Thursday, March 22, 2007

The big thing I've been doing in that last 2 months is that I dove headlong into renovating myself: tear it down and build it up again. I've gone off and on the idea of getting fit, but after New Year's and my birthday I decided to make an effort. To be specific, it was a moment when I saw some pictures from the holiday and realized that I wasn't happy with the shape I was in: rounded. I've never been 100% comfortable with my body (yes, men have body issues too), and now is the time to take action, to reinvent a new version of me.

  • I try to keep track of calories using a calorie counter, keeping to around 2000 a day. It's not a compulsive bite by bite analysis, but the odd day here and there, I enter everything I ate and get a framework to go from. An "at rest/sedentary" person of my age uses about 1800, so if I aim for 2000 with an active lifestyle (which uses about 2300), that should prompt the weight loss. Holy crap, I have an active lifestyle.
  • Part of that lifestyle comes from going to the gym 5 - 6 days a week now. One day full core training workout plus 30 minutes of cardio, second day is all cardio, and alternate with one day off to rest. I hope to mix a group class into there too, once I feel confident I can keep up. Building muscle is just basically tearing the muscle and giving it time to repair itself better than before, so rest is important.
  • I use Canada's Food Guide to map out how to cover all the food groups, with emphasis on whole grains, fruit and veg, and good cuts of meat.
  • I'm not on a diet, because diets are are limited in expectations and scope. You can't stick to a diet like South Beach or Atkins for your entire life, I think it's unrealistic. I just do a little research, cut out processed "ready to eat" meals (most are quite high in sodium), and fatty foods. The odd day off the plan is allowed, usually if I am eating out at a good restaurant or having a pint. I make up for it the next day. I don't want to live longer if I can't enjoy a good piece of cheese or the occasional scoop of ice cream.
  • I drink 2 litres of water per day. Good for the body, good for the skin. I've cut out soda pop (just a concentrated sugar delivery system). This switch alone can shave a pound or two off the average person.
  • Of course I have playlists set up in the iPod to keep me motivated while I workout, especially for cardio, where I tend to get bored. This ALOTT5MA article has good recommendations for what songs are ideal for working out, and has some song suggestions. I am citing this as the reasons that I have Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" on my iPod. Stop judging me Judgy McJudgerson.
  • I still have pain in my left foot when I run and weakness in that ankle, so until I see an orthopedist I do my cardio on the elliptical machines, 30 - 45 minutes.

The best way for me to get into things like this is to get obsessed with it, make fitness a hobby. As the crate of E-Bay obtained Simpsons figures sitting in the basement attests to, I can get quite involved when I get fixed on a hobby/goal.

I set out and timed everything out: I had my annual physical set up the weekend before I started at a gym. Whenever I asked my doctor about an ache or pain that I had, and the answer came back "dropping weight would change that", I was able to come back "I'm on it". Now I have some stats to use as a starting point. If there's one thing we neurotic geeks like, it's stats.

I did my research and decided to join
Goodlife Fitness. I've had bad experiences with other clubs that screwed me over when I tried to quit or take time off, and others where I've felt too much of a "jock" atmosphere to feel comfortable. Goodlife was quite good at getting me started: I caught the end of the January New Year's special so it was only $1.00 to join, with no initiation or starting fees. They also had a start-up special where I received 6 sessions with a trainer for $120, where we set up a workout, looked at body composition, measurements and nutrition, and got everything in motion.

They bill by-weekly and the membership at one club gets you access to all the clubs in the chain, something that appealed to me because I commute. The only hiccup was that I've found the Union Station club, where I get my train home, is at a higher membership level. I've since transferred the membership down here and found that I am going to the gym far more frequently, as I finish work, go to gym, and then get the late train home.

All told, I seem to be doing well. I had a brief lapse when, after a week of fitness and nutrition, my body rebelled and caught a bad case of the flu. I guess the reduction in fats and increase in oxygen in the blood startled my system into shock. "Dude! What the hell is this?", and it went into a reset mode that knocked me out for a week or so. Nutrition was fine, but it was 2 weeks before I was back at the gym.

Here I am then, about a month and a half (a month if you cut out the sick time) and I feel and look better. Some of the various aches and pains have disappeared, my back is getting better. I dropped 7 lbs. so far, not counting the increase of muscle mass. Yes, I now have muscle mass. And lung capacity. And blood flow. Awesome.

I'll put an update up here once in a while. Accountability improves my commitment to this fitness plan. If anyone wants some tips, fitness playlists of music, or a reference to check out Goodlife, drop me a line.



mich said...

just wanted to say good for you!