With this new found confidence from the 12 lbs I dropped the previous six months, I decided to focus my attention on a strict diet and workout routine. Back in Dallas, my workout routine was a 20 min. treadmill exercise: part running, part walking. I started with 75% walking and 25% running, slowly progressing to 90% running and 10% walking. I reached a point where I jogged for 15 min. and only walked 5 min.
Then the move to Fort Worth happened and for whatever reason I just stopped exercising. Our new apartment has a fitness center and my new work schedule allowed me more time to exercise, but I just didn’t do it…until August.
The ultimate motivation to exercise on a regular basis was the realization that I lost 12 lbs without even trying. How much weight could I lose now that I’m paying attention?
My girlfriend is a huge nature lover and finally convinced me to go hiking with her. After an hour-trip hiking around a trail by Lake Worth, I immediately fell in love. The multiple paths encouraged return trips and each path had it’s own level of difficulty. Plus, it feels nice to be out enjoying the sunlight.
I couldn’t go on a hiking trip everyday, so I had to make due with the fitness center just 50 ft from my front door. Wanting to mimic the elevation of the trails, I started completing 30 min treadmill sessions, increasing the incline every five minutes. Instead of running, I started out walking the entire session, over time slowly incorporating at least three 2-minute sprints.
After downloading MyFitnessPal and tracking my daily caloric intake, I did my best to stay around 2,000 calories per day. It turned out to be more difficult than I imagined. I realized how heavily my daily snacking affected my diet. Every other day, I strolled over to the vending machine to grab a candy bar. It also didn’t help that the office break room is constantly stocked with pastries. I resolved this issue by restricting myself to three square meals a day and two snacks at work: one at 10am and the next at 3pm. I stockpiled granola bars and refused any food offered at work.
It was hard at first. More than once did I find myself hovering over a Dunkin’ Donuts box, imagining the taste of the sweet, glazed goodness.
“It’s just one donut, it won’t kill you. You could just eat half of it and throw the rest away.”
Luckily, my constitution was stronger than my tastebuds and I’ve never touched a donut or pastry delivered to work. It’s the small victories that matter.
My stomach was a bit hesitant to the new regimen because it got used to years of large-sized meals. I didn’t stop eating when I was full, I stopped eating when all the food was gone. I would often eat to the point of a stomachache, which I was willing to endure if given a plate of buffalo wings, fries, and chocolate lava cake. I became a regular at fine establishments such as Buffalo Wild Wings, Jersey Mike’s, Chipotle, Chili’s, Wing Stop, and more. The problem was that I saw a meal as an event and not fuel for my body. If I was going to eat, I wanted to have fun doing it. Greasy food gave me that rush of dopamine that a salad just couldn’t provide. The challenge was to distant myself from that mentality and focus on my body, not my tastebuds. Granola bars still contained the sweet taste, but are more nutritious than a Snickers bar.
So how was I able to overcome this obstacle? Mental strength is an important factor. I needed to believe that I could live off smaller portions. Instead of completely re-vamping my food habits, I made small changes that gradually progressed over time. Whenever grocery shopping, I bought the healthier snacks instead of candy or chocolate. I can’t eat junk food if it’s absent from my pantry. If I’m going to get fast food, I’d make a promise to myself to leave out the soda, or the side of fries, or refuse the larger size.
Setting a large goal is ambitious but increases the chance of failure. These little goals boost my confidence and keep me motivated to stay the course. I was able to lose 10 more pounds with my adjusted regimen. I still have a long road ahead, but it’s nice to stop and enjoy your progress.