One of my goals this year is to get back into shape - or some semblance thereof. So far, I am on the right track. I started keeping track of my calorie intake on the weekend and returned to the gym for the first time in close to a year on Monday morning and have been there every day since. I learned a few years ago that it is easier for me to go to the gym every day instead of every other day. It becomes part of my daily routine and harder to find excuses to avoid going. It has only been a few days back in this regime and I have already learned a few things.
It is not all about weight loss
I am a results guy. I like to see the impact of what I do and I like to be able to measure those results. I use the MyFitnessPal app to track my calorie intake and my exercises. I like it because it tells me how many calories I can consume in a day to meet my weight reduction target. I like being able to see how many I have left and the tips it gives me in terms of nutrient intake. I really like that I can enter my weight on a regular basis and track the results of my efforts.
We don't have a scale at home. I am not interested in being able to weigh myself on a regular basis, that would only add to my body image issues. I also don't want my daughters to being weighing themselves at this point in their young lives. I do however rely on the scale at the gym to weigh myself once a week when I am working on reducing my weight. When I got to the gym on Monday the scale was not in its usual place in the change room. I looked around for it. I haven't been for many months so I don't know how long it has been gone. I wanted to weigh myself to get my baseline measurement and know my actual starting point. I had made a guess to enter in the app, but I wanted an actual number. I felt disappointed that I couldn't make note of the starting line.
After my first day back at the gym I remembered that this isn't really about my actual weight. It is about feeling better and improving my health. For months I have been feeling creaky and progressively fatter. I was feeling demoralized about the direction my body was going in and not especially in control about what was happening. A few days in to this journey and the aches I feel now are the good muscle aches that come from making them stronger. I no longer feel especially self-conscious about my belly because I know it will shrink over the coming months and that I am back in control. I have been below my calorie limits almost every day so far and have changed my snacking habits. I am eating healthier food and making conscious decisions about what foods to avoid. One day this week I was on the road for work and had road food. While that food still put me over my limit - not by much - I thought longer about what to order to keep my numbers down. Fortunately I have been below my target every other days so I think I am probably still below target for the week so far. It also made it clear to me how I gained so much wait in the fall when I was travelling on an almost daily basis.
So now I am feeling better physically and mentally about my body because I know that I am on the right path again and will soon begin to see more significant results as I work the kinks out of my body and begin to burn off some of the accumulated fat.
Old Habits Die Hard
It has been quite a while (ok maybe a year) since I have been to the gym for more than one day in a week. I think I went once in 2015 and was having knee problems at the time that I made worse by going to the gym. I've been focusing on other priorities in my life and didn't have time or motivation to get up a little earlier in the morning and go to the gym or look after my health really. So when I decided it was time to put some focus back on me and my body I thought it would be hard work.
It turns out that habits are hard to break and easy to step back into when it is time. Actually it wasn't that hard to stop going to the gym and monitoring my food intake. It also has not been difficult to get back into going to the gym on a daily basis and tracking my calories. I am still working on fine-tuning and remembering the routine that allows me to get to the gym, exercise for 30 -40 minutes, get home, shower, feed and dress myself before I get the girls up for school and get them fed and out the door for school on time. That will be sorted out with another week of this routine. I did miss one day this week because I set my clock incorrectly after a power outage here. It turns off my alarm won't go off in the morning if the time says it is the afternoon. That is a big reason for why I go to the gym every day. If I miss one by accident, due to work travel or because I have a kid screaming in the night and I am just too tired to get up and function, it isn't hard to go back the next day.
When I was going to the gym every other weekday I found it too difficult to keep track of whether I was supposed to be going to the gym the next day or not and it was harder for my brain to adapt to the changing routine. I also found it difficult to go back to the gym if I missed a day because if I missed a Friday it meant that I would have been at the gym on Wednesday and not going back until Monday. That was often too big a gap for my willpower to manage. So now I am back into my daily routine and it is working. It feels comfortable, well except for the sore muscles every day, otherwise it is nice and cozy. It just isn't quite as cozy as it would be staying in bed.
5:30 is a Tough Time of Day
I started out the week getting up at 5:30 am to go tot he gym. In the first couple of days I realized that wasn't enough time, so now I get up at 5:20, which gives me 15 minutes or so to go to the bathroom and wake myself up enough to drive to the gym. I'm not gonna lie, 5:30 in the morning is not my favourite time of day. I could be doing all kinds of other things at that time of day, like sleeping or lying in bed with my eyes closed or resting, anything really. Instead I climb stairs and run and stretch and lift heavy things.
The upside is in spite of getting up an hour earlier, I feel more energized and relaxed wrangling the girls through the school morning routine and when I get to work. Of course it starts to be difficult to lift myself out of my desk chair by around 10:30 as my muscles seize up, but it is otherwise great. Knowing that I am getting up at 5:30 has had the added benefit of reminding me not to sit around surfing the web until too late at night. I am gradually going to bed earlier and I think with another week of this I should be making it into bed before 11 every night, which is pretty good for me.
All-in-all it has been a good week and far less challenging than I expected to get back into focussing on my health. Next week will get harder as I start actually pushing myself at the gym instead of just trying to loosen up my creaky muscles and joints without injuring myself.