Getting Fit: Creating a Plan that works for You
Fasting a Fitness Choice
Welcome back. I have some great news. I weighed in at the end of February and lost 5 pounds! Five pounds in a month is a healthy and strong start for my weight loss and fitness journey.
In my previous post Weight Loss not a Success Story, Yet I went into detail about my process for losing weight and getting fit. I have approached this on a month by month basis while assessing progress each month. February was a consistent and strong month for me as far as staying on track, but it was January’s self-assessment that helped me to be successful.
Planning for Weight loss Success
The pre-planning stage was hard mainly because I have always been the type of personality that just wants to get started, so I had to force myself to take a month to just watch and learn. What I observed in January was that I was eating too many calories for my current sedentary lifestyle.
Next step: I researched different options for reducing calories, and then matched that with what I know about myself in regards to my abilities, resources, habits, and quirks.
This is the first time that I have taken an analytical approach to weight loss and so far so good. It is important to keep in mind that we are all at different stages in our lives, with different resources, needs, and abilities.
“Before you start a journey you need the road map for how to get there.”
Here are some examples of things that I took into consideration:
Calorie Counting: Using the My Fitness App I track my daily calorie intake.
How my body reacts to hunger (When I get too hungry I get nauseous and hangry.)
Level of Fitness (1-10 I am probably a 3-4 now.)
Activity level throughout the day (Sedentary)
Resources (Limited in regards to buying specialty foods and/or exercise equipment.)
Resources available (exercise machines, walk paths, stairs at work….)
Obstacles (What are my known obstacles/excuses that I use and how can I work around them.)
Exercise + Diet: Unlocking Fat Loss
Next step is to create a plan. The plan has to be realistic. That means you need to use your self-inventory to guide it so it fits you.
Just remember that your plan is a step to help you change and grow, to help you get stronger, to challenge your mind and your body. It has to be malleable, adaptive: it has to be a living plan. Do you ever hear people talking about cities, saying that if they don’t grow they die? Our bodies are like that too. They need to grow. They need to be challenged to live to our fullest health and potential. How beautiful would that be?
Later on, if it helps anyone I will try and make a more thorough chart/checklist to help others. Any suggestions or thoughts you would like to offer would be greatly appreciated.
In one of my previous jobs there was a saying, “If it’s not documented it didn’t happen.” Most of us groaned about that, because documenting was a lot of work, but when you documented you were able to track progress. In our day to day lives it is so easy to get sidetracked. Take a little notebook with you, or use your phone, but really pay attention to how your plan is working for you. Later you will see what I have documented. It’s not always pretty, but it will help you to adjust things and better understand yourself.
Instead of spending months doing the same thing, not seeing weight loss, increased endurance, stamina etc., take the time to note what is working, what isn’t working, and most importantly why you think it is or isn’t working.
For example, if I said I would walk an hour every day, what happened when I didn’t? What stopped me? Was it something out of my control? Was it the weather, or an injury, or did I just make up excuses? If I made up excuses then I need to ask myself why. The answer will be unique to you so be sure to be honest and look at it from different angles.
The answers may or may not surprise you. Next analyze what needs to change. Maybe you don’t like walking alone. Maybe you don’t enjoy walking at all. Maybe you have allergies. Once you have figured out the why, what are you going to do about it?
So February was my first month using my plan. I chose to fast until noon as part of my calorie control, then walk an hour during my lunch break. The fasting worked out great actually much better than I had anticipated I really thought that I would crash and burn on that one, because as I mentioned earlier when I get hungry I get nauseous and HANGRY.
The hungries usually hit me around 10:00 a.m. How did I compensate? I drank cold water. Have you ever noticed that when you are hungry and if you drink something cold you can feel it cool your stomach down? Ha ha, maybe that is just me, but drinking the water really helped. While I love drinking water, normally my fluid intake is very low, so this has helped with hydration, and that is a key factor in optimum health, fitness, and weight control.
As for the walking an hour during my lunch break that did NOT work out. The weather stayed miserably cold for February. I have been known to walk in 10 degree weather, but with the wind chill it was often in the negative/below zero temps throughout all of February.
Now came the moment of truth. Would I just give up and say that fasting was enough, or would I adjust? I did adjust. We have some stairs at work so I would do a quick set of 5 reps anywhere from 3-5 times a day.
The stairs were a good aerobic exercise, and I felt challenged by them. The first time I walked the stairs my legs were got that achy, tired feeling, but I persisted, and by the end of the month I was going up and down the stairs 5 times each for a total of 25 sets.
I noticed that I was getting stronger as the days went by, so at one point I challenged myself by picking up the pace going up. I wouldn’t actually run up the stairs, because I am not there yet, but I would go up faster than a walk, and that really got the old heart pumping. I wasn’t pushing myself to a heart attack. It was less than a minute to get to the top, then I would walk back down to give my heart a short rest and do it again on the way back up.
Conversely, if I was achy or sore from a workout, I would adjust my routine. For example, instead of hurrying up the stairs, I walked up them. Working my plan also required mental practice. I talked myself through how I felt about stepping back. I did not beat myself up. I remembered the strides forward, and I didn’t see a step back as a negative. It’s all part of the cycle.
All of this took time, and I was always assessing. If you ask yourself how long does it take to notice weight or fat loss, remember that all the small improvements are the building blocks for the bigger changes. If you don’t have a strong foundation you will not have a healthy, and sustainable fitness plan.
During February I started planning to step things up in March. I wanted to focus on my upper body strength. Anaerobically my upper body is probably where I am the most out of shape.
Even though we still have a week in March I have decided to add my March report on this post. Let me just say that if you are struggling in your fitness journey this section will not make you feel envious. March has not been productive.
The plan was to add 50 stomach exercises, 1 pull up bar hang a day (more detail on that in a bit), and 20 push ups. I was going to continue with fasting, because it was a good way to cut out those extra breakfast calories, and I would continue tracking my calories on Myfitnesspal.
In addition, I would continue with the stair workout but would also add in a one hour walk in the afternoon.
Hmmm…. I stuck to my fasting lol. Everything else was hit or miss. I tried walking at work, but the path and sidewalks were covered in ice. I was moving so slowly that I just didn’t feel it was worth the risk. The caloric burn at normal walking speed is only around 200+ on average for an hour, and since I was going to have to walk much slower now that would be cut in half.
Aerobics/Stairs: Was a hit or miss, as were the number of times that I would do them. Each set stayed consistent with a round of 5 sets per instance. On some days I did one round of five, other days 3 rounds (15 sets of up and down) and still other days I didn’t do any. In addition, there were days I would push myself to go up faster, raising my heart rate, and others I just walked them. Possible reasons: boredom, overheating (when I get overly hot I don’t like it, and since once done I had to go sit back down at my desk…) Possible solutions at least till it warms up more is to use the other stairs which are cooler.
Weight bearing exercises: Push-ups, stomach exercises and hangs: I started out the first week doing well and being consistent and after that not so much. I like the hangs (which was just hanging for as long as I could from a pull-up bar) the purpose being to slowly over time strengthen my upper body to the point where I am strong enough to do pull ups. I enjoyed doing these, because I was tracking how long I could hang and each time I could see I was improving, but that also required asking someone to assist with timing, and that got tricky because of different schedules. I want to keep doing this, I just have to figure out how it will work best.
Stomach exercise: Sigh (I literally sighed thinking of this.) I don’t like them. I don’t know why; I know I need them. Part of the problem may be that unlike the hangs I couldn’t tell if I was making progress or just doing moves. If I cannot somehow quantify how the exercise is helping me i.e. sore muscles, increased endurance etc…. I start to convince myself that the exercise is not working.
Push-Ups: I’ve been able to do push ups for years, so imagine my shock, surprise and concern when I could barely do one. In the past push-ups, while hard, were not impossible, but this time it wasn’t a case of just being weak. It was a case of being weak due to back issues.
Let me explain, about six months ago, I noticed that my spine and muscles in the middle of my back and up into my neck always felt tight like my shoulder blades were being pulled together. When I tried exercises like planks I could feel a pinching in the middle of my back. This also affected my ring and pinky fingers depending on the day. One day the right pinky and ring finger would feel numb and tingly, and on another day it might be the left. It was uncomfortable, but I lived with it.
Last week, on Friday, while at work a sharp pain shot up through my right arm into the muscles running up my spine from the middle up into the base of my neck. It hurt bad enough that I left work early and made an appointment with a chiropractor.
Back to the push-ups. I struggled to do them, because where my spine was out of place, in several spots, affected the shoulder muscles. One time I barely got one in, another I forced out four, but most of the time I just didn’t even try. Now that my back has been adjusted I will have to see about slowly strengthening my upper body again.
Calorie counting was also hit and miss. I’ll be honest mostly miss. Counting what I ate for lunch was easy, but I started cheating, a lot, and I chickened out on adding those cheat snacks. In addition, my husband was cooking different types of meals that required me adding recipes into the MyFitnesspal App. Sometimes that would be easy, and sometimes it would be hard. The app didn’t always recognize the link or the ingredients etc…. Or it would say there was a difficulty, and that it would add the recipe later, but when I would check the recipe wasn’t there. I still like and use the app. I’m just saying that there were a number of factors that started to frustrate me, so that may come back to bite me. I guess we will know for certain at the end of this week on my weigh in.
Looking ahead: April Fitness Plan
Looking ahead to April: The weather should finally be nice enough to get out in the evenings. I would like to get back into biking. I have a really nice bike that we invested in a couple of years ago, and I really do enjoy biking. I have at least two nice recreation areas near me, and in the past I have been able to see improvement when going distances, especially up hills/inclines. I am sure that I have lost a lot of that, so it will be a welcome challenge to regain that back plus more.
I want to stick with the stairs at work and get in an hour walk. That is where I have the least ability to be flexible and where my life is regulated by someone else. Since I have to take a mandatory half hour lunch, and I have been going into work half an hour to forty-five minutes early, I can reclaim that time at lunch. It makes sense to do these at work also, because this is where I am the most sedentary.
I plan on continuing to fast, but I am considering going on a month-long detox diet. This isn’t some plan or program. I am just looking at cutting out sugar, at least processed sugar which includes sugars added to condiments. I can consume fruits for my sugar fix.
I also want to cut out processed foods. I feel like my body needs a cleanse, a chance to heal without all the processed gunk, so that it can run more efficiently. Notice I said considering because I know that this will be hard, and I need to have a solid plan of how I will do this before I commit. Otherwise, it will fail before I get out the gate. I do feel strongly that if I don’t do this in April that I will be doing it sometime this summer.
I am also considering eating a regular meal for lunch at work and taking my protein shake at dinner. My reasoning is I noticed that I have been eating more than one portion at dinner. Hey, my husband is a good cook, and he has found some very tasty meals online, lately. My shake is maybe 380 calories. It is very filling, and I could actually add peanut butter to it (I took peanut butter out of my shakes for March because it added so many calories) to help sustain me through the night. Also if it is easier to digest that might help my body to do recovery work in the evening rather than focusing on digesting a meal. This would be a doable plan that I could implement easily. If it works I might not be coming home so hungry.
Well, that is the tentative plan for ahead. Next time we will see if I set myself back when I weigh in. I would love to hear your thoughts on my process as well as how your fitness journey is going.
One of my loyal fans asked for a March update on my fitness:
For March I am happy to say that I didn’t gain weight, but neither did I lose any weight, so I can surmise that while I was not consistent with exercise that fasting helped me to maintain.
What were your final results for March in terms of weight loss?