Being a writer and a Creative Director is a somewhat sedentary lifestyle, fraught with overlap. M'bellly overlappin' m'belt, mostly. So, like the rest of the Western World, as of 1 January I started doing things that I hoped would help me trim up. Not unusual, and not my first time. But this go, I decided to skip the "resolutions," and instead make a commitment to changing my actual lifestyle. Instead of dieting, I set up a system that lets me eat what I want and still knock off the pounds. No willpower required. Here's what I've put together —
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For the past three weeks I've gotten up nearly every day to exercise. I play "beat the week." The rules are, if I can get up and exercise at least four days out of the week, I beat the week. If I don't, the week beat me. So far, for three weeks running, I have kicked the week's butt.
Along with the exercising, I've started tracking what I eat and keeping my calorie count down. Really it's about eating better. More veggies, less processed sugar, that sort of thing. And that's going well, too. I've had a slip or two, but nothing I couldn't recover from.
And the weight is coming off. But there's where things get screwy.
OK, here are the numbers, and I know how bad they can seem, so cut me some slack for my honesty, OK? But when I started this, I weighed in at 278.
Yeesh. Just looking at that makes me want to throw up. But the good news is that in a very short time I've managed to drop into the 260s. Yesterday I weighed in at a svelte 266 even. I was pretty happy with that. Not only had I cracked the 10 pound barrier, I'd beaten it by two whole pounds!
That was good enough motivation for me to get my butt out bed again this morning and beat the week, good and proper. I went and did my thing, and felt strong doing it. Where I had suffered all week to "get back into the groove" after the holiday weekend, this morning I was more energetic, more spry, more fit. And after my workout, just as I have done every day for the past three weeks, I stepped on the scale.
I saw the 268 pop up, and I was devastated.
More than devastated, I was furious! Two pounds! I had gained two pounds in just 24 hours? What's the deal here? Who's pulling something? Who do I beat up?
And then, in the last second, just as my weight was "finalized," an extra .2 popped up to give me an extra bit of kick to the groin.
I gained 2 pounds and 2 ounces in 24 hours.
I know, I know ... it isn't unusual. It depends on what you've eaten, whether or not you're retaining water, maybe the pull of the moon—all kinds of crazy factors. Still, I could have lived with the fluctuating 2 pounds. I get it. But it's that extra .2 that really wasn't called for.
I'll keep it up, and this will happen maybe 20 times more over the next copule of months. But whatever—I'm doing this and it's making me feel much better. Sooner or later the serious poundage will start falling off, and that will make it all worth it.
And that .2, my old enemy, will rue the day it crossed me.
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Sometimes you have to stop saying "someday" and actually get off your keester and do the thing you want to do. I've recently had a couple of "somedays" become "todays," when I finally got tired enough of getting nowhere to actually step up and take action.
The first Someday got its walking papers about 30 days ago. I went to the doctor for a checkup, the same doctor who was the first and only one to spot my bradycardia a year ago, and was told that my blood pressure was too high.
"It's always high when I come to the doctor," I said. "White coat syndrome."
"It's been consistently high too many times in a row. It's time to get it under control."
What could I say? She saved my life once. Was it inconceivable that she would do it again?
So, starting that day, I had to go on blood pressure meds. This was a wakeup call.
My grandparents had been on this stuff. And though they were far from disabled or incapable of having a life, I did see the abject misery and discomfort and unhappiness that being overweight brought them. And for years, it's brought the same to me. Being overweight is like being in prison. Once you're there for so long, you tend to forget what freedom is like. You become "institutionalized." You stop trying to dig your way out (unless the exit happens to be at the bottom of a big bowl of mashed potatoes).
For the past ten years or so I have been hideously overweight, and I knew it. I could blame it on my heart, and I'd probably be right. But what was my excuse now that I had the pacemaker? What reason or justification did I have, now that my heart worked properly and I was all healed up from the surgery?
It was time to face facts. Eating fried chicken three meals a day, drinking gallons of sweetened something-or-other, eating piles upon piles of candy bars and fries and cookies and whatever else I could cram into my gullet and refer to as "food"-- it all had to stop. It was ridiculous, what I'd been doing to myself. I was wasting my second chance, among other stupidities.
So, as of the day I started the blood pressure meds I started changing my lifestyle. I changed what I eat, going for lots of fruits and vegetables, cutting out all fried foods, cutting out sugar and salt, limiting my calorie intake each day. And I changed my level of exercise, going for three-mile walks each day, doing resistance training (starting to -- working on consistency with that), taking the stairs more, even jogging a little. I started keeping a food journal, to help keep me honest. And I started learning everything I could about creating a clean diet and lifestyle. I don't smoke, and I don't drink, so that wasn't an issue. But food was. And now it's not.
For thirty days I have done this, and I have lost nearly a pound a day since it started.
Yeah -- it's true. I started at 278 (stop gasping!), and as of yesterday morning I weighed 250. I look trimmer and I feel better. And like everyone else who finally says "enough is enough" and changes their lifestyle, I'm wondering, "Why the hell didn't I do this sooner?" [NOTE: I foolishly wrote these weights as "178" and "150" the first time around. Thanks to my sister-in-law, Heather, I now feel much heavier, and am far less impressive. But also, I appreciate her pointing out the goof.]
Easy? Sort of. Not "difficult" anyway. I eat like a king, actually. Any worries about being deprived of food are just ridiculous. I just choose better food.
So that's one Someday I changed this month. The other was YouTube.
For months I have considered starting a vlog. Actually, it was more like years. I have thought about it since vloggers started appearing online. I have even filmed a few "episodes" from time to time, but never posted them, because they never felt "right." But a few days ago I decided I'd had enough. If I really wanted to have a presence on YouTube, I would just have to do it. And do it now.
So I started vlogging. Just like that. I got my iPhone rolling and just spewed a lot of randomness onto YouTube.
Is it clean and polished? No. I could produce something better. I could write sketches, do some editing, use my really expensive equipment and lights. But the problem is, I've had that stuff all of this time, and I've plotted and planned and prepared all this time, and yet I have never actually followed through.
So, I used my iPhone.
Now I've started. And that s all it takes. Will I do more polished videos later? Sure. I think so. I mean, why wouldn't I? Will I still do these iPhone videos? Yeah. I think so. I mean, why wouldn't I?
The point, really, is to start something, and to build momentum. If I do this often, then I have momentum. There's no reason I can't improve what I'm doing. Or, if people seem to like it (and many seem to, so far) then why change it? I can throw in some polished pieces from time to time and just do it for the fun of it. I can put up anything I want, after all. It's my channel.
If there's a point to be taken from this, I'd say it is this: Start now.
I have a lot of Somedays, and you probably do, too. But what makes them "somedays?" Why are they even there? What's the point? A someday is always going to be imaginary. Today is real. So if you're holding back on something you want to do "someday," just do it. It really is that easy. If you fail, you fail. But you won't fail. You'll succeed in starting, and that's usually all it takes.
Check out my new YouTube videos in this playlist: http://bit.ly/eM27TB
Here's one to get you started! Enjoy: