Tracking Your Weight Loss Journey

In order to ensure that you stay on track with your weight loss goals, there are several things that are worth tracking. By keeping an ongoing record you can trend your results and determine whether you are succeeding or not easily.

Here are the ones that have been particularly useful to me.

Weight : If weight loss is your purpose. (or gain)

Muscle Mass : Tracking muscle mass in relation to body fat percentage and weight is very helpful especially as you get closer to your goals.

Body Fat Percentage : It is a universally accepted measure for how much of your body mass is fat.  Ideal numbers are different for men and woman.  Irrespective, this will prove an overall indicator of your success, and will be very helpful when making decisions about exercise and diet.

Base Metabolic Rate :  This tracks the amount of calories your body burns in a resting state. It is helpful for working out the correct diet / exercise combination to ensure that you maintain just the right sustainable caloric deficit.  If you know what your base metabolic rate is and you know what you caloric burn is for the exercise you do, you can easily adjust your diet to the right level, to create the right balance.

Physical measurements :  Fairly simple if you are just focused on loosing weight.  Use a measuring tape.  Getting closer to goals, I have found measuring tapes rather unreliable and not very helpful.  I like taking photos (selfies) at regular intervals (every 6-8 weeks.)  Easy enough to compare, and see your results.

Food : Knowing what and how much you eat is useful for making sure you maintain the right balance between food and exercise.  Since results tend to develop over time, I have found it particularly useful to keep track of my meals.  When I make dietary adjustments, for whatever reason, it is easy to see whether a change actually has an affect or not, especially when done in correlation with the other factors tracked.

Training :  Knowing how many calories you burn from which training sets, and which training sets you do, historically tracked, will make it possible for you to trend results as well as determine whether changes have had an affect, and what that affect was. Positive of negative.

You cannot track what you do not measure, and if you do not measure, how do you know if you are successful or not?

Measure. Track. Adjust. Succeed….

What Do Your Habits Do For You?

Consider this.  How did you get here? What were the things that led you to a point where things are bad enough for you to think about changing things?

Not surprising is that most often it is not one or two single things that have caused you to become the person you are now, but rather a confluence of many things and events.  Many things joining together towards this result. That makes it especially hard to change.

More often than not it is also very difficult to find the root causes of what got you here, and will require considerable amounts of therapy to resolve, or..

In reality what causes us to become the person that we are so dissatisfied with does not really matter that much, but rather what it takes to actually change successfully.  And often it will prove to be the smallest of things that will lead to a totality of success.

Habits.   Do your habits enslave you, or work for you?

Therein the problem, and the solution.  For most of us, over time, we have developed significant number habits.  Habits that have created the you that you are now.

To create someone new then it means that you will have to create new habits.  Habits that drive you towards the person you want to be.

Easier said than done, I know but if you really want to change, it can be done.

Pick one small habit. Something that should not be to hard to change.  Change it.  It takes about 21 days for a new thing to become a habit.  Add another, and another, until you have a totality of habits that will create the exacting you that you wish to be.

Let your habits work for you, instead of being their slave.

This way you can create the person you wish to be, rather than the person you are now.

Simple as that.

In Pursuit of Happiness

It amazes me everyday how much I have compromised in my life, often for reasons, which really does not make that much sense.  Every compromise, however small or large, slowly chiseling away at my happiness, slowly moving me into a compromised state of comfort.

To make things worse, the comfort became so addictive that I fiercely protected it nearly to the point of my own destruction, and still do to some degree.  And though this may not have been conscious, my behavior continued to drag me down deeper and deeper into the abyss.  Every action I took reinforcing my resolve to stay comfortable (and more lost).

At some point however, I started realizing that this does not actually constitute or enhance happiness of any kind.  If anything it only caused anxiety and depression, ever deepening.  So much so that it drove me straight into what could only be described as an early midlife crisis.  I needed to change my life.  Dramatically….

When I finally realized this, I did make some changes and continue to do so.  I was very overweight. I am no longer that.  I was living an extremely unhealthy lifestyle.  I live an active and healthy lifestyle now.  I hated my job.  I am working very hard on changing that. All-round things are looking up, though still not quite there yet.

In this process, which has so far spanned several years, I have learnt this :

  1. You need to know what it is you want to change.  Even though you may not know the destination, if you identify things you are unhappy with you can start working on those.
  2. You have to want it.  Really want it…
  3. It will be uncomfortable.  Everything around you will rebel against your change.  Try to stop you and drag you back down.
  4. You need a plan.  What are you going to do to affect the change?  And then do it.
  5. Never Stop. Just don’t.  Just keep going until you get there…

Following this formula slowly but surely you will reclaim your life and your happiness.

Slowly but surely…..

Group Fitness. The things I do…

Over the past few years I found myself testing and trying various different fitness approaches, trying to figure out the things that work for me and I like.

I tried several of the activities available in my local gym including, treadmill, circuit and weights.  Found all of these rather tedious fairly quickly.  Not wanting to give up, I thought I would give group fitness a go.  This proved my bliss, so over time I have established a mix of classes that do everything for me that I need and more.

Les Mills – Body Combat

High intensity cardiovascular workout.  Get’s my heart pumping and increased my fitness to the highest level it has ever been. My resting pulse is below 50 and I feel like a man half my age.  It also combines mixed martial arts into the workout.  There is a point to doing this class that goes beyond just exercise.  Significantly more effective than a treadmill and a lot more fun.  Even when the instructor is shouting at you…

Les Mills – Body Pump

Group fitness weight class.  Using weights choreographed to rhythmic music you get a full body weight lifting workout.  Easy enough to challenge yourself if you want to.  If you find a good instructor, motivation is easy and the results are phenomenal.  I use this for muscle building.  Great substitute for any weight or circuit work that you could do, and considerably more fun.

Les Mills – CXWorx

Good solid 30 minute core work fitness class.  Focuses from the neck down to your but.  Front and back.  Though I admit this is probably not my favourite class, and most certainly I would not drive to the gym just for this class, I have seen some near instant benefit from this.  Improved core strength, balance and many other benefits especially when tacked onto another group fitness class.

Les Mills – Body Flow

I do this mostly as a resting day workout. As a Yoga – Thai Chi – Pilates based class it is a fabulous stretch.  It certainly is a good workout if it is your only workout.  For me it is about keeping me moving and flexible. I do a lot of tough fitness work and this makes a massive difference to my bodies ability to endure the challenges of these.

Zumba

Let the party start.  A dance fitness class that will keep you coming back over and over and over.  In fact I love it so much I ended up taking the instructor training.  Loads of fun and a great workout if you are looking to up your cardiovascular fitness.

No matter what anyone says.  If you are not trying to be a competing body builder, group fitness is the way to go.  Not only will it help you reach your goals but it will let you do it with joy.  It is fun, engaging and worth the trouble.  Works for me…

Obsession

You have decided to start your weight loss journey.  You are motivated and excited to get things moving.  Even more so by the image of who you expect to be after you have succeeded.  Beautiful body is your destiny.  You know, like in the magazines…

And the promises.  Near instant results are always guaranteed?….

Getting started is often easy enough for most of us.  Unfortunately shortly after getting started, reality will hit you right down if you let it.

Here is the truth.

Every fitness model in every magazine has worked long and hard for their look.  And by work I do not just mean exercise or diet or any one thing.  For them to have reached their success, they will have had to make a real commitment to carefully manage every aspect of their lives, with a single minded focus.  Get there and stay there.

They would also have had to do so for a long time.  Their success will have taken many years of blood, sweat and tears. Many years of sacrificing many things that we often take for granted.  The illusion that you could be fat today and thin and hot tomorrow, with little effort and time is just that.  An illusion.  Sure it is spellbinding, but an illusion nonetheless.

Obsession is what it will take. This means:

  • You will have to diet with single minded obsession.
  • You will have to exercise with single minded obsession.
  • You will have prioritise your life with single minded obsession.
  • You will have to live through, pain and discomfort, with single minded obsession.
  • You will have to sacrifice many things in your life, with single minded obsession.
  • You will have to do all of these at the same time for a long time, with single minded obsession.

It will be uncomfortable. It will be painful.  It will be hard.  It will also be fun. It will be exciting. And it will be worth it in ways that you cannot imagine.

Trust me on this one thing.  It is so worth it…

Limits “Un”-Defined

It is so truly amazing how easy it is for us to decide our limits and abilities without even really giving it a second thought.  Every decision we make and every thought that we have, defines who we think we are and what we think we are capable of. Limits what we can achieve.  Limits who we can be.

Talking to good friend in the throws of starting his first business, we were discussing potential clients.  Suggesting that he reach out to a rather large company in his field, his first and immediate reaction was, “They are too big a fish”.  And that was it.  Limit defined.

My next questions were : Why?  How do you know? What do you have too loose by trying?

The point is this.

How do you know if you do not at least try?

Think you cannot pick up the weight at the gym?  How do you know?  Have you tried?  Really tried?

Think you will never survive the next fitness class?  Are you sure?

Think you cannot loose weight? Hmpf….

No argument it will not be easy.  And your motivation to succeed will be tested over and over and over.  But if you never stop testing your limits, you will never find them.  All you have to do is just keep on testing.

Unlimited…  Just saying….

We Only Live Once

I was chatting to a good friend the other day, discussing the challenges associated with eliminating sugar out of any diet. And though we could not fully agree on the merits of such an action, she did make a statement that was rather disconcerting for it’s intent and context.  It was even more so since I have heard this statement from so many people in my life with similar context.  It is a defeatist statements.  It serves as an excuse for doing so many life destroying things.

“We only live once…”

Does that mean that it is fine to eat poison (things like sugar and chocolate and greasy cholesterol ridden foods), just because we must?  Because it will hurt or kill you sooner or later.  Or perhaps we should just jump out of a plane without a parachute.  Might be more fun and quicker at least.  I mean if suicide is your desire….

We only live once after all. Right?…

A little extreme, I know..

For me the realisation of the meaning of this statement however, holds a somewhat different meaning.  A question of how great will that life be?

I want to do things just because I can.  I want to live a long and healthy life.  I do not wish to die young and I most certainly do not wish live my life in a state of illness and discomfort for any duration of time.   If I am sticking around, I want to enjoy my life.  All of it.

So let’s stop using this as excuse for destructive behaviour and rather use it as a motivation for creating a better life.  A healthier life.  A life that is actually worth living, where we can live it focusing on things that really matter, rather than these trivial yet oh so destructive behaviours.

Live, love and enjoy the things that really matter.  And make it last if you can…. Just my two cents….

The Importance of Measurable Self Image Goals

“I am fat”.  “I am unfit”.  “I am unhealthy”….. or am I?

The age old question of “to be or not to be…”

Working through my self image issues as I progressed with my fitness and health quest, has been no simple task.  No matter how successful you end up being, since self image driven results are so subjective, there will always be that niggling disbelief in the result.

Even when you reach your weight loss goals, it is easy to still look in the mirror and be unsatisfied with your appearance.  You still have that skin or this shadow in the wrong place.

This inevitably becomes a significant source of stress and agitation leading to other issues, including eating disorders and psychological conditions including depression and anxiety or just a simple lack of self confidence.

Despite the fact that I have successfully lost 80 pounds, and by any definition would be considered a very fit individual, I still look in the mirror and remain unsatisfied.  I am still uncomfortable to take my shirt off in public.  My focus tend to significantly be on my areas of failure, rather than my extraordinary success.

For me the solution to dealing with this insanity at least somewhat, proved to be clearly defined and measurable goals.  Weight loss is simple to measure.  Just get on a scale.  Once the goal was reached I also had a marker of weight that I could hold to.

A generally accepted measure for fitness is heart rate.  Beats per minute.  I am currently at a waking pulse below 50 beats per minute.  I am fit and I can measure that.

Health.  Probably a little more difficult, but a regular checkup with your doctor should do the trick.  Take advantage of regular blood tests to help you figure out your best life strategy for change or maintenance.

What’s left.  Waistline skin and muffin tops.  I found this a particularly tough one, because it is so hard to measure.  The best you can hope for is to measure progress.  Let that be your goal.  A photo works well for comparison every month or two.

The point is this.

Whatever goal you seek to achieve, make sure that it is clear, and definitively measurable.  Do not get caught in the subjectivity trap that is self image.  Sure, you may find that you are still not satisfied when you have reached your goal.  It is fine to reassess and set a new goal, but make sure that it is measurable and safe. That’s it…

The Most Powerful Weight Loss Tool Ever

In a world where instant gratification is not only a way of life, but expected and often anticipated, it is no surprise that we so easily forget to use one of the most powerful tools ever to exist.  A tool that everyone of us already possess, if we chose.

This is even more true when it comes to our weight loss struggle.  When we start, our expectations are often misguided. We want to believe the advertising and marketing that so dramatically takes advantage of our desperation.  Unrealistic promises and beautiful models sell stupidity, fuelling completely unrealistic expectations.

Sadly all the hype usually just results in nothing.  We fail because we want to believe the nonsense which causes us to ignore the most powerful tool in our personal tool kit.  A tool which when combined with anything else we do, will change the outcome every single time.

That tool is “Patience”.

If you apply patience to anything you endeavour to do, your chances of success grows incrementally.

Do exercise and be patient.  You will get results.

Diet and be patient.  You will get results.

No matter what you do, with patience you can be completely unstoppable.  The results of whatever you do with patience is always there.  You can be certain of that.

That’s really it. Simple, effective and guaranteed to yield results, if you have patience…

Food. Food. Glorious Food.

Fad diets. Special smoothies. Appetite suppressants. Diet supplements.  Instant, do nothing loose weight secrets.  The list is never-ending….

Too bad most of these never really work as advertised, and even if they do work somewhat, any results you get from these are short lived and never lasts.

No matter which one of these you end up on, you can only do them for so long.  They are simply not sustainable.  Any gains that you have made will likely be lost the second you stop.  More often than not, the gains also come at a cost to health and well being, especially if followed for extended periods of time.  Somewhat counter intuitive.

The answer is food. Real food.

True, the results you seek may take a little longer.  True, it may seem a little more complicated than just taking a diet supplement or drinking a smoothie.  It may even require some more planning and care.

It will serve you much better to rely on real food to get you there. Especially if you wish to loose weight sustainably and stay healthy throughout the process.  You will also be able to develop a lifestyle that is conducive to staying where you are once you have reached your goals. What is really the point of putting your body through the discomfort of reaching a weight loss goal, if you are not able to sustain it once reached?

Some of the benefits of eating real food are :

  • It is easy to track.
  • It is easy to adjust as the need arises.  You can create a long term lifestyle around it.
  • It is much healthier (if you don’t eat junk food).
  • It is indefinitely sustainable.
  • It usually tastes a bit better.

I live by this rule.  I eat real food.  I lost 80 pounds.  I have kept it off for years now.

So can you…