Okay, now I’ll go over my exercise. This is not to be construed in any way shape or form as me saying, “This is what you need to do to lose weight!” There’s a lot of ways. This is just how I’ve been doing and it and what works for me.
The first thing I’m going to talk about is motivation. Hmmm… Thought you were going to talk about how you exercise, you might say. Well, I will, but the first part and the most important part of exercising is motivating yourself to get off the couch and get into the gym. My first motivation was simple. I wanted to be able to run around with my kids without being out of breath. I wanted to be able to take them on the stuff I liked as a kid like backpacking. But you have to be a bit in shape for that kind of stuff. My other motivation was selfish. I wanted to go out and do more backpacking, do more in the outdoors. So, when I started hitting the gym, it became easy for me to do that. Most of the time when I’m at a gym, I always position myself in an area where I can try to see out a window. It’s simple for me. I’m not going to the gym so I can really look good in the mirror or just to lose weight. That’s not my motivation. My motivation is I want to lose weight so when the weekend comes I’m not in the gym and I can be out playing in what I am looking at through the window. A little later I’ll talk about how getting started has led to other things motivating me. But now, exercise.
In the earlier note, I said exercise was critical as part of my diet. It is. Without it, I wouldn’t lose anything. The reason is because when you work out, you burn so many amount of calories. A lot of people decide they want to lose weight, start exercising, burn themselves out and starve themselves in the process. The problem is when you burn calories exercising, you have to eat more and cleaner to keep your body moving. It’s like an engine. It gets into science, but if you don’t eat a little bit more then you start getting fatigued, you can burn muscle and your body doesn’t recuperate well. Let’s take today as an example. I’m supposed to have a 2,000 calorie diet as a male. To lose a pound a week, lop off about 200 cals. That puts me at 1,800. I went out running. I burned 500 cals. That means I actually need to eat 2,300 calories in order to still lose the pound. So, in essence, I just got a bonus. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t mean you can go eat McDonalds and be okay. Eat that stuff and you’ll be overbudget in a hurry. But it does give me wiggle room.
A big thing I would suggest for anyone is to get on a free online food and exercise tracker. I use My Fitness Pal because its recipe library is pretty extensive. There’s also Livestrong.com and sparkpeople.com. It helps keep accountability of what you are eating and gives pretty good guesstimates on your cals burned. It doesn’t take into consideration your metabolism kicking in, but its better than nothing.
I started my exercise slowly. I’d go to the Y and the work gym and do the eliptical trainer for about 20 minutes five to six times a week. It helped. Last year, doing that I lost about 25 pounds. But it also hurt in the end. I got bored with it, and by the time winter rolled around it wasn’t enough to keep up with me eating Christmas cakes and holiday lattes. I gained 15 pounds over winter. By the time spring rolled around, I knew I had to do another kickstart. Oh, I also got into mountain biking last year. But I found every time I went mountain biking I ended up eating like a horse after a ride. I might have been burning cals, but I lost nothing because I wasn’t keeping track.
So, I got on MFP, started tracking and then started upping my exercise a bit. I threw in trail running, running on the treadmill, biking, stair climbing. Just mixing it up to keep me from being bored. A little more than a month ago, I added in weights. I took everything step by step. Gradually increasing what I was doing. A year ago, I was doing 20 minute sessions on the eliptical. Now sometimes when I go to the gym, I sometimes have hour and a half marathons between cardio and weight lifting. For example, two weeks ago, I did my own mini triathlon in the gym – 15 minute swim, 15 minute run, 15 minute bike and then topped it off with a weight training session. I do at least 30 minutes cardio now six times a week with a rest day. You need to rest the muscles. I do three weight training days working arms and chest one day, shoulders and back one day and legs the last day. Lastly, on the weekends I make sure I throw in some outdoor activities. Yesterday I did a two hour bike ride and today I did a 35 minute trail run. Variety is the spice of life for me.
The result has been the better at cardio I become, the more it fuels me for my outdoor adventures and the more I burn doing those outdoor adventures. Case in point, I went to Enterprise South to ride Saturday morning. Three months ago, I did a loop and was gassed. Had to turn back. Last October, I had to do walk-a-bike up one trail in the park because there was so much climbing. Saturday, I did three loops of the place and hit that same climb I had trouble with in October and barely stopped. Three months ago, I could barely do 45 minutes of mountain biking and now I can go two hours.
Forty-five minutes of mountain biking equals about 600 cals burned. Two hours equals almost 1,400. The math is pretty good for losing weight if its the latter and not the former, isn’t it?
Those are also days when I do get to eat a bit better. After I mountain bike, the first thing I do is drink a pint of chocolate milk, not gatorade. Why? It has protein in it that helps build muscle, the fat in the milk helps hydration and it’s pretty doggone yummy after an intense workout. Like drinking a rewarding dessert. And I don’t have to feel bad about it.
I said I would talk about other motivations. Now that I have intensified my workouts, lost weight and feel better overall, I’m finding myself looking at some other short term goals. I want to do a race in September called The Warrior’s Dash. It’s a little outdoor adventure thing and looks fun to me. I’m thinking of doing a duathlon in October with mountain bike and trail run. I’m thinking now that maybe I can do things I hadn’t thought about before.
This is something I’ve suddenly become passionate about in the last few months. I hope some of you all might find this helpful and get some ideas.