When I was young, I was an active person. I was a cheerleader in the south, where it’s taken as seriously (if not moreso) than football. We had two-a-day practices during the summer.
I didn’t actually appreciate I was a slender person until I looked back at photos from high school many years later… In college I took up martial arts, and by the time I was a senior I was taking or teaching as many as 8 classes a week. I was fit. I also collected some big-ass trophies from tournaments. I eventually threw those away, but I still have my gi and my belts. (stopped at first degree black belt, if you’re interested).
Then I went to grad school. There, my brain got the workout and my body did not – and I didn’t make the effort to change that. So, the weight started creeping up. I come from hearty genetics that says I will survive famine, I think. Over time I’d get a piece of equipment for my house, or go on a diet, or whatever – and keep relatively stable. For a while at work there was a gym onsite and a friend and I helped each other keep our commitments to working out. But then I changed jobs and moved across the country. I love my where I work and what I do, but there is no gym on site and I am simply not wired to join a gym at this point. I won’t go. I know I won’t. I have had varying kinds of exercise equipment in my home, but for whatever reason they weren’t giving the results (and I *did* use them). Weight crept up.
And came perilously close to 200 pounds. That scared me. So I tried one of those packaged food diets. The food wasn’t great, but I found some things I did like and I stuck with it. I started to lose weight and I learned a lot about portion size (gosh, I was way over-eating some foods!). I also got into a stronger habit of drinking plenty of water, which definitely matters for me. Everyone is different, of course.
After many months, I had lost 36 pounds. That was Thanksgiving 2010. I felt great. By that time I had stopped with the pre-packaged plan and was maintaining on my own. Of course, it was the holidays. My weight started to creep up and by Thanksgiving 2011 I had gained back 10 pounds – but still, it wasn’t too bad. Of course, it was the holidays again…
By early summer 2012 I was close to having regained half of what I had lost, and I was also close to deciding to get the pre-packaged food again to get back on track. About this same time, my twitter-and-real-life friend @NomdeB introduced me to FitBit:
This is a nifty little tracker that is a pedometer and much much more. It syncs wirelessly to your computer to keep a log of your activity and can also help you track your sleep patterns (depending on the version you get; you wear it on a wrist strap for that). I got mine in early July 2012. Since then, I have been quite dedicated to making sure I hit 10000 steps a day – and in fact now I push for 5 miles a day, which for me is closer to 11000 steps. I get to work early so I can park several buildings away from my office. I schedule meetings in other people’s offices so I can walk to them. I find that this also helps me mentally break from whatever task I was working on before the meeting and focus on what’s ahead while I walk there. When I am home I use MapMyWalk (a free app on my phone) and walk around my neighborhood. That is all I am doing. I walk at least 5 miles a day, cumulatively but sometimes all at once. When I travel for work I usually spend my layovers in airports walking around the terminal instead of sitting at my gate. Walking is something I do 100% for me. It is a precious gift I am giving myself every single day.
End result so far? I’ve had a net loss of about 13 pounds and dropped my body fat percentage by about 4%. That translates into losing about 15 pounds of fat and gaining about 2 pounds of muscle. And I’ve done this with zero change in my eating habits. I am not tracking calories. I am not worrying about food. I don’t go nuts, but I don’t worry either. I am sure that if I did, I could have trimmed down faster – but this is a very sustainable life for me right now. [Note, @NomdeB also highly recommends an app called LoseIt which is a food tracker, and I’ve heard good things about it. I just don’t feel I need it. These things all depend on what motivates you – and the raw data about my activity levels is all I need.]
I don’t have a target weight – I am at a healthy weight now but it’s possible I will lose more. Since I’m not dieting I figure at some point I will stabilize based on my level of activity and how much I’m eating. I’m good with that. I’m healthy. And as for Thanksgiving 2012?
Tomorrow, I will be back where I was in 2010, except with a lower body fat percentage.
I feel great!