Ok, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty, like, numbers and stuff.

No, this isn’t about the numbers.  It’s about health.  It’s about walking the walk.  I will continually discuss my ideas and beliefs about fitness and health, but I like the idea of starting this with a sort of numerical challenge.  I like incentivizing myself.  I’m like a pet, where yes, I already know how to sit, but give me a treat and I’ll make it happen.

So I have a challenge for myself: Starting November 15, 2010, and ending April 15th, 2011, I will cut my weight from 204.6 to 180 pounds and my body fat % from 24.6 to <20% (I will update this after I buy one of those fancy scales with bodyfat %).  It’s not an audacious goal, but it will take some consistent effort.  What’s the incentive?  Every month I will put $200 in a savings account, so over the 5 month period I will accumulate $1,000.  If I achieve both of my goals, I will use $800 towards a trip to Bonaroo in June 2011, and donate $200 to Direct Relief International.  If I achieve 1 of the 2 goals, I will donate spend $600 on the trip to Bonaroo, donate $200 to Direct Relief International, and donate $200 to the Republican National Committee (which I really don’t want to do). If I achieve 0 of 2 goals, $200 will still go to Direct Relief International, but the other $800 will go to the Republican National Comittee.

I have most of the plan established, but some details will be fleshed out in the first month or so.

Where:

I’m lucky: I live in Colorado, one of the best places in the world to get outdoors and be active.  And I take advantage of it…sometimes.  I do get out and spend some time in the Rocky Mountains – I snowboard, I hike, I’m not completely sedentary.    But I didn’t get fat because I run up a mountain every day.  Since I live in the middle of the city, I’ve decided to give myself both a location advantage and a financial incentive, so I’m joining a gym.  I’ve picked a gym that I think will suit my needs: Qi Denver.  To be honest though, I don’t know a ton about picking a gym, because I don’t know a lot about working out.  Qi has a lot of things that I think will be cool: many classes, high tech equipment, friendly staff, and good location for me.  Another thing they offer is a month-to-month membership, so I’m not getting married to them.  I can check them out for a month or two and see if they are serving me well.  Where I get this done is not as important as just getting it done, but I do want to exercise in a place that I enjoy.

I’ll also benefit from the winter and snowboarding.  I’ll go at least 10 times this winter, hopefully 20 or more.  Snowboarding is a unique workout that will both assist and be assisted by my gym work.  I love snowboarding, even if it wrecks my knees, and I’ll always have an incentive to do that.  As we work into the spring, there is a good chance that I’ll get back on the bicycle for travel around town, which is a great way to get extra exercise.

When:

This might translate better as “How Often”, but how doesn’t start with a W.  Like I said, this is going to take a consistent effort.  This is not a weekend hobby, it’s not a good idea that you should really get started on, like, sometime soon.  It is also not going to be easy to get back into working out on a regular basis.  My sedentary body is likely to rebel at first, in the form of sore muscles, shin splints, fatigue, or even exhaustion.  The trick is to work your body to the point that it nears these reactions, but stop before you get there.  When building muscle, you must push it to the point where you can’t do one more set – that way your body rebuilds itself stronger, so that set won’t feel so hard next time.  But if you go too far, you can compromise your bodies ability to repair itself.

Initially, I’ll start by working out 4 days/week (2 days cardio, 2 days strength).  Eventually, I’d like it to be 6 days/week (3 days cardio, 2 days strength, 1 day yoga/mixed).  My schedule is flexible enough that I can fit all of that in – and I’m serious enough about it to make the necessary sacrifices to ensure it.

Starting on November 15th, I will be participating in two classes/week at Qi for Kinesis training.  The Kinesis system is a great full-body workout, but I simply don’t know enough going in to do it on my own.  Cardio work, however, I can largely do on my own.  At the beginning, I plan on doing cardio Tuesday and Thursday mornings.  This schedule should suffice until after the holidays pass, at which point I can assess my progress and determine if it is time to up my workout frequency.  I’d like to be at 6 days/week by the end of January.

What:

It’s stunningly amazing how easy it is to lose weight: Eat less and exercise.  Of course, you break it down however you need to, but it really comes down to those two things for damn near all of us.  I’m going to just go big and tackle both of these right off the bat, but one more strict than the other.

My diet will be more theory than doctrine.  I’ve been a fan of Michael Pollan for years, since I read Omnivore’s Dilemma at Solera and really started to understand and appreciate food.  Pollan’s motto of Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. (from In Defense of Food) really rang true with me.  There was a period when I didn’t think about my food choices at all.  There was a period where I tracked calories (admittedly a short period, that was a lot to count!).  There was a time I thought about being a vegetarian, and many of those principles, ideas, recipes, and tastes stuck with me.  My ideal diet would be a vegetable centric omnivore.  I recognize the importance of getting adequate components in your diet, and I feel that a diet largely based on vegetables, supplemented by meat, fish, fruits, nuts and even sweets is plenty good if you don’t want to spend countless hours analyzing your meals.  I will stick to a few principles over this 5 month period:

  • Greens with every meal, save breakfast: It is perfectly fine if I want to have a steak for dinner – but steak isn’t the ONLY thing I’ll be having.  Even if it nominal – i.e. a salad, or grilled asparagus, or steamed broccoli – I’ll have something green with every meal.  This is hardly scientific, but it’s an easy way to remember to get something vegetable based in every meal.  I exempt breakfast because I often just have some organic cereal and soy milk at the office each morning, and I don’t like spinach in my cereal. 😉
  • NO MORE SODA, NO MORE FAST FOOD: These will actually be pretty easy – just don’t go buy fast food or soda.  As mentioned before, when I cut soda and fast food out of my diet before, I lost a lot of weight without lifting a finger.  It’s not as big of an issue for me today as it was in the past, but it still needs to be mentioned.  1 exception: Fanta Friday (I love Fanta, and I allow myself 1 every Friday.  If you have a problem with this, I will fight you.)
  • No seconds: I’m a notorious eat-until-you’re-ready-to-burst type of guy.  99% of those times I am consuming way more calories than my body needs.  This may be torture during delicious meals, but it will be necessary to reach my goals.  Due to the upcoming holidays, I’m going to have 2 exceptions for this: Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Only those 2.  Promise.
  • When deciding between two options, organic and fresh wins every time: I’ll be frank – I can afford to eat organic food.  For many, it’s a luxury.  I’m used to paying the additional cost for organic food though, and I no longer think of it.  I’ll also give preference to fresh produce, even though it may be trucked in from miles away.  This is a largely selfish pursuit – I’ll save being a locavore for when I’m fit.
  • Cheat day: Yes, I get a cheat day.  Once/week.  Usually Fanta Friday.

I won’t be counting calories, or carbs, or anything else.  It’s not that these aren’t effective methods for tracking your diet, it’s just that I don’t want to do it.  If I’m not seeing ANY results (or worse, negative results) after the new year, I may need to reconsider this.  For now, I just don’t find it necessary.

My exercise program was somewhat outlined above when discussing where I’d be working out.  Allow me to elaborate:

  • Strength training will come largely from Kinesis.  I aim to take classes for a month or two while I get used to the system, and then branch out to doing my own routine after that.  When I start my own routine, I will be keeping notes on circuits, reps, weights, etc.  For the first month, while I get acclimated, I’ll just go with the instructors suggestions.  Qi has all sorts of other strength training machines, so if I need to supplement my training with one of those I’ll be able to.
  • Cardio will be varied, so I don’t get bored.  Qi has all of your standards: treadmills, bikes, ellipticals.  They also have some unique machines (such as a low/zero impact stair machine) that I’ll likely try.  I also have two good feet for running, a good board for carving snow, and a bike in disrepair for getting around town.  Any/all of these will be used.  It is less important to me to stick to one specific cardio routine – it’s important to just get out there and get your heart pumping.  Some days I may feel like just going on a run, some days I may feel like doing the elliptical to exhaustion.
  • Yoga will also be incorporated into my workout.  Yoga will help with my flexibility and strength, especially my core strength.  On an unrelated note, it also helps with stress and anxiety in life in general, so I like to keep it part of my routine.  Qi offers many different yoga classes – I’m going to take a few to see what I like before committing to any regular regime.
  • Supplemental exercise is always available.  As I mentioned previously, I’ll be snowboarding this winter, but I won’t count snowboarding towards my workout quotient.  Hiking/biking/chopping down a Christmas tree will all probably come into play, but these are just the bonuses of living where I do.

I think that is a pretty decent summary of what I’m aiming for.  I’ll update this post Saturday or Sunday night, as soon as I get that fancy scale I was talking about.

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