On the subject of health and diet …

So I haven’t mentioned health and diet in the last few weeks because frankly, I haven’t really cared. I was taking some medication that kept me from losing weight, and all that did was discourage me. I was working myself into the ground, tracking food and exercising, and seeing no results. I stopped obsessing about it, and fortunately for me, I didn’t gain any real weight (I’ve fluctuated four pounds up and down but no permanent gain). Now I need to get serious again. Ugh.

The plan is simple … I don’t want to get to the same level of obsession because it was driving me nuts, so I’m going to, on Sunday every week, portion out lunch and breakfast, and have it ready to eat whether I’m at home or at the office. Dinner I am just going to manage portion sizes. Cut back on sweets and such between meals, and try to get in some form of exercise at least three times a week; four is better.

My only concern is the exercise bit. I really need to exercise to lose weight but my knee has been giving me hell lately, so strenuous work outs aren’t going to happen any time soon. In fact, even walking can be quite painful, so I might need to turn to the pool and the bike to get me through this period. My knee has given me trouble off and on for the last 25-ish years, so I’m sure I can work through it, but I don’t want to exacerbate whatever’s wrong with it, so I need to be cognizant of my limitations. This also means that many leg exercises might need to be modified or otherwise abandoned for the time being. I don’t think the problem is serious, though, and that with time, there should be less trouble with it.

My main reason for posting this is so that I once again I am publicly accountable for this aspect of my life. If I think people might have an interest, or if someone may ask about it, I feel like maybe I’ll stick to the plan more and post about it. It may become a regular Monday feature; we’ll see.

The one sure thing is this – if I’m not at least somewhat focused on losing weight, I won’t ever do it. I am encouraged that I was able to maintain within four pounds the weight I hit back in April before I started having trouble. If I can maintain like that once I lose the weight for good, I should be fine. And plateaus, starts and stops, are all inevitable when trying to lose weight – I mean, the holidays aren’t THAT far away, and I know that I will indulge then. If I can at least maintain my weight during those times, I will be happy.

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There are two primary choices in life …

To accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them. ~Dr. Denis Waitley

We have become a nation of the “status quo” … in other words, we may complain about the things we don’t like – our political system, the homeless problem, the economy, our ever expanding waistlines – but most people don’t take responsibility for changing the things that they don’t like. I know that there are many people who think that they can make no impact to many of these situations, as they are “only one person.” But I think that people lose sight, myself included, of the fact that they absolutely have the ability to change themselves. Or maybe it’s that we don’t like to take responsibility for making changes, or that we’re unwilling to commit ourselves to making changes. Of course, you must know that I’m talking about weight loss and fitness.

I’ve heard people say that getting started is the most difficult part, but I disagree. I think starting is easy – I’ve started to make life-altering health changes 894,732 times. No, the most difficult part is sticking with the program you choose, and not letting yourself buy into the negative self-talk (as well as the negativity from others around you). And when you don’t see results immediately, it’s really easy to start taking on the “bro-science” advice on the internet – you know, all those meatheads out there who are more than willing to tell you what you’re doing wrong and how you can “fix” it. It isn’t that everybody is special and needs their own plan to make progress, but there really is not a one size fits all way to lose weight. The only constant is that the calories you burn must exceed the calories you take into your body. Beyond that, there are many ways to lose weight, exercise, and reach your fitness goals.

As of this morning, I am officially down 20 pounds from my original starting weight. But it took me far longer to get here than it strictly should have, because I lost sight of what I was doing, and the reasons why I was doing them. If I had stayed the course back in February when I went to the UK, I could possibly be 30 or even 40 pounds down from my original starting weight. For some people a simple calorie restriction is the key to weight loss. Personally, I have to have at least four days a week of moderate exercise – five is even better. I joined the gym eight days ago and I’ve been four times – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday (I took Thursday and Friday off because I could barely move after my personal training foray on Tuesday). I’ve kept an eye on the calories I’ve eaten and dropped four pounds in that time. I probably had a little help from a water pill the doctor prescribed for me during my physical on Thursday, but a lot of the loss is from the changes I’m making to my lifestyle.

I know a lot of people think that in order to lose weight, they need to seriously restrict their calorie intake but for me that’s not true. In fact, I eat a fairly good deal of calories (around 2200-2300 on days I work out; about 1950 on days I don’t), keeping my body fueled so that I can continue to do the work outs without crashing. No 1200 calorie days here! I really don’t know how people manage on that small an amount, and it absolutely kills me to see folks on the fitness boards who claim they can’t possibly eat 1200 calories  a day because it’s just too much and they aren’t hungry! /whine whine whimper whimper  I’m sorry but I call BS because it’s highly unlikely they gained 40, 50, 60 or 100+ pounds by eating 900 calories a day for an extended period. In order to keep the body going, you have to fuel it. Do you expect to drive 500 miles on a quarter of a tank of gas? No? Then why do you expect to work out, run a home, raise a family, and work on 900 calories a day??

I know that for some people with medical issues, it isn’t quite this easy, but I think that the number of legitimate medical issues that prevent weight loss are probably pretty small. I would be willing to bet that the biggest issue is that people aren’t honest with themselves. I know I wasn’t, because I was probably drinking half my calories in the form of Dr Pepper. Once I kicked the regular soda habit, the weight started coming off, and I wasn’t really hungry anymore because I could eat a pretty good amount of food. It was during the time that I wasn’t controlling my soda intake that I gained most of my weight, and it was during that time that I was at my most resistant to change. Once I dropped 150 calorie a can drinks, I saw that I could actually lose weight. I do still drink diet sodas, which have issues of their own, and I am working to drink fewer of them, but the reality is, without the empty calories, losing weight is easier, and I’m able to maintain a course of action.

So, now it’s time to ask yourself – what choice are you going to make? The one that will bring change to your life, where ever you need it, be that weight loss, difficult relationships, financial, etc? Or the one that will maintain the status quo, where you are never really happy but loathe to do something about it? I know which one I choose …

The Dreaded Annual Physical

This week, I had my annual physical. I use a physician’s assistant (PA) in the doctor’s office, and I really like her, even though  I am not a fan of doctors, simply because it’s rare that I see one that doesn’t want to give me a shot of one type or another, and this time is no different. But more about that in a little bit. The primary take away from my physical this year is that I have to get serious about making sustainable lifestyle changes.

All in all, my physical results really aren’t that bad. Obviously, I need to lose weight. My blood pressure is a little high. My cholesterol is a little high. My B12 levels are very low. The theme for my physical was, Lose weight. Exercise. Rinse and repeat. And above all, be more aware of what is going on with my body, because I have this very bad habit of sort of ignoring warning signs.

First off, my blood pressure. They took it three times while I was in the office. The first time it was like 137/95; the second it was 142/95 and the last time it was 121/90. Clearly, it’s too high for comfort. The PA put me on a water pill, and I was ordered to start taking my blood pressure at home, so I went to Walmart and bought a blood pressure machine. My mom keeps saying, Those aren’t accurate, but this one seems pretty darn accurate to me. It’s running right in line with what the physical readings were, and the PA said it would be fine to use. I don’t know how to take my own blood pressure the “old fashioned way”, but this is working, and I’ll stick with it until I know it doesn’t. I’ve decided to take my BP first thing in the morning and then in the evening before dinner. I don’t know why; it just seems like these would be good times to take it. I’m using an Android app to keep track of the readings, and it’s pretty cool. It makes charts of your readings so you can track how your BP is trending, and you can take it to the doctor to show them how you’re doing.

Next up is the cholesterol. My HDL is high, my LDL is low. This isn’t anything new to me, but I was hoping for better results this year. I’ve started eating fish more often, and we don’t eat a lot of fried foods. We’ve agreed to cut red meat down to once or twice a week, and I’ve read conflicting reports about whether or not pork is better or about the same as beef, but we have agreed to limit it to once a week as well. The other days will be lean chicken  and fish. Last night, the guy at the seafood counter told us that tilapia has absolutely zero nutritional value, so I need to check that out, because that’s the fish we eat most often, and maybe that’s why I didn’t see a change in my LDL levels. It’s disappointing because tilapia is cheap, it’s tasty and it’s readily available in our area. But salmon is also available and it’s not terribly expensive, so I guess it’s going to become our new favorite. According to the guy we spoke with last night,  cod is better for you than tilapia, and it is cheap but I’m not as fond of the flavor. But I guess I could eat it once a week. It does make excellent fish tacos.

Finally the B12. I have been wiped out lately, and just barely able to stay awake most days. I have zero energy and I hate it, because there is often something I want to do but just can’t drag myself out of a chair to do it. The lowest end of normal for B12 is like 232 and I’m at 234. The PA wants me to get monthly B12 shots (see, I told you they always find a reason to give me a shot and you didn’t believe me, did you) as well as take 1000 mg of B12 in pill form every day. But hey, if it fixes the fatigue issue I am all for it. Ok maybe not ALL for it – I mean, come on, I HATE needles – but I’d rather get a shot once a month than feel like I can’t walk up the stairs.

And of course, I got the usual lecture about losing weight and exercising more that so many people hear at their annual physical. However, I don’t buy into the type of diet that this PA was advocating – low carb, low fat, no breads, pastas, vegetable oils, sweets, sodas, fruits (!!) blah blah blah, yada yada yada. And no, I don’t think she knows more about nutrition than I do because that was clear when she told me that the reason why I don’t feel full on Weight Watchers is because I need to stop eating fruit. Ummm … yeah. Or it could be because on WW, I was eating less than 1300 calories a day, and that just does not work for me. But what do I know; it’s only MY body.

I have to go back to get my blood checked again in three months. I’m sure they are going to check cholesterol as well as the B12 deficiency, so I want to try to make some positive progress with getting the HDL down and the LDL up.

So here’s the plan

I joined a gym last week. I want to make it a point to exercise at least four days a week, but I will shoot for six. I am going to mix in cardio and strength training, but every day I will need to do at least a little cardio because I’m taking part in a million step challenge – I need to take a million steps between April 1 and December 1, and I’m not going to be able to meet that goal is I don’t spend a little time on a treadmill most days of the week. Strength training for a multitude of reasons – to make myself stronger, obviously, but also to lose weight, tighten skin and in general make myself look better. I also have a bum shoulder that was operated on in November 2009, and I have lost almost all the strength there, so I need to work on that as well.

I will do monthly updates on inches lost, weight lost, and general progress, holding me accountable for the lifestyle change I must make.

My Three Month Goals

Cholesterol under 200 (it’s 205, so it’s not like it’s way out of reach)

Ten pounds lost

Blood pressure dropped by at least a couple points for both systolic and diastolic

End of Year Goals

50 pounds lost

Blood pressure to a normal level

Cholesterol under 190

I am certain I can do this. I just need to focus on what I’m doing, and keep track of what’s going on. It’s going to be a wild ride, but it’s going to pay off in a very big way. Now, who’s in??

It’s fine to celebrate success …

but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure. – Bill Gates

Before I went on my trip to London in February, I had made several changes to my eating habits and I was really flying high. “This isn’t so hard,” I told myself (and anyone who would listen). “I can do this, no problem!” And then the dreaded business travel came up and … I fell off the wagon. Big time, I fell off the wagon. It was so easy, I didn’t even realize I had fallen off.

I’m not a big fan of most of the food in London, so not over-eating there is easy enough for me. It’s when I got back from London, after not having logged any food for a week, that things got really difficult. I’d already fallen out of the habit of weighing and measuring everything in those seven short days, and when I got back to the States, it was like I gave myself a license to eat whatever, whenever, however I wanted. And now, eight weeks later, I’ve gained three pounds. I guess it could be LOTS worse than that, since I’ve heard of folks gaining that much in a week of unfettered eating, so don’t think I’m complaining about that, because really … I’m not.

What I AM doing here, is making myself accountable for the failure of the last eight weeks. This doesn’t mean that my entire program is a failure; what it means is, I need to get better about regulating what I eat even when I’m not at home, and even if it’s difficult to make the healthiest choices, I need to log them, even if I’m estimating how much of the food I’m actually eating. On the one hand, this may seem a little misleading, but for me, it’s more important to maintain those healthy habits of logging my food and exercise all the time, no matter what. This is an eye-opening lesson I have learned from the last several weeks, and one I need to embrace.

The second lesson of failure I need to embrace is that I MUST measure every single food item I eat, no matter whether I want to or not. Measuring my food out makes me accountable and opens my eyes to how much I’m eating, all the time.

The final lesson of failure I’m taking away from this experience is this – failure is not final. It’s not the end, nor is it the worst thing I could have done in the last seven weeks. Failure is just another opportunity to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try a different approach. That is perhaps the most important lesson of all for me. Even though I strayed for so many weeks, even though I sort of lost sight of my goals, and even though I don’t really have the enthusiasm to get back on the wagon, I’m going to do it anyway. Because as much as I don’t want to go back to being so regimented (it is totally outside of my nature to be regimented in any way), I know it’s the only way I’m going to be ultimately successful in the battle of the bulge.

So, where do I go from here? Well, a good start is to go back to myfitnesspal.com and start logging all of my food, good choices and bad, again. I’m not going to necessarily focus on what I’m eating nearly so much as just getting it written down every day. Then, when I have established that habit again, I will start to make better choices in what I eat. And then, I will start to exercise more frequently.

A word about the exercise thing – I’ve been really run down the last week, in large part because my body is fighting off an infection, and I just haven’t felt like doing much of anything. But hopefully, the antibiotics will take care of it and by the beginning of next week I should be back at full strength. Once I get back to that point, I will be in the gym, working out and weight lifting. I have a very weak left arm due to some surgery a few years ago and I need to strengthen it considerably. But my goal is to get back to lifting fairly heavy weights to burn fat and start sculpting muscle definition again. I know from past experience that when I work out, I just feel better. I will get back to that point, but it’s going to take some work to get there.

Celebrating success is important – I believe folks should definitely do that. But why not celebrate failures too? Because really, if you learn from those failures, you know what not to do next time, and isn’t that just as important as being successful?

That moment when it all clicks

Are you familiar with that moment in time, where everything suddenly makes sense and you begin to understand what once was just a haze of smoke? I think a lot of people experience this sort of epiphany moment – whether it’s a new job, a new baby, a new relationship, an old relationship, or their health. I think that for Chris, it was that moment when he found out he was diabetic, and that he could control how he felt through diet and exercise. Once he got out of the hospital, and began to feel better, I could see that things were different for him. The same thing happened to my dad – when he found out he was diabetic, he stopped at the supermarket on the way home from the doctor’s office (he wasn’t feeling bad at all, I don’t think; it was through routine bloodwork that he found out he was diabetic), picked up diet soda to replace his one regular soda every night, and boom! He dropped quite a bit of weight and went on with his life. I always thought that it was because of the life-threatening disease that both of the men in my life with diabetes made such quick and wholesale changes to their lifestyles, and maybe it was. But I didn’t have that sort of wake up call to make everything click for me … and I was very fortunate that it didn’t take something like that for me to wake up.

I’ve always thought it was really difficult to lose weight, and to a large degree, it was. But the reason why it was so difficult for me to lose weight was because I sabotaged myself without even realizing it. I love sodas – and I know they aren’t good for you, so I don’t even need to hear about the “science” as to why I shouldn’t drink them. It really is my one true vice; I’ve never smoked, I don’t drink regularly and I’ve never tried any sort of drug for recreational use – legal or illegal. But once I switched from regular to diet drinks and I noticed a weight loss as a result, something clicked for me. But it still wasn’t exactly what I needed to light a fire under me, and kick start my weight loss efforts, though it did push me in that direction.

To date, I’ve lost 16 pounds, and I’m happy about that. But today, I took my body measurements for the second time (the first time was on November 30, 2012). I really thought that I hadn’t lost much in the way of inches because I haven’t been doing any sort of workout, except for a little walking and stair climbing. However, I know that it’s good for my mental image to measure myself and see if I’m losing inches. I was happy to find that I have lost more than five inches in the last six and a half weeks. In fact, I was surprised to find out that I’d lost more than five inches in that time frame, particularly since I’m only measuring my neck, bust, waist, hips and right thigh (I don’t know why I haven’t measured my left thigh, but I haven’t measured my arms because I am not Wonder Woman LOL).

Combined with the weight loss, the realization that sodium is NOT my friend, and the knowledge that small changes can have a big impact (sodas as the case in point there), my epiphany moment came today, when I realized … I absolutely CAN lose weight, and it’s not all that difficult to do it. I’m not downplaying the mental and sometimes physical challenges that come with weight loss, but … once you get your head in the right place, weight loss can be easier than you think. My problem in the past has always been that my head wasn’t in the right place, but now that it is, it’s like a whole new world has opened up to me. A world that is offering me the opportunity to have the body I should have …

What I’ve learned in the last few months is this – if you ever need motivation to do anything, whether it’s change careers or lose weight, the motivation cannot come from somewhere outside your being – it has to come from within. I was inspired by my success with removing regular sodas from my diet to put forth a little more effort. I was motivated by the subsequent weight loss to begin looking at ways I could increase my chances for success, which led to cutting down on sodium in my diet. When I noticed that I am constantly having to turn my wedding ring around because it keeps sliding, and when I put on a pair of pants yesterday that had previously fit well but were a little lose, I took my measurements and compared them to where I was six weeks ago and found that I’m down at least five inches. This has inspired me to keep going, and to add some more serious exercise goals to my plan. I’ll let you know how that goes, but if it’s anything like what’s happened to me over the last three months or so … I’ll be looking for new ways to kick it up a notch in just a few weeks.

Eat more to lose more?

The fitness board I hang around on has this group of people who follow the “eat more to lose more” theory. I know it sounds a bit backwards from what we’ve always been taught, but I have to admit that I adhere to this theory myself, mostly because I find it to be completely true for me. I’ve gained and lost weight throughout my adult years, and I’ve found what works best for me is to exercise regularly, eat well most days, and drink water. I think the drinking water thing is helpful because my sodium intake tends to be fairly high, and it’s something I’m working on. If I don’t exercise, I tend to stay at a stable weight, or gain weight, even if I seem to be getting the food part right. But what surprised me most in all my years of yo-yo dieting is this – if I eat too few calories, I may at first lose weight, but then the weight loss stalls and sometimes even goes the other way. If I eat more than the “standard” calorie intake of a dieting female – which is around 1200-1300 calories – I lose weight.

Now before you go getting all excited and stock up on chips & cookies, let me explain how this works for me. The first thing to note is that on a really good day, I will eat between 1800-2000 calories and most of those calories will be decent choices. A typical food list on a day like this would be an English muffin with three slices of bacon and a small serving of hash brown potatoes for breakfast, a sandwich wrap with low sodium ham, a salad, and a yogurt for lunch, and fish tacos with fresh pico de gallo and a sprinkle of cheese for dinner. I then fill in between breakfast and lunch with a handful of almonds, and between lunch and dinner with a banana and perhaps a light string cheese stick, and for dessert, I might have a Weight Watchers fudge ice cream bar (one of my “guilty pleasures”). And I exercise – for example, walking up nearly 30 flights of stairs. The food logs in just over 2000 calories, but all that stair walking burned nearly 400 calories, and I’m in a deficit for the day.

I could eat 1200-1500 calories a day and lose weight, at least for a while. But the truth is, I will be miserable doing it. I’m going to feel like I’m being deprived of my favorite foods, and then it’s going to send me on a binge that will last for days, if not weeks. That’s just the way I’m built, and I know it. When you KNOW something doesn’t work for you, why continue to try? As we all know, the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again but expecting a different result. Simple common sense will tell you it’s just not possible.

But frankly, I still struggled with weight loss throughout my adult life, primarily because I never felt like I got enough to eat. You’d think that 2000 calories could satiate a girl, but apparently not. At least, not when 300 – 600 of those calories were going toward the consumption of Dr Pepper. Yep, I’ve been a Dr Pepper fiend for most of my adult life, and it ain’t pretty. In fact, I am fairly certain that my ever increasing Dr Pepper consumption was the driver for my weight gain over the last 15 years or so. I didn’t want to give it up, I wasn’t ready to give it up, and I couldn’t imagine going for the rest of my life without ever having a Dr Pepper again – in fact, I flat refused to consider it. Well, that’s not entirely true.

Back in 1999, I gave up sodas for over a year. I was doing really well, and felt pretty good about it, but I missed it. It was never far from my thoughts about how I would like to have just one more taste of a Coke or a Dr Pepper. I work in a highly stressful field and when things would get rough, I would crave soda. After more than a year soda free (and having survived the nightmare of a week-long withdrawal from caffeine), one day I cracked at work and popped open a Coke without even realizing what I was doing. And I drank it, and it was fabulous. I’d like to say that satisfied me and I didn’t drink another, but it would be 12 years before I would even consider setting aside sodas again.

In June 2012, my husband was diagnosed with diabetes. It was pretty bad; he was in the hospital with blood sugar somewhere in the 500’s at the beginning, and we knew that a major contributing factor to his problem was regular sodas. Understand that he is a very large guy, and with good reason. But on that first day when he was admitted to the hospital with diabetes, he made immediate and permanent changes – the first being a switch to diet drinks from regular sodas. We’re both aware that sodas, even diet, are not really good for a person, but it was a first step. And even as he lay there in a hospital bed, so sick he could hardly sit up, I clung to my Dr Pepper. I just couldn’t give it up … could I?

In October, he persuaded me to give diet drinks a two week chance. I didn’t enjoy it … I wanted SO BADLY to drink a regular soda. They tasted bad, they were disgusting, and they gave me headaches (or so I thought). But at the end of two weeks, I had adjusted. I knew I had crossed the line when one day, I took a sip of a nice cold Diet Dr Pepper and thought, “Oh my gosh, that is sooooooo good!” And that is when something clicked for me. I didn’t try to “diet” or change my eating habits, but just the reduction of the calories from the regular sodas caused me to lose 15 pounds between the first of November and the end of December. I began to think that maybe I could lose weight, something that had seemed so impossible in the past.

Once the holidays were over, and January arrived, I made a commitment to be more proactive in my weight loss endeavors. But I was still only half-heartedly doing it. I think it was the sugar hang over from the holidays – I managed to mostly maintain my weight loss over the Christmas holidays (which for us, started on December 15th), although I fluctuated two pounds throughout (not so unusual though, right?). Now that the sugar is out of my system for the most part and my yogurt and fudge bar satisfy those cravings, I think I’m going to be ok. But last night, Chris and I started talking about taking a vacation in the fall. We haven’t made a final decision, but what struck me was this – if we do go on vacation, I don’t want to be tired when we’re checking out the local sites, and I don’t want my back to hurt the whole time either (chronic back pain has been my burden ever since I gained so much weight). Then I realized that I’m sick of the back pain, the shoulder pain, the aching knees, and all the other little aches and pains that I am fairly certain are exacerbated, if not caused by, the excess weight I’m carrying around. So I made a decision and set a goal.

I need to lose 105 pounds from where I am right now. There, I said it. I am more than 100 pounds overweight. I’m sure that people who see me know that I have a lot of weight to lose, so I’m not sure who I’ve thought I was fooling when I would say I have “some” weight to lose. That is seriously a 13 year old! But you know, I’ve already lost a toddler, so losing a teen shouldn’t be difficult, should it? 😉

So, my ultimate goal is to lose 105 more pounds – that will be 120 pounds total. I don’t have a specific time frame for this goal, but it would be nice if I could get it done by the end of 2014. That’s a bit more than a pound a week, and I think it’s doable. My interim goal is to lose 50 of those pounds by the end of October. I would be THRILLED if I could lose 10 of those by March 18, when I will likely have to do a week of travel for work, and that should also be doable.

The fact that I need to lose enough weight to make a whole other person sort of freaks me out, I won’t lie. But now I have all of the tools, all of the knowledge, and the drive to make it happen. And it all started just because I took one small step and gave up regular soda.

Will Climb Stairs for Cardio

I have two basic challenges when it comes to losing weight – drinking enough water, and getting exercise in. It isn’t so much that I can’t get my hands on water, I just usually don’t drink enough of it. And when it comes to exercise, these days I can’t claim I don’t have time to do it – it’s more a logistical challenge than anything. Water I can conquer, but exercise …

For Christmas, my lovely husband gave me a Fitbit One. I had asked for it, and he gave it to me, but I think he expected it to be largely unused. I am happy to say that I have used it every single day, though twice I’ve forgotten to put it back on after taking a shower (both times, I went without it for a couple of hours before I noticed it missing), and once the battery died on me so I had to take it off mid-day to charge it for an hour. Other than that, I’ve worn it all over the house, all over town, to work and even at night (it tracks sleep as well as activity). I decided when I got it that I wanted to see just how active I am in a typical day, so I didn’t try to do anything “extra” from Christmas until now. that gave me a little more than two weeks in which I could identify activity patterns, and let me tell you … it’s an eye-opener.

A lot of people here believe that many people who set their activity levels to sedentary are probably underestimating how much movement they get in a typical day. I’m not one of those people – not one who thinks people underestimate their activity, nor one who actually does that. Much to the contrary, the Fitbit has shown me that I AM sedentary – which isn’t a surprise to me. I have a very stressful job as a desk jockey, and it often doesn’t allow for me to take long periods of time away to be more active. During an average weekday, I spend 19 hours being sedentary. NINETEEN HOURS. That is a LOT of time to sit on one’s ass. The rest of the day, I’m either “fairly active” or “lightly active”. Rare is the day I hit the “very active” level. And while the weekends are more active for me, where I spend an average of 7 hours as lightly or fairly active, that still means I’m spending 9 hours as sedentary. Now the reason for that is that many of my hobbies – quilting, sewing, reading, and processing photos in a digital darkroom – are also done while sitting down. But I have realized this is neither good for me, or helpful to my weight loss efforts, so I have decided to “step up” my activity levels.

But how? I don’t have a gym membership and while I could probably afford one, I don’t really want to join right now – new year joiners and all that. The weather is terrible – thunderstorms and such the last couple of days, so walking outside is out. So today, I woke up and decided that I wanted to go for the next step badge the Fitbit offers – 25 floors. I don’t always work in my office, some days I work at home. But today, I am in the office, and I decided that once an hour I would get up and go downstairs and walk back up at least three flights (there are five in this part of the building) then come back to my desk. This will give me a chance to get away from my desk at least once an hour, I will get in my cardio, and it makes sure I move fairly often.

I have 2 hours and 45 minutes left in my work day and I am currently at 16 floors done. I am totally psyched about this, because I thought I would crap out about halfway through the day, honestly. But I didn’t – I’ve kept going. I missed the 9 am hour, but walked twice in the 10 am hour, about 30 minutes apart. And when I went downstairs to grab a bottle of water, I came back up and did all five floors. For me, that’s a pretty big deal. I have knee problems, but it makes going down much worse than coming back up, and I have decided I won’t let that hold me back. I’ve got three more hours in which to walk up the stairs at work, and I’m hoping that gets me to 25, but if it doesn’t, I live in a two story house, so I can get the rest of them at home. I can do this, and I realized that I can do it daily.

Is my solution perfect? Probably not. But it’s working for me right now, and I can always add more stairs. I plan to add weights as well, because I love working out with weights (I’m not a newbie to exercise, just very out of practice), but today’s workout is cardio, and I’m pretty happy with it. 🙂