I’m here in Southern California, a transplant from Philadelphia to Colorado through New Mexico. So, when I start this article please cut me a little slack as I did actually see snow in my life. But even in Southern California, the season does change. It also affects people’s desire to push forward physically.
In January 2017, my queen Heidi enrolled us in the Corona Transformation Camp. This is one of those 6-week body camps to get folks trimmed down at least 20 pounds. Now each of these places has their own fine print — which is fine. They need to turn a profit to stay open right? This particular camp allows members to re-enlist for additional 6-week tours until they reach their goal weight. The weight they pick for you based on height at the very beginning. We agreed and jumped in.
Nearly 60 pounds down a few months later, the task now became maintenance. This has been a paradigm shift in thinking for me, but my instincts form an athletic past led me down a path that worked. Nearly two years later I am in the same weight range, but my fitness level continues to advance. Not bad for a guy in his fifties. While I experienced success in my camp, I can very much see how many folks fail. The camps are a concentrated group dynamic using a combination of diet and high energy workouts. Many individuals cannot afford this type of training in an ongoing situation, and many struggle to maintain diet and intensity on their own.
The following is some of my opinions on maintaining or increasing fitness through changing seasons or other obstacles that may interfere with your desire and follow through to take care of you.
1. Think of the math. You hear so much online and in your place of work or school about different diets. Keto is big now and in fact currently in use at my own home. Remember though, it wasn’t that long ago that people were eating grapefruit for two meals a day. When I say think of the math, to me its simple. Burn at least, if not more than what you consume. There are far too many easy ways to calculate food intake vs. calories burned. Learn one and use it.
2. SmartWatch. Whether you use a Fitbit, Apple Watch, Samsung Watch or a cheap knockoff from Wish (they work — ask me how) you will have a real-time reminder of your laziness throughout the day. If it has a sedentary reminder, use it. It reminds you to get up and walk around instead of binge-watching Netflix.
3. Turn off the TV. I literally caught my daughter a couple of weekends ago binge-watching The Office. While she has great taste in shows, her time management is horrible. Here is a beautiful SoCal Saturday and I walked through the living room realizing a sixth episode had just started. “Are you kidding me?! You’re gonna waste a whole Saturday sitting under a blanket watching sitcoms?” If you track the shows you watch and add up the time, then ask what value this is adding to your life, you’ll turn it off.
4. Remember Number One? I mentioned the number of calories in relation to burning calories. I would also like to mention — especially as we enter a heavy travel and holiday season — the quality of the calories is important. While I am not here to push a special diet, I do feel that for the purpose of this article and the target audience… cut the fast food, processed foods like prepackaged frozen dinners, high sugar content items and most breads. I have also interviewed lots of people that are very susceptible to weight issues when consuming dairy. Pay attention to what is going in and you’ll get a more efficient burn. (Perhaps I’ll cover more on diet in the future?)
5. Challenge yourself. A key to my own success has been to consistently sign up for a challenge. I mix them up to keep my fitness goals diverse. Sign up for a 5K run. Then maybe a Warrior Dash. Get a buddy to register for a 50-mile bike ride or even a century depending on your level of fitness. The key here is to consistently challenge yourself near monthly. Always have a “next” event to be getting ready for. By signing up for, paying, and SHARING my intended challenges… it gives me the inspiration and accountability to perform the task. Being prepared for the task inspires my workouts even when my heart might not be in it.
6. Invest in you. Take stock of the whole package. Are you feeling pain in your joints that a chiropractic visit might help? Are you feeling sluggish and need a break? Take a moment and do some real soul-searching to see what your gap is. Some folks can take a weekend at a nice hotel to chill out and come back a whole new committed (for at least 3 months) person. Maybe it’s a pamper day at the spa? Whatever your choice of respite is, get it. You need to be emotionally happy to achieve the physical — and sometimes it takes a card swipe to make it happen.
7. Invest in your gear. Let’s say you took my advice in #5 and signed up for a 5K. You launch an application on your phone meant to train you from the couch to a 5K. An issue for you might be not having the right shoes. Get some. Running on old or poorly fit shoes does more harm than good. I recently doubled down on a Mountain Bike that would normally be more than my comfort level to spend… but I am spending 10 hours a week in the saddle. You need the right equipment to attain your goals and challenges.
8. Daily weigh-ins. This is a tough subject and I am sure I will get some feedback on this one. Here is what I do and how I manage myself with the scale. I don’t have a magic number I am trying to get to. What I do is weigh myself every day. In my mind, I have green numbers, yellow numbers and red numbers. It’s not the number per se, rather a range of numbers that tell me a trend in my weight status. If I see I am consistently going down and feel healthy, I am happy — the numbers are green. If I am stagnated on the scale, but active and overall feeling well — the numbers are yellow. This makes me pay a little more attention to what is going in. I may cut down on a glass of wine or beer with dinner. I may be more mentally cognizant of that cookie in the office. If I see the numbers steadily climbing while feeling a bit sluggish, I know I am in the red and the time for action is now. I cease the beer and wine, no bread and make it a point to up the mileage on the bike, or go to one of my least favorite — running. As soon as I clear the diet and increase the activity level — I generally feel better with more perk in my step and see the trend reverse on the scale.
9. Don’t concentrate on the number. Related to #8 but deserved of its own bullet, the number on the scale is an indicator for trending, not a resolute. I think of Dynamometers in the Powersports industry. Rarely will two dynos read the same horsepower, but if you “tune” a vehicle and test it before and after the tuning, any dyno will translate the improvement for you. Being so focused on a magic number — at least in my experience — can cause negative effects on you mentally, which can cause you to do things negatively in the physical. Watch the weight for trends and altering your program.
10. Switch it up. I just mentioned altering your program. This is paramount to me. Some may not agree, but I can do the no carbs thing and get great results — then plateau. If I ram in some carbs, exercise like crazy and get back into the carb free thing again, I will generally spark another series of weight loss trend. I’ve seen this with the Keto as well. It’s like the body gets used to something and works past your plan behind your back. Sometimes you got to throw it a curve. Now if your doctor is telling you something else about diet, remember — I am not a doctor.
11. Change Gears. A piggyback to #10 but referring to the work in your workout. If you are into bicycling for example, there is a ton of difference between road biking and mountain biking. Mountain biking in a single-track environment generally involves more intervals and climbs. It also requires more dexterity to add body English to the maneuverability of the bike. Road biking is about cadence and consistency. They both have their value. I love a good fifty to seventy-five mile road bike adventure, keeping my heart rate up around 130 for the average. But… I also love a 15 mile Mountain Bike trail ride with climbing heart spikes of 180BPM. When my back and shoulders get tired from time in the saddle — I strap on my Nikes and “Just do it”. A 35 minute 5K on a cool evening gets the heart rate up and mixes up my routine — keeping my body guessing.
12. Find some friends. If you are out of shape, look at your friends. Chances are they are too. We have a habit of taking on the qualities of the individuals we most associate with. Without saying you have to dis-own your existing network, find some new friends that care about fitness. You can use Strava, GPS My Ride, Meetup, or a local gym to find some people. On Strava, I will find people that ride in my area, like their posts, follow them and eventually meet them on the trail. I’ve also reached out to church members to share some time in the saddle. Some of the best networking happens in fitness comradery.
13. Keep reading. Make it a point to continually add positive messaging to your brain. Whether its about food, working out, time management, etc. Putting good data in will help in getting good results out.
I hope this helps and see some value in the words I have written. I would love to hear from you. These “Opinions” as I titled them are just that — my opinion. I see all kinds of stuff on the internet posted by people that look like superheroes, and while I find them inspiring can sometimes have a hard time relating.
Like me, you probably have a job to do outside of a gym. You probably have commitments that prevent you from having hours to spend each day at a gym. If I could put you at ease with this… I had a packed life too when I committed to losing some weight. All it really took was a “decision”. I was tired of being fat and truly wanted the change. I began to wake up 1.5 hours earlier every day — work out — watch what I ate and sometimes have to check out for an early bedtime. But 6-months in, I was 60 pounds lighter and able to make more balanced decisions to meet my life needs and maintain my fitness.
Please join me.