Thursday, June 21, 2012

My Keys to Fitness

Six weeks ago, I started a fitness regime to help me lose weight. On my last visit to my doctor, he remarked that my cholesterol level shot through the roof, but he also noticed that I had gained some weight.

He made no bones about it: he called me fat.

When I visited him, I weighed 175 pounds. That was 10 pounds more than I weighed the last time he saw me, when he told me that I could stand to lose 10 to 15 pounds.

I now found myself with 20 to 25 pounds to lose. And so I got serious and started thinking about what I was going to do to lose the weight.

The first thing I focused on was my diet. I cut out snacking between meals. No more chips. I also decided that I wouldn't eat after 8 pm. And I would reduce the size of my meal portions.

I downloaded an app on my iPhone to keep track my caloric intake and keep track of my weight-loss progress. I use MyFitnessPal, which gives me a daily caloric allowance—I have a daily allotment of 1230 calories. The app has a vast database of natural and prepared foods, and I can even scan a barcode on a package to determine the calories. When I exercise (and I'm getting to that), the app calculates the calories that are burned and adds them back to my daily total.

So, while 1230 calories doesn't sound like much, the daily total goes up with every activity.

The second thing I focused on for my weight loss was a regular fitness regime. Every day, I need to perform an activity that makes me sweat for at least half an hour.

Now that we're into fair weather in Ottawa, I cycle to work once or twice a week, usually Tuesdays and Fridays. My cycle route takes me anywhere from 47 to 55 minutes, depending on the wind, to cover the 20 kilometres to get to work. On the way home, it takes a little longer because it's largely uphill and the wind almost always seems to be against me. The ride home generally takes about an hour.

On my cycle commute, I burn at least 700 calories. Not too shabby.

On the days that I don't cycle, I walk a three-kilometre circuit in the neighbourhood around my office. There are steep elevation changes, making it a challenging hike. And I really motor: my fastest time was this Monday, at 26:56. At that pace, I almost broke into a run as I swept down a steep section!

Last weekend, I cycled a 48-kilometre loop around the city, which I now plan to do early every Sunday. With a few tweaks to the route, I plan to stretch it to a round 50K.

Again, I use my iPhone to track my walking and cycling workouts. For this, I use Cyclemeter. It's a fantastic app. It uses GPS to track my pace and provides my overall time, average speed, fastest speed, fastest kilometre, calories burned, and more. It uses Google Maps to give me a satellite image of the area, with my route marked out, showing the kilometres divided up. I can click the kilometre to see what my average speed was for that segment.

The app also talks to me, so if I save a route, it periodically tells me whether I'm ahead or behind my best, median, or worst time. I know the voice is going to come through my headphones when the volume of the music that I play drops: it resumes the playing level once the message is delivered.

My favourite feature is the e-mail notification. When I tap Start, an email message is sent to me and anyone I want (Lori also gets the message). A second message with my stats is sent when I tap Stop. But the cool thing is that when Lori receives the first e-mail, she can click a link any time through my run to see the map, with my route so far and my location within the last five seconds.

So if I don't check in when I'm expected, she can locate me.

It's been six weeks since I started my weight-loss regime, watching what I eat and exercising daily. So far, so good. In the six-week period, I've lost 12 pounds. That's two pounds for each week, so far. During the week, my weight fluctuates, but at the end of each week, when I do my weigh-in, I have seen a significant loss.

I feel it in my gut. I see it in my face. Lori and the girls even notice that I'm in better spirits. If only I could get more sleep: imagine the changes in me.

I'm about halfway to my desired weight. I anticipate tougher challenges as I drop below the weight I've been carrying for years. As my flab turns to muscle. Ultimately, it's not the numbers I care about, though I strongly feel my goals are attainable.

I have my next blood test next week. I'm hoping that my cholesterol scores from last time were a glitch. I expect a significant reduction.

And I see my doctor in five weeks: if I can drop another 10 pounds, he won't call me fat.

He'll call me phat!


  1. Keep up the good work. I went through similar last year. Even though it's subtle at first, it's amazing how different you feel as the weight comes off.

    1. Thanks for the support, Michael. It also feels great after accomplishing a good workout. I love my bike and actually look forward to the next time I'll get on it.

      Kudos to you and your accomplishment! You must be proud.