Note: This post is Part 4 of a 6 Part Series on how I lost 60 pounds. You can find a list of all of the posts in this series here. Or, if you want the whole kit and caboodle in one mammoth post, you can click here. (Update as of April 17, 2017: I’ve now lost 70 pounds and am no longer trying to lose weight, just trying to get fitter and stronger).
This has been an amazing journey. The amazing part of losing 60 pounds ins’t so much how I feel or how I feel about how I look. It’s realizing for the first time in my life that I have control of my body. It’s amazing. Losing 60 pounds isn’t an accomplishment easily achieved. That’s why Part 1 of this series was about getting your mind into this and being totally committed. Part 2 was the foundation for my diet, the Slow Carb Diet prescribed by Tim Ferriss in his book 4-Hour Body. Part 3 was about the tweaks I made to the Slow Carb Diet to make it my own.
In this post I want to talk about goals and how you can use goal setting to help you achieve your overall fitness goals. Because when you weigh 290+ pounds like I did, and you want to weigh 230, 230 is a loooong way off.
Have different types of goals….
One thing that helped sustain me throughout this process was that I had lots of different types of goals. My goal wasn’t just to lose X number of pounds. Here are some other things I’ve had in mind, goals I’ve set, or measurements I’ve looked at:
- Belt loop. I’m on the last (smallest) loop on a belt that I literally could not wear when I started this process. Each time I’d go down a belt loop was like a celebration.
- Touch my toes. Couldn’t touch my toes when I started out. I wanted to lose weight, but remember, the goal was not simply to lose weight. Goal was/is “phenomenal shape.” Being flexible and being able to touch my toes is, I am pretty sure, included in that. So everyday I’d stretch and try to touch my toes and see myself getting closer and closer. Finally, I could touch my toes. Then it became about holding my toes. Holding them longer, etc.
- Pants size. I’d go into a store and try on a pair of Levi’s to see how close I was to going down another size.
- Clothes I used to not be able to wear. My wife got me this shirt a few years ago that I never wore because it was too small. I actually loved the shirt and kept it thinking, “someday.” Now I wear the shirt all the time. I have a suit that I love that I haven’t worn in years. I was excited to get back into that suit, and to now have to take it in because it’s too small!
- The After Shower Towel. I used to not be able to tie a towel around myself after a shower. Now, I can put on some music and dance around the house in my towel. Tickets not available. 😉
My performance in outdoor activities was a motivating factor for me to get back into shape. Let me bring this even closer to home. I wanted to run around with my kids. I noticed myself getting winded and running out of energy very quickly when we were playing together. I wanted to have more energy for playing with my kids. Eventually, over a lifetime of healthy living, I want to age better and be a better grandparent. I want to generally be healthier. Better numbers with blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, etc.
With any goals, it’s good to have short-term and long-term goals. Having good, numbers on my blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar so that I can age well and be a better grandparent is a far-off goal. The goal is so far off that it’s hard to be motivated to do anything about it right now. So it’s good to keep that long-term goal in mind now while working on short term goals, like getting into that suit I haven’t worn in years.
The more I exercise the more I can eat….
I actually LOVE food. Sometimes I say the best part of a big bike ride is the beer at the end. If I want to go out for pizza, I go on a run. If I pig out and have a big meal, a few hours later I’ll go on a run.
I didn’t want to lose weight just to look better. I wanted to ski better and ride my bike further and faster.
Physical Goals have been a big part of helping me reach my weight loss and fitness goals. I love both cycling and skiing. I’m living in Santa Barbara now, instead of the mountains, so I am cycling more and skiing less.
Last winter I noticed myself getting winded a lot while I was skiing. If I was in powder, I’d have to stop every few minutes. I held back a lot and was hesitant to go into certain terrain. My first day on the mountain this year I totally went for it! On my first day of the season I was skiing better than I was on the last day of last season. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by this; I weighed 50 pounds less than I did at the end of last season!
I have a few regular routes I ride on my bike. I love a long Saturday ride where I’m on my bike for three or four hours and covering 30 or 40 or 50 miles. But I wanted to add in a ride I could do in an hour so I set up a challenge for myself. There’s a ride I can do up an old mountain pass near where we live in Santa Barbara. I set a goal to do the whole ride in an hour. To leave my house, get to the road where the climbing commences, get all the way to the top (about a 1,000 foot climb) and get back home — all within an hour. I haven’t done it yet, but I am getting closer.
I’ve also used big physical quests to help me cross thresholds with my weight loss. I was having a hard time getting from -35 to -40. So I went on a three day hike on the Appalachian Trail and that got me to -40. I went on a two day bike ride covering about 140 miles from San Luis Obispo to Monterey. That helped me get from -40 to -45.
In May I am planning to ride my bike 500 miles from Stockholm, Sweden to Copenhagen, Denmark. It’s good to have that goal in mind for a few months down the road. I have to stay in shape if I am going to do that ride. May also marks one-year since I really began this quest in earnest — that morning laying in bed when I realized I had no excuse. Right now I am running 2-5 miles at least 4 or 5 times a week because I am getting ready to run a half-marathon. I added a trail run that’s 5 miles long, the first two and a half miles up 1,000 feet in elevation, and then two and a half miles back down. Former presidential candidate Gary Johnson has an impressive athletic resume and has climbed the tallest mountain on every continent in the world. He says his goal is that he constantly maintains physical conditioning to the point that he could, theoretically, climb a mountain tomorrow.
By the way, in a previous post I talked about all the mashed potatoes and gravy I ate on Thanksgiving Day, but I should add that I started that day by running 11 miles.
Sometimes it’s easier to ride 20 miles than to eat nothing….
I really like food! This past Sunday it was easier for me to ride 30 miles on my bike so I could eat whatever I wanted the rest of the day than it was for me to sit at home and keep myself from eating. Hey, I also love riding my bike, skiing, running, and being active. I hate starving myself. So if I am able to spend time being really physically active so that I can be lax with what I eat later, that’s two really great things. If I am sitting at home and doing nothing and starving myself, that’s two bad things. I’ll take two good things over two bad things.
5 and 10 pounds at a time…
I started out this journey at 290 pounds. That’s the official number I’ve always used. (So, when I say I’ve lost 60 pounds, that means I weigh 230). In truth, I was 295. But with my little adjustment I can always, even if I am up 2 or 3 pounds, I can honestly say I am down X much. So if I weigh in today at 270, I can start telling people I’ve lost 20 pounds. If I go back up to 272 tomorrow, I don’t have to start telling people I’ve lost 18 pounds.
So my first threshold was 280. Once I got to 280 you know what I really wanted to do? Get to 279. And once I got to 279, I never wanted to see 280 again. Never. So when I would get to 279, or 269, or 259…. When I would get to that point, I would go hard-core. I’d be extremely meticulous about what I was eating and I would really go at it in my work-outs. I wanted to get down to 275, or 265, or 255. Once I would get to that point, I’d feel like I was safely in the 70’s, 60’s, or 50’s. I could put on a few pounds, even if it was just two pounds of water weight, and not go back up to the next set of 10.
Once I got to XX5, I would relax for a while. I got good at maintaining my weight over the past eight months. I could go for a few weeks at a time without being “hard-core” and maintain my weight at 2X4, 2X5, 2X6. Then, I’d make a push to get down to the next threshold, to cross over to 249 and 239.
I don’t always have time for long, extended workouts. When I don’t, I have to fall back on what I have learned about diet and exercise.
That’s what I want to talk about in the next post. Go-To Foods. But, I do also want to point out that you don’t need to have time to go on a 5 hour bike ride in order to be physically fit. Shorter, high intensity workouts can have an even greater effect. I enjoy long workouts, but I really do need to challenge myself by pushing myself to more regularly do shorter, more intense workouts. That’s something I need to do if I am going to move to the “next level.”
Now, we move onto Part 5: Go-To Foods, Vitamins, Supplements, Essential Oils