks for reading! I hope you take some inspiration from what I have written. And hope you come along for the next phase of my fitness journey when it starts!

Originally published at Rodney's Blog. Please leave any comments there.

So after 96 days, I am finally consistently about 9-10kg away from my goal! That makes me very happy. If you had told me on New Years Day that I was within striking distance of meeting my target, I wouldn’t have believed it. Even a few entries ago, I was talking about how I might just miss my goal by a week or so, but at least for the moment, it seems like I can make it.

In terms of feelings, I have to say that overall I feel very good. There have only been a few times that I have felt really hungry, and a few times that I have felt dizzy, but when that has happened, I have eaten and felt better. I have eaten even if it meant that I had to eat more than my calorie budget allows because although I really respect the numbers and the data, I have to respect my body and the signals it is sending me even more.

So we’ll see how it continues. I just know that I have 9 weeks to lose 10kg in order to achieve my goal. And on some level I am plateauing at the moment (the last week I have been anywhere from 9,3kg to 9,8kg away from my goal). I am sure that I can power through it if I just keep at it. But it would also be nice to even meet my goal a bit ahead of schedule. But because 1.1kg of weight loss a week is pretty aggressive, I won’t rush it.

Wish me luck!

Originally published at Rodney's Blog. Please leave any comments there.

So today is important for 2 reasons:

  • It’s been 90 days since I started this journey
  • I ran a different set of numbers to see what additional benefits I was achieving with this fitness initiative

I stepped on the scale this morning, and it showed that I lost 18kg so far. That’s an average of 6kg a month over the last 3 months! It feels really good to have achieved that. Sometimes I look at the scale and my two tracking apps (Fitbit and MyFitnessPal), and I feel like they are lying to me. In truth, not many people notice that I have lost 18kg. I guess by many measurements, I am still far away from a healthy weight. But I notice the change in small, but nice ways.

Like for example, this morning I had to wash my favourite pair of black jeans (and in fact all but one pair of jeans). So in a bit of a desperation, I took the last pair of jeans that I saw in the closet and just put them on and went downstairs to the laundry. As I was doing that, I realised that the jeans I was wearing were the black pair of jeans I had put away in the closet back in July 2015 once I had outgrown them. So it was a really nice treat this morning. Once I reach my Phase 1 goal, I think that there are some of the things which I have put away in the back of the closet that I will be able to wear again 🙂

The other things I decided to do this morning was to go to my credit card’s website and download some data. I was interested to test a theory of mine that not only had I been eating better, but I had been doing it for less money than I would have before this fitness journey. So I decided to take two typical travel months, November 2015 and February 2016, and do a comparison on my spending on food at home in Stockholm (I excluded food purchased during business travel and vacation trips).

What I found out is that when I compare November 2015 to February 2016, I spent about twice the amount of money ($700) in November compared to February ($350). So at least the initial analysis confirms that I am literally paying myself to lose weight! It comes about because as a single guy, I make meals typically with 3-4 servings. So there is always something for lunch or dinner the next day. And I tend to prepare food 3 or 4 nights a week and then just rotate those amongst the days. So essentially the cost of one night out is being spread out over 2-3 days.

Anyway, I thought that I’d create a sidebar conversation about some of the other aspects of my fitness journey, since it is more than about weight loss. Until next time!

Originally published at Rodney's Blog. Please leave any comments there.

So what a difference 11 days can make!

When I last wrote, I was in the midst of a plateau. It was angering, depressing, and motivating all at the same time!

It was depressing because even though I was doing the same things, I wasn’t seeing any weekly improvement. It was depressing because mathematically it meant that was goal seemed to be out of reach and I was resigning myself to the fact that I would miss my goal by 3-4 kilos. It was motivating because I thought it didn’t have to be that way if I didn’t want to it be. So 11 days later, the good news is that the scale has started to move definitively down again. I am 1kg lighter than when I last wrote. It sounds like it is a small thing, but it is a big achievement to me. And I owe it to a couple of things:

  • Increasing the intensity of my exercise
  • I started adding morning and evening routines to my exercise schedule
  • I re-grounded myself in the “Psycho” mentality (it’s really CICO, but it feels more fun to say psycho)

CICO basically means that when it comes to weight loss, it’s no more complicated than Calories In / Calories Out. At the end of every day, I need to be at a caloric deficit in order to lose weight. And on the days when I know that I will take in more calories than I use, I simply need to plan to create larger deficits on the other days. I of course will not starve myself, but I can make better, more thoughtful choices with the other meals that I have available.

Note here that I am not talking about nutrition, although that is important too. For weight loss purposes, a calorie is a calorie, whether it is a bowl of ice cream or a bowl of salad. For nutritional purposes (the vitamins and nutrients your body gets out of eating both), you of course go for the salad more than you do for the ice cream.

So now I have the 11 weeks to lose 12kg, to meet the original goal of losing this weight by my birthday. I think that it is amazingly tough to lose 1kg a week. I am basically telling myself to go one step further and lose 1.1kg a week. I have to think about how to do this. It might be that I can’t do this myself and that it is time to bring in a personal trainer.

Throughout this journey so far, I have told myself that I wanted to lose weight and do it in a natural way as possible. That means that I didn’t want to start using supplements (like whey powders for example), nor did I want to want to swap out ‘regular’ foods for ‘diet versions’ of food (e.g. low-fat, fat-free, etc). I wanted to eat naturally, and just make better food choices and natural substitutions. I also didn’t want to fully embrace Intermittent Fasting just yet, and I haven’t fully embraced Stronglifts 5×5 yet (I did it a few times, but I feel like that is for Phase 2 of my journey). My actions so far have carried me to 58% of my goal. I am hoping that this approach can carry me the last 42%.

Originally published at Rodney's Blog. Please leave any comments there.

It’s hard to believe that it has been 75 days since I started on this journey. 75 days! Holy shit that is a long time. But it hasn’t felt like a long. In fact, it’s felt like quite a short time. In terms of weeks, it’s only been a little over 10 weeks since I have started to focus on my eating and exercise habits.

So where has it left me?

I weighed myself today and realised that I lost 15kg since I stepped on the scale on New Year’s Day. I think that this is something to be proud of, even if I don’t feel very happy about it.

That probably sounds strange, eh? But let me explain…

As I wrote previously, I have a goal weight that I am trying to get to. My originally goal to reach that number by my birthday, but at current rate and pace, losing 1kg a week, I would miss my goal by 2 weeks. So now I have to decide how much is my goal worth to me? I probably need a couple of weeks of making myself miserable in order to get there, but I could do it. This goal is important to me. I made a promise to myself to get there by a certain date. As good as it would feel to still make the goal with only a two week delay, it still means that I will have failed.

But I will do my very best to succeed in a healthy and safe way.

No matter what, I won’t blame anyone other than myself for the end result. One of the great things about using the MyFitnessPal (MFP) app is that it adds another dimension to my eating. I like to think of it as “matrix-fying the way I consume food”.  The best way I can describe it is kinda like being Neo in the matrix. I visualise numerical values (calories, micro-, macro-nutrients) on the plate or in the glass. And most times I make smarter choices because of it.

The weight achievement I have today is tenuous. I need it to hold for the rest of the week before I declare success. And I am still of the mind to get to buy some PT time with my gym, as I do feel like what got me to this amount of weight loss so far might not be enough to get me through the next round.

In terms of exercise, it’s still pretty much the same:

  • 3x a week of body pump (I consider it working with weights, even though the internet is evenly divided on whether it has any value at all as a type of strength training )
  • 2x week of spinning
  • 1x week of something I call “cardio blast” (60-120 minutes of a sustained activity)

Sooner or later I will incorporate Stronglifts 5×5 into my life, but I am not there yet. Most of it is psychological. As I might have written earlier, my experiences in that part of the gym the few times I have been there haven’t been positive. The people there weren’t very friendly and unless you were “one of the boys”, it actually felt hostile (made to feel like I was in their way).

Anyway, to leave things on a positive note, I am happy for the gains that I have made thus far. In the grand scheme of things, I am making good progress, but not great progress. This journey stopped being easy a couple of weeks ago, but now is the time where I need to buckle down and keep at it.

Onwards and upwards!

Originally published at Rodney's Blog. Please leave any comments there.

It’s hard to believe that it has already been two months since I started My Fitness Journey! I challenged myself over a period of 6 months (okay 5 months and 2 weeks) to not only focus on my weight, but also on my nutrition.

It’s been a really interesting experience. Since New Year’s Day I have lost almost 14kg. In January I lost 10kg and in February I lost 2kg. I actually thought that I would have lost more in February, so in some ways this is disappointing. But on the other hand, one of the reasons I like to write about this is because it forces me to do the math and to be honest with myself. I have set my goal to lose a kilogram a week, and it seems like I am only doing half as much.

The really frustrating part is that in February, I kicked up the intensity of working out. A couple of days a week I added morning and evening training, and I have been making sure that 3 workouts a week are strength training (Body Pump). But I also know where I could do better:

  • I have been travelling a lot, and I have been a bit too generous with the plate portions on more than one occasion
  • When I travel, it disrupts my workout routine. I have to stop ‘trying’ to get to the hotel gym, and just go and do it. I think buying a slightly larger carry-on case will help me out here.
  • I have to make sure I don’t get discouraged and keep the longer-term view. I am not prepared to give up on reaching my goal in June!

In the larger context, I have remember that after 8 weeks, I am down 12kg, which means that overall I am slightly ahead of my target. And so far in March I am down another 2kg, which puts my even more slightly ahead. According to my Fitbit Dashboard, I am at 48% of my goal. If you had told me that I would be this far along after only 9 weeks, I would have been a bit skeptical. So the lesson I am taking from this is that:

  • I need to do  better job of logging how I feel when I go off plan (sometimes I purposely eat/drink more for special occasions). What things are stressing me out and what foods am I using to react to that?
  • I have to stop stressing out when I do go off plan. I keep on forgetting that it is marathon and not a race.
  • I should seriously consider a personal trainer for intermittent check-ins after March (we’ll see how I do). What is powering me through this first 48% may not be what is needed to power me through the remaining 52%. And some independent advice on my workout would be welcome.

But seriously, I feel good overall about where I started from and good about where I am going! I just have to keep pushing forward 🙂

Originally published at Rodney's Blog. Please leave any comments there.

So it has been awhile since I last posted about what was happening in my fitness journey. If I am honest with myself, the news hasn’t been good. In some ways, it would be easy to blame the fact that I was travelling a lot for work during the last 2 weeks or so, but that wouldn’t be the truth. The truth is also that I made several bad food choices and didn’t really commit to exercising like I should have.

Up until the first week of February, I was really pleased with myself. Even though I was travelling, I managed to eat a sensible meal, get in some sessions at the hotel gym, and tried to move around. Then this week I had a business trip to Barcelona and what can I say, the great food there was too much to resist. Add to that I was at a conference with some type of food that was served every few hours and I decided that the entire 3 days would basically be a cheat on my diet. So I basically managed to add back 2kg during the week. It was actually more than that, but I thrust myself into the gym today in order to kick-start my system. The net effect, assuming I get myself back into line, will likely be that I set myself back a kilo of weight loss.

It was a powerful lesson to learn – that when travelling I need to stick to the plan as well as I can. I think back to all of the opportunities I had to make better choices, but not eat past the point of satiety. But I ignored all of those. I am not going to beat myself up for it. I am just going to do better next time. And the next time is on Saturday when I go to London for a couple of days and then onwards to Copenhagen for a couple of days.

Diet

In terms of my diet, I have firmly left Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet behind. I am not so keen to return, despite the fact that I have put on a kilo. I think this way because I think I was not eating very clean and eating a lot more than I would have done if I had stayed at home. In fact I know it. And since I don’t have any medical conditions which require that I should have to restrict foods, I think the key word is moderation. I will try and focus on better nutritional choices and if that doesn’t work, then I will reconsider dietary choices.

Exercise

Perhaps more concerning to me is that my cardio workout is yielding less effect. I think the issue is that I have put on too much time on the elliptical trainer. According to my Fitbit Charge HR, I am burning about 15-20% less calories for the same workout. But yet, in another way I am amazed because it means that it takes less effort for the same workout so something positive is happening in the sense that I am adapting. My old knee injury means that running is still out of the question, but I know that I must switch things up. It’s just a pity because the elliptical was a great way to spend 45-60 minutes and get a great result in terms of calories burned.

I have also decided that I will start lifting weights from 01 March 2016. Right now I am using machines to lift weights, but everything I read about Stronglifts 5×5 seems too compelling not to try. The problem I have is that I want to try it without the pressure of the muscle heads around me. They are not bad people, but I guess I have unfortunately met more than a couple whom when I asked a question or two pretty much treated me like shit for asking. So I learned not to ask anymore. Maybe what I will do is to get a personal trainer to show me how to the basics for a few weeks and then continue on my own.

Anyway, it would be easy to get discouraged now and say “where are my results?!?”, but I know that when I stick to the system of movement and informed choices, that I see results. This equipment, combined with determination, shall power me to success.

Originally published at Rodney's Blog. Please leave any comments there.

So it’s been interesting to not blog about my fitness journey for a whole entire week. But rather than bore you (or myself) with all of the details of food and exercise (I track all of this daily anyway), I thought I would give some general thoughts about each day.

Exercise

So far I have managed to exercise every day this week. I plan on exercising today (Saturday), but Sunday might be a challenge because I will attend a birthday today and I have to travel tomorrow. I will try to fit in a good workout before I leave for my trip, but if I can’t, I will have to exercise at the hotel gym.

This week’s exercise is a continuation of the same as last week: 3-4x cardio and 2-3x weights. Being on Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet, I am not overly concerned about weights at the moment. I am planning that from February, I will shift the focus from cardio to weights. My mind is playing a psychological trick on me, as well as this is probably one of the drawbacks of a various digital measuring devices. Because my fitness tracker clearly shows me that I burn more calories in the same 50 minute workout doing cardio instead of weights, my thoughts instinctively track towards “spend more time on what burns more calories.” But from what I am reading, I understand that weight training will help me burn more calories throughout the day consistently whilst building muscle. And given that my lean mass has decreased on Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet, maybe that is not such a bad thing.

But generally, I enjoy exercising and whilst hitting the gym 7 days a week might be too much of a stretch, 4 days a week seems like something I can manage if I make the time for it (might be harder while travelling, but I won’t let that get in the way).

 

Diet

So far this week, I have stayed true to the South Beach Diet Phase 1 principles. I have eaten some really delicious food this week so far. Perhaps my only complaint as such is that breakfast is now becoming boring. It’s always eggs and something else. When I plan properly, food generally isn’t a problem, because cooking produces servings for 4-6 people, so there is always leftovers for lunch and dinner the next day. Luckily I can eat the same thing for a few days (not a few weeks though…like eggs) and not feel bored, mostly because you can always cook something else and introduce variety.

I do have to say that I am supposed to be on Phase 1 of the diet for today and tomorrow, but given that I am attending a birthday party, I will have a few glasses of wine. They are also serving food, but I plan to eat my meal before heading over there in order to be less hungry when I get there. I will do my best to enter in the food in MyFitnessPal, but I expect it to yell at me tomorrow and I will try not to let it derail me for Sunday and Monday when I am travelling. Given I jumped off the wagon for 2 meals last week (3 if you count the tandoori chicken soup), I said that I would extend my Phase 1 for an additional day. I am tempted to extend it to Wednesday next week, but after reading a lot of post and experiences from other South Beach Dieters, I will likely just move to ‘Phase 1.5’ for a couple of weeks…blending between Phases 1 and the more generous Phase 2. My plan is that one days when I workout hard, I can ‘treat’ myself to Phase 2. If I don’t work out, or work out poorly, then Phase 1 it is for me. Besides, I am looking forward to adding back in some of the stuff I missed the most – fruit being chief amongst them!

 

Overall, I can’t complain with how this Phase 1 has gone so far. I managed to lose 6,5 kg (14lbs) since the New Year, and 4kg of that was since I started tracking and measuring. So since I started tracking and measuring, I have achieved 15% of my goal of losing 24kg in 26 weeks! So this means that I have 24 weeks and 21kg to go in order to achieve my target. I am a bit ahead of ‘schedule’, but I can’t afford to take anything for granted. Now I need more determination and discipline than ever before.

Originally published at Rodney's Blog. Please leave any comments there.

So far, so good. There was no weight change over the last day. I shouldn’t be tracking weight changes this closely, but the simple fact is that since the technology is there to do, I just end up doing it anyway. I just keep on reminding myself that this is a marathon and not a sprint.

So the good news is that I am down 5kg since the beginning of the year (3kg of that in one week, 3-10 Jan), and my BMI has reduced 1,2% (0,5% of that in the one same week).

I am happy, but I am not going to blow it out of proportion. The main goal here is that I lose 1kg a week. Anything beyond that is potentially a bonus. I know a lot of the it is coming from the relatively (with a slip up) good eating I have done and fewer carbs.

I went for another session at the gym today and mostly did the elliptical to give my muscles a chance to rest.

For food, for breakfast I had a sorry attempt at cottage cheese pancakes that were South Beach Diet Phase 1 friendly; for lunch I had the rest of my chili; and for dinner I had soybean spaghetti with bolognese sauce (tasty and felt decadent, but the basic serving comes in at around 550 calories. I could even have made a 500 calorie version, but I know how I like my sauce.

 

Overall a pretty good day. I was happy. I have a little more than a week left on Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet before I move to 2 weeks of “Phase 1,5” which means that on the days I work out that I can eat on Phase 2, and the days I don’t work out must be on Phase 1. We’l see how it all goes.

Originally published at Rodney's Blog. Please leave any comments there.

Having gotten through Friday and feeling bad about myself for both Thursday and Friday (even though both days I stayed under my calorie goal, I didn’t stick to my nutrition goals), I decided that Saturday was a day to just pick up and carry on.

Exercise

In terms of exercise, I did 20 minutes on the elliptical trainer, 40 minutes on my strength training workout (I follow a modified machine workout course recommended by Jefit.com), and the 7 minutes of cardio cooldown. From a weights perspective, I was lifting 15% less total weight than the last time I did that workout in July. I am not surprised. In the intermittent exercises that I have been doing, it has been mostly cardio. And I did go a bit light on myself because I want to ease back into it (I’m not looking to pick up where I left off, I am looking to go beyond where I am today). It wasn’t a high-burning calorie day, but I can still feel the effects of the workout this morning (day after) which is great. The only thing I didn’t like was that even on a Saturday evening, when I thought that the gym would be quiet, it was pretty packed with people. But I was still able to generally keep to my circuit strength training with one exception).

Diet

In terms of diet, it was a much better day. I went back to my Phase 1 meal almost completely successfully.

Breakfast

  • Omlette with mushrooms, asparagus, tomatoes
  • 2 slices of turkey bacon
  • Tomato juice

Lunch

  • South Beach Diet Vegetarian Chili with Avocado Salsa (this was fantastically good) – I ate 2 servings (each serving is a ladle, and about 180 per ladle)

Dinner

  • “Entree” (post-workout) – 15 cashews, ½ avocado
  • “Main Course” – Baked salmon and oven-roasted vegetables (all of the leftovers)

Snack

I have to say that later in the evening I was still starving, so I decided to have a snack

  • The chili again, but only one serving
  • A chocolate chip cookie that my neighbor’s kid (they are always doing something like this and I felt like it would be a d*ck move to say “no I am on a diet).

 

So today from a food perspective felt a lot better. I am always well under my calorie allowance (not always a good thing) and my weight still dropped compared to the day before, so here is hoping that my complete f*ck-ups were mitigated through improving food choices and exercise. The real test will be tomorrow.

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