I seem to be having tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle

The title above is quoted from Douglas Adams, and I thought of it while considering my own lifestyle.
At the start of this year, I decided I needed to make some fundamental changes in how I go through my days. While not prompted by any one event, the combination of busy home life and increasing sluggishness and lack of energy made me think that it was time to reassess my day. And so you know, this was not a new year’s resolution, since they aren’t kept.
With the arrival of number 2 son mid-January, and the ever increasing energy of number 1 son, I’ve decided to create a new way of approaching diet and exercise. That is to say, I started them.
In a moment of synergy, at the time I decided to start this new lifestyle, I attended a professional development session at work about stress and nutrition, which bolstered my decision. Armed with some new info, I began in earnest. So here’s the deal:
First, I am not on a diet. I am changing my habits. A “diet” implies I am limiting what I can or can’t eat. What I’m doing is just assessing what it is I’m eating, and to limit my portions. I am using some shortcuts (such as having diet microwave entrees for lunch rather than going out) but even at home, I keep myself to reasonable portions. I’m still eating stuff I like (such as pasta, which is a “diet” no-no), and it seems to be working well.
Next, I am not on a weight loss program. Yes, I’m overweight – shock, I know. And what I’ve found is tracking weight (looking at it as quantifying loss) is unsatisfying. Every time I step on the scale, even when there is loss, all I see is the distance I have to go. It feels like I don’t lose fast enough, and that’s discouraging. So instead, I am not stepping on a scale, at least not until I can perceive a definite change in my size (a good one is when I run out of notches on my belt – there’s currently one more left).
Lastly, I am not on an exercise program. No measuring, no tracking. I am trying to just make it a habit that I need to fulfill every day. To that end my lunchtime at work is now spent at the Union Building, either on the elliptical trainer, or lifting weights and riding the bike. On weekends I try to get in a bike ride while the family takes their afternoon naps (sadly, nature has conspired to keep me from biking three weekends in a row – I don’t want to do any “workout tapes”, cause it doesn’t feel right doing that stuff in my living room). One goal for the new house is to equip it with some gear to facilitate some additional exercise. What I’d like is a morning and afternoon workout, but the aforementioned boys make that a bit tougher.
So there it is. Call it a program if you like, but with some dedication I hope that the new lifestyle becomes just the way I live.

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  1. tomwest says:

    It is so great to see my college buds gaining ground on the health front. Squiggy’s doing a bang-up job with his efforts. I’m not going to tell you my routine for exercise and diet, because mine’s a lot more “hard core” than yours, but I’ve also been at it for quite a while. The diet shift started for me back in 2001 when the misses and I did the South Beach Diet hard core for a month. What I can tell you about that is that dieting is about changing your habits long-term and developing a new lifestyle. Over the years, I’ve continued to make adjustments and am now up to an all organic diet with no soda, nearly no processed sugar, and as much home-grown food as possible. Exercise-wise, I’ve stepped that up in the past year to match my uber-buff wife and I’m loving the results. I’ve dropped 20 pounds since my wedding, but not all at once. Five came off just by giving up soft drinks. Another five came off by eating smaller portions and eating more fruits and veggies. The last ten has been from the workouts. It’s definitely a process over time, and who really cares how much you weigh – it’s about how you feel.

  2. Squiggy says:

    My weight’s fluctuating a little week-to-week, and sometimes I find myself slipping back into bad habits, but I don’t beat myself up about it when I do, like I might have done a few years ago. This week I decided to add a little ab training to Saturdays, instead of spending the day sitting on the couch watching hockey. I’m in a bit of pain at the moment, but I’ll be back on the bike for 45 minutes soon.

    The key is motivation. As Carlin said, “You have to WANNA!” Don’t worry if you’re not losing as fast as you think you should be. Too many people think they should be able to flip a switch and get instant results from everything in life, and it just doesn’t work that way. Do I want to be 185# by the time of my high school reunion? I’d better plan two years in advance for it, then, not two weeks or two months. Especially if I’m well over 200#.

    As far as eating habits, I’m finding a few things:

    – Drop the soda. In fact, drop everything that isn’t water. You want orange juice? Eat an orange. I buy milk for cereal, and that’s it.

    – Try to limit the amount of high fructose corn syrup in your diet. It’s all sugar, with no nutritional benefit whatsoever. Watch out for where it’ll sneak in to your diet: Dannon Fruit-on-the-Bottom yogurt cups list it as the fifth ingredient, after milk, fruit, sugar, and fructose syrup. I’ve just started buying 2# of yogurt and a quarter-pound of blueberries, and making my own yogurt cups. Maybe not cheaper, but I have a better idea of what’s in it.

    – Take one day a week to eat whatever the hell you want. Friday, I had soda with lunch and dessert afterward. No guilt; I knew I’d worked enough that week to deserve it.

  3. DaveHo says:

    I’ve found that going “hardcore” results in eventually falling out of compliance, at least in the times I’ve done it. Results come faster, but motivation can fall off too as the ol’ demons (sedentary activity, big portions) creep in. So rather than banishing the demons I am putting them “in their place”.
    Soda is a biggie. I’ve migrated to almost all caffeine-free diet stuff (which at that point it becomes a can of aspartame acid water). I have been drinking considerably less soda (typically at lunch and evening) and have taken to having a bottle of water I can walk around with during the day. Coffee is still an AM ritual as well (though I am fighting for a more caffeine-free existence – I dealt with THAT demon earlier!)
    Portion is the biggie: My problem wasn’t eating stuff that wasn’t good for me, it was eating TONS of stuff, healthy or not. By doing simple things (like denying a second helping of anything at meals) I’m seeing results.
    I really want to make exercise the thing that does the work for me. My ideal would be getting up early and running on an elliptical trainer (with the handles) for a solid hour. As it is with the boys and work, my 1/2 hr at lunch will suffice. Perhaps someday I can get the wherewithal to expand the routine.

  4. tomwest says:

    My wife calls it “High Fructose Corn Crap”.

    I worked my way up to “hard core” and had a wife who was already there to goad me into it.

    Caffeine assists your brain in maintaining long-term memory, according to Dr. Mehmet Oz of Oprah fame. I drink coffee in the morning, but that is the extent of my caffeine intake. Besides downing water, the other beverage that is uber-good for you is tea. Lissa drinks a green-white blend and chai tea, and I lately have been partaking at night before bed of a cup of Airborne nighttime hot apple cider (ok, it’s not tea, but it’s good for me).

    On top of that, I’m taking coral calcium and fish oil – both of which assist brain activity. I’m reading through Dr. Oz’s “YOU Sta ying Young” right now – lots of good info. His series of YOU books are great resources for getting control of your health, plus they’re written tongue-in-cheek for those who don’t read regularly (which is not me).

  5. lenmchast says:

    If it’s alright with all of ya, I want in on this discussion about striving to lose weight and be extra fit. You know why? I like the style of this group. Believe me, as my older psuedo-doppleganger will tell you, I was once a Weight Watcher devotee. In theory, the plan itself made some sense: Assign a certain number of points to each piece of food, and make sure to eat a set amount of points before stopping for the day. And as the lbs. dwindle, so you move to a lower # of points. The only thing I didn’t like about the experience was the meetings (which you paid about $14 a week to go to, I might add). Lemme tell you something: When you’re in a room full of 25-30 some women, ranging in age from 30-55, it can be a little irritating at times. These women were so neurotic about their weight and eating habits, it made “Seinfeld” look like the frickin’ “Brady Bunch”. The leader of this meeting must’ve gone to the Oprah School of Hosting in terms of her manic interaction with all the “ladies”, but I’ll spare you of any of that.
    Like any man with half a brain in his head, I stopped going (well, that plus I wasn’t able financially to keep it going). After being off of it for a while, I recently tried to redo the Weight Watchers plan again. Yet, somehow, it was much more diffficult to stay on it alone than when you have that constant support (my first time around, I was actually dating this girl [DaveHo knows which bi..I mean ONE I’m talking about] who was doing it as well, so she and I supported each other).
    I look forward to seeing more suggestions posted here. Plus, in terms of support, I know you fellow bros will help out without any ridiculous demonstrations of sappy inspirational poetry or a circle-cry like I used to see at WW meetings, but rather simple, logical and practical ideas to help us all be much healthier and to lose that extra spare tire (of which mine looks like it came off one of those huge dump trucks used in quarries).