In my opinion, to be a happy and productive writer, one must also be healthy. Despite my insatiable love of food (see yesterday’s blog post), I’ve always striven to be as healthy as a I can. In some regards, I do quite well. I eat almost no processed foods or beverages and I cook most of our food from raw, whole, organic products. In other areas, I miss the mark by a mile. My favorite foods are full of fat — cheese, butter, cream, cured meats. And then there’s the whole exercise side of the equation.
I hate to exercise, and when it comes to things I don’t enjoy I can be one big lazy fool. Motivation is a major issue and I’ll latch on to any excuse to avoid exercising. When I was younger, my metabolism was awesome and I could get away with this. Not so anymore. I’ve gained 10lbs in each of the last two years. While I might be starting with the advantage of being slim, that won’t be the case much longer. Extrapolate out 10lbs of weight gain a year for a few more years…a troubling and unhealthy trend by any measure.
So, regime change time. I have to start exercising and eating more moderately (let’s just say that little trip to France didn’t help matters).
Enter another problem: I am a woman of extremes. I’m always either boiling hot or freezing cold, starving to death or so full I’m gonna throw up, bursting with energy or so tired I JUST CAN’T GO ON. This little character flaw extends to every exercise and weight loss endeavor I’ve attempted. Usually I wake up one morning and announce I’m going to get fit and lose weight. I rush to the gym, totally overdo it for about a week, and starve myself on a calorie restriction diet. This results, as you might imagine, in injury or physical collapse. The outcome: I stop exercising.
Time to learn the art of moderation.
I resolve to exercise and eat moderately with the goal of gradually, rationally losing 10lbs by the end of the summer. Since I’m big on accountability (it’s the only way to avoid the “any excuse to stop” mentality), I’ll use a few tools to help me stay on track.
First, with regard to food, I’ll keep track of my calories on fitday.com. This site is free and provides a number of handy pages for counting calories, entering activity (calories burned), and tracking progress. It informs me I’ll need to keep my caloric intake under 1800 calories a day to meet my goal by August 31 (either through calorie restriction, calorie burning, or a combo).
Second, I’ll reinstate a tool that’s helped me in the past: Miranda’s Chart of Shame. This is a simple excel spreadsheet I worked up that displays each day of the week with the type and amount of exercise I should do that day. If I do it, I get to cross it off. If not, I have to write SHAME in bright, huge, block letters on the day in question. The chart is printed and displayed on the front door of the apartment, for me to look at every time I come and go. It’ll be there, JUDGING ME, every minute of every day. For the first month, I’m going to start gradually with 3 days a week of cardio, 1 of weightlifting, and 5 of stretching and exercises for my back (from an injury sustained the last time I tried to exercise regularly). After a month, I’ll reassess based on my progress.
Third, I’ll post my progress here on the blog — the good, the bad, and the ugly. At the end of each week, as part of a general weekly update, I’ll include whether I met my exercise and dieting goals for the week or not.
I’m hopeful this system will work. It is a good time of year to start adopting better habits, after all. Nicer weather makes it more enticing to go out and exercise, and all that colorful spring produce makes it easier to eat right. So, wish me luck, guys…and if you want to join in my crusade to get healthy, let me know!