- 35 lbs. lost in 12 months flat (between my two birthdays).
- Height: 5’8, Weight: 135 lbs., Waist: 29 inches, Body Fat: 6.8%.
“Why” is more important than “How”
Why is “Why” important? Because, it’s the Inspiration. Motivation is expensive, since it takes constant energy, and almost daily prepping up. Inspiration is cheap 😉 Needs to be done only once.
For me, the “Why” was Longevity. And the gratification after getting in shape is just fantastic!
On the eve of my birthday (a few months after I had adopted and trained my dog), I was sitting upstairs in my bedroom thinking what would be one positive change about myself before my next birthday. As I looked at myself in the sliding door mirror, I decided that I wanted a flat belly before my next birthday. That’s how it started. Note that my goal wasn’t to lose 35 lbs. I didn’t even know how much I needed to lose. I didn’t drink in excess or smoke, but had the “usual” beer belly.
Even though I didn’t have my “How” figured out, I decided not to take any short cuts and “enjoy” this journey. I’ve no plans of repeating it again 😊
I’ve been a term member of my gym for many years, but I prefer the outdoors way more than the machines. So I decided to:
- Focus mostly on natural movements, though I did try various new classes in my gym a few times, and also took some personal training sessions.
- Do low-impact and low-to-moderate intensity workouts, with the goal of building endurance. There were some exceptions. For instance, jogging 15 miles in a day (with my dog) wouldn’t be considered “low” intensity, but if the speed is slow (15 minutes or more per mile), then the impact is moderate.
What to Ignore
People. Most of them. Why? Would you take advice on business success from someone who has never been successful in business? It’s the same when it comes to weight loss. More than two-thirds of U.S. adults are either overweight or obese. Being humans, we look for “similarity”. Most of my friends and colleagues kept commenting that I didn’t need to lose any weight in the first place. They think chubby is cute, but I feel lean and strong is sexy.
It’s an open secret: workout and diet. I’ll cover the workouts in this blog post (hence, Phase I) and diet in the next one (Phase II).
I tried different cardio activities – jogging, swimming and cycling, and also, some cardio classes at my gym. Swimming produced the best results for me. It was a full body workout with low impact. It ended up becoming my favorite. On many days during the initial months, I jogged two miles, swam two miles and did cycling for twenty miles. Yes, all in one day. Towards the last few months, I eased into a more “normal” routine…here’s a snapshot of my workout log towards the last five months:
- (Indoor) Swimming: My normal would be a mile at least a few days a week. For the initial months, I regularly did two miles a few days a week. Towards the very end of twelve months, I increased it again to two miles few days a week, and on one weekend, I did three miles swimming each day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It was a way of testing my endurance. Very draining, but thankfully, I took good rest due to the weekend.
- (Outdoor) Cycling: Started with cycling around the neighborhood. Increased it slowly to an average of ten miles few days a week. The longest I went was 50 miles in a day. Went from my home in Danville till Canyon (unincorporated community bordering Oakland and Moraga), and back. Coffee in Walnut Creek downtown tasted good during the break. One day, I’d like to cycle from home to San Francisco and back, and enjoy some good food and drinks en route.
- (Outdoor) Jogging: Again, started with light jogging on flat paths and trails around home, and at times, did jogging over some hills in the neighborhood, one of which has a 930 feet elevation. During one of the long weekends, I jogged over thirty miles with my dog.
- Yard Work: Unhappily, I let go of my gardener, and started doing basic yard work. Had never done this before in my life. Dug out the front yard and replaced the grass with drought-resistant plants, and planted some fruit trees in the back yard. All tools were manual, including the lawn mower. Let’s see how long can I resist buying a leaf blower. So far, the rakes have done a pretty decent job for me.
- (Outdoor) Climbing: One day during my usual dog walk around the neighborhood, I noticed a kid climbing a tree. I thought this is such a natural thing for kids, why can’t we do it? I climbed a few trees off and on in my neighborhood. It’s the real deal versus doing pull-ups from a perfectly round-shaped bar in the gym. So much fun.
- Other Workouts: My gym was introducing a whole bunch of high-intensity workouts for strength, cardio and agility. I did try most of them. It seemed artificial to me, plus, I like being outdoors more. After a few classes, I stopped it. Even tried Pilates and some Yoga. I figured most of this can be replicated in natural movements. If natural movements interest you, have a look at MovNat and spend some time researching Blue Zones.
- Just for fun and to build acclimatization to cold, I did a few laps in an outdoor swimming pool in the months of December and January. Cold goes straight to the bone. Fortunately, a hot tub was right next to it.
- The only thing that I felt not so good about is the loss of my wardrobe. Pretty much everything didn’t fit. It’s expensive, not just in terms of money, but the time it takes to build a new wardrobe.
What really worked
- Knowing the “Why”
- Obsession / Focus: This means no multi-tasking, i.e., ideally, not having any other goal for the year, so all the energy can go into achieving that ONE goal.
- Qualitative Goal: Having a “flat belly” was my goal, and not losing 35 lbs. Nothing wrong with having quantitative goals, but qualitative is good, too. It gives you something to aspire for versus chasing a number, which can get boring. When I started working out, I thought that 20 lbs. would be good enough, but I was wrong. After I lost 20 lbs., it seemed losing another 10 lbs. would do the job. Wrong again.
- Accepting Failure and Imperfection: No need for Seinfeld chain, at least initially. But at some point, for this to sustain, it needs to be a habit.
- Doing it your Way! For me, it was (predominantly) swimming. But, avoid stupidity. Hence, my decision to focus on low-impact, low to moderate intensity workouts. Two of my favorite sports used to be squash and badminton (former state-level doubles player). Earlier, I loved the intensity and agility in these sports. Guess what? Have pretty much given these up. Don’t want to twist my knee!
- Companionship: Having an active dog, like a Jack Russell Terrier helped. I’m so grateful he’s part of my life.
As Steve Jobs said: “What is the world’s most expensive bed? The hospital bed. You, if you have money, you can hire someone to drive your car, but you cannot hire someone to take your illness that is killing you.”
Enjoy healthy living!