I am undertaking a 16 week challenge to change my diet and exercise habits so that I can make important changes in my life and health.
When is too fat too fat?
What is the point where the scales tip and the need for a deliberate change take place?
For me it was when I first topped 225 pounds. Or, at least, I thought it was.
Then again when I crossed the 240-pound threshold, then again when the scale’s dial crept past 250. Then again, then again, then again…
On January 1st, 2019, I stepped onto the scales and my holiday season of a binge-eating diet and no exercise displayed themselves. The digits climbed to 262.4 pounds. This was an all time-high for weight gain and an all-time low for health, self-esteem, and fitness. At the ripening age of 55 I fought my burgeoning waistline for 20 years in a slow-motion battle of attrition where I lost and weight gained. Along with graying hair and wilting muscle mass I also had the kinds of joint aches associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
A lifetime of struggle
Getting on the scales I was shocked at the increasing number and angry with myself for letting it continue. Sometimes I’d change my diet and try to exercise a little, but it never stuck. The struggle to lose weight got tougher and tougher.
Now, I’ve always been aware that my poor diet, lack of exercise, and state of mind impact me in multiple ways. I’m pre-diabetic. Now I need to test my blood glucose daily. I show symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Worst of all, I carry most of my excess weight in the worst way for a man of my age: layers of belly fat around my midsection.
It hurts to be severely overweight, and not just physically. I feel badly about myself and wonder if I will ever be able to do the things I want to. Or is this prison of body fat is going to shame me into staying in the background. Gaining more weight makes me feel like a loser who cannot do simple things like control my diet or get in a little exercise.
Now to diet and exercise
This year I choose to take real action to change my life. I am headed down a road towards Type 2 diabetes, crippling arthritis, mental depression, and heart/arterial disease. And it can be laid almost exclusively at the step of my diet, lack of exercise, and mental outlook. I choose to turn these trends around and repair the damage I’ve done to my one and only self before that scale tips too far for recovery.
With that in mind I’ve embarked on a lifestyle change that I believe will substantially improve my health and fitness. I’m spending 16 weeks on a weight loss regimen that will help me shed the layers of fat that make it difficult to climb stairs or bend down to pick up my daughter.
1. Changing the way I eat, permanently
I have a life-long love affair with food and a dangerous addiction to sugar. Working as a catering chef and I have nearly unlimited opportunities to snack rather than eat healthily and on a regular schedule.
To lose the weight I have packed on I must change the way I eat – radically. But to keep the weight off I’m going to have to change the way I eat – permanently.
For 16 weeks I’m eating in a way that breaks my bad food habits and sugar addiction while cutting my caloric intake significantly.
- Cut out all processed sugar, dairy, and “white” starches
- Reduce my consumption of animal meats
- Increase my consumption of vegetables, especially dark, leafy greens
- Drink more water
- Take in foods and spices that reduce inflammation
2. I will make exercise a daily commitment
The #1 goal of the next 16 weeks is weight loss, and I will exercise with that in mind. That means burning calories and raising my metabolism. But, I have to accept that initially my level of fitness is pretty poor. I need a dedicated and consistent workout routine to help me get fit so that I can use exercise to help me lose weight.
- Increase my strength and flexibility with a daily Sun Salutation routine
- Commit to a push up routine for 16 weeks that helps burn calories and build strength
- Perform a HIIT course workout program to improve my fitness level
3. I am changing my state of mind
I want to enlist the power of my mind in my weight loss battle. So many battles are fought and lost inside our own heads. I want my thoughts and attitudes to be allies in this task, not sabatours. I will use a daily meditation practice to help me in my weight loss goals.
- Meditate for 20 minutes a day, twice a day for 16 weeks so that I can take the first steps to a mindful practice.
- Write down a daily affirmation to support a positive mindset
- Recognize and acknowledge my bad habit triggers and find ways to avoid them
- Express gratitude every day
- Learn and appreciate which things are in my control and which are not, because it will help me make better choices
- Make a daily practice of forgiving myself for getting me into this condition
What this blog if for
I’m committing to this 16 week diet and lifestyle change not just for the immediate benefits I can gain, but for the long-term payoffs as well. Knowing it won’t be easy, and that my path is laced with self-inflicting landmines, I’m facing this challenge with both fear and anticipation. If I can make the losses and the gains I am aiming for over the next four months, then I look forward to even more exciting opportunities in the future.