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My Fitness Journey – The initial plan

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

So I decided that now is the time that I have to do something about my weight. To take back control of my health. In the previous post I gave the backstory in general overview as to why I am embarking on this journey and what the triggers were.

In this journal entry, I want to spend some time talking about the initial plan that I made and explain why I made the choices that I did. In some ways, this is as much about explaining it to myself as it is showing it to others (eventually). I am quite sure that I will have to make amendments to my plan over time, and I am okay with that. After all, journeys rarely go exactly as expected.

Overall Goal

One of the things that I had to decide before I started, was what I wanted to main goal to be. Did I want to achieve only weight loss? Do I want to get tone and definition? Do I want to bulk and and gain muscle? I don’t consider these goals to be one and the same. In my opinion, what you decide to focus on should help to dictate your diet, your eating pattern, and your exercise choices. I am not saying that they are all mutually exclusive (note: I don’t have any formal education in exercise physiology or nutrition), for there must surely be some interchange between them. I can only mention here what I think would work for me. So for me, I am focused on losing weight and getting some tone and definition. That will do me quite nicely for the beginning.

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

Diet

When I had lost 50kg the first time, I went entirely by the Atkins diet, which I didn’t find to be that much of a hassle, although it did feel a little restrictive at times. Whether that was due to my own choices or the prevailing wisdom at the time, I can’t remember. But I do remember feeling great overall. I specifically remember that the Atkins diet provided a lot of counting and a lot of structure. So logic would dictate that if I want to get the same results, I should just automatically jump back into Atkins.

However, this time around, I want to give the South Beach Diet a real try. Having read the material from both books, it is clear that the initial phase is pretty much the same. However, I think the South Beach Diet allows a wider variety of foods (mostly veggies and heart-healthy foods). And more importantly, I think the South Beach Diet gets closer overall to the “clean eating concept” that I am looking to adopt longer-term.

There was also something else I decided, and that I wasn’t going to obsess over counting calories. That doesn’t mean that I decided to not count calories at all or just throw out all of the simple science. It’s accepted that you need a calorie deficit of 3500 to lose a roughly half a kilo or 1 pound (and in my case I want to strive for 1kg or 2.2 pounds a week), so I need to keep that principle in mind. What I am saying is that I don’t stress out about how much calories are in salt. If I substitute a more full-fat version of something low-fat, I am not going to beat myself up over it (besides, “light” versions of anything are tough to find in Sweden). With all of the technology I use to track things, my focus is on registering what I eat to understand patterns and make sure I get portions under control. I accept that calorie reporting will be between 0-200 calories off in any direction. So for, the focus is on eating better and I will the fact that I know that there will be some small variances to push myself a little harder during my workouts.

So with that decision make, it was time to think about eating patterns.

Eating Patterns

With eating patterns, what I mean here is how often I wanted to eat. The typical exercise guidance says that you eat three meals a day and 2-3 snacks. This is what I am used to out of habit, but when I think about, I probably really eat two meals a day and one snack. So this caused me to begin to look at intermittent fasting, and there appears to be no better authority on the topic than Martin Berkhan of LeanGains fame. Having spent a few weeks earlier in the year researching and trying out 16/8 intermittent fasting (16 hours fasting and a 8 hour feeding window), my feelings on it were mixed. But if I am to be honest, I didn’t change what I eat, I really only changed the time in which I eat it. So in 2016, it seems like it is worth another try.

I decided not to implement intermittent fasting at the same time I am starting the South Beach Diet. The reason for that was simply that I think Phase 1 of the diet, which is the most restrictive phase, isn’t the time to restrict eating when I am re-training my body to eat differently. But the decision is only temporary, as I believe that intermittent fasting is something that I should do after some time in Phase 2 of the my diet. Both because it will introduce some variation in routine and because I can’t say that I am really a breakfast person when at home (when travelling however, I very much like to have the things I won’t have at home, like bacon, pancakes, etc…I have to learn to control this).

Exercise

When it comes to exercise, in the first round of weight loss, I did it mostly through running on the treadmill and aerobic exercise, with only very minimum weight training. However, as I read more of the science, and I think about the ultimate goal, this time around I am going to shift the balance. So the plan is to do 2-3 sessions of weight training and then 3-4 sessions of cardio activity. I am sure that this will change over time, but for the moment, I am not looking to bulk up and have every vein pulse out of my body. The key goal is weight loss and tone. Ultimately if I decide on so-called “bulking up”, then I can easily change the balance.

Personal Trainer

A quick word on a personal trainer. At this beginning stage, I decided against a personal trainer (rightly or wrongly…time will tell). The reason in part was one of cost. The other reason was that I wanted to experiment on my own as I find my own path. Once I lose about half of my planned weight or I begin to plateau for a couple of weeks, I am planning on getting a personal trainer to help push me through.

Tools

Being 2016, of course there are a set of tools which help along the way to get things done. So at least at this point, I have the following kit and tooling:

Apps

  • Jefit – Which is a weight training apps that has 1000s of training programmes. The app is free and the programmes I am hoping will give me a good start.
  • MyFitnessPal – At the moment, I am just using for the food tracker, which so far seems to be one of the best out there. Chances are that someone has thought of that special dish you just created. And the community around food appears to be very good.
  • Fitbit – I have a FitBit Flex and FitBit Charge HR, both of which I use for different reasons (mostly related to battery life). I also have a FitBit Aria (their wireless scale). Therefore, since I am pretty invested in FitBit, I thought it make sense to use it track what the FitBit tracks. For the moment I use it also to track exercise. Whether I stay with that remains to be seen.
  • Runkeeper – Quite frankly the best app to keep track of your run. I haven’t been running very much, but when the spring comes, I hope my knee is in good enough shape to run again.
  • 7-minute workout. It’s a pretty neat app. HIIT exercises that you can do on the go. Which helps given the amount that I travel.

Kit

  • Fitness mat – great to have at home for exercises, including aerobic exercises, yoga, and stretching
  • Running shoes – For obvious reasons
  • Cycling shoes  – Great for spinning which is one of my favourite exercises. The popular opinion is that you are 25-30% more effect when you use the shoes.

 

So there you have it. I think this concludes my all of introductory posts. Now that I know what I want to do, it’s time to shift my focus on making it happen. So from now on, you’ll get to see it all, the good, the bad, and everything in between 🙂 Wish me luck!

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