I’m proud of the fact that I’ve lost 10 pounds since January 2016. I’ve quite literally had to work my butt off to achieve this, but it didn’t take much outside of the doctor’s recommendation: work out often and eat in moderation. The hardest part was putting it into practice.
In January 2016, I decided I would set my mind to assume that I would work out every day, unless I physically could not. This subtle shift in my thinking pattern changed everything. Rather than forcing myself to go to the gym 3 times a week, I assumed it was a daily task I was meant to complete, like my daily hygiene ritual. Rest days became an exception rather than the norm.
Prior to my previous diet attempts, which were numerous and fleeting, I decided not cut out any particular food this time around. I eat anything that pleases me as long as it does not exceed my caloric intake for the day. Specifically, I follow the macro diet, or the flex diet. If it fits my macros, I can eat it. This is a very freeing “diet” for me, as I feel like I can follow it for the rest of my life.
I log my food in an app called LifeSum. A lot of my friends like My Fitness Pal, too. I also have a FitBit to keep track of my activity and workouts. Here is a typical daily log from my LifeSum app of the 1600 calories I consume, with my macro breakdown being 140 g of carbs, 120 g of protein, and 62 g of fat. I drink at least 8 separate 8 oz glasses of water a day.
- Breakfast: Chicken sausage, breakfast muffin
- Mid-morning snack: More protein, like 2 eggs
- Lunch: Turkey Sandwich, Veggies
- Afternoon Snack: Apples and Peanut Butter
- Dinner: Chicken, vegetables, some form of carbs
- Post-workout: Protein shake
- Dessert: If it fits my macros, I fit this in wherever I want. Most often I eat ice cream around dinner, but sometimes I eat it at lunch.
There is a lot of food listed there, right? The trick is making sure my ratio of protein to carb to fat is healthy and fits my macros. LifeSum makes it easy for me to keep track.
I’ve had friends and colleagues who have had success in cutting out gluten or dairy or sugar to lose weight, and I applaud them. The major difference is consistency: I am not willing to cut out gluten or dairy (or whatever) forever, so cutting it out now means I am more likely to overeat it later, because I denied myself for a short term. For me, it’s better to moderate all things in a replicable format than to cut out foods that I love on a periodic basis.
The change in my behavior and its trackable success is utterly simple in its logic but ridiculously hard to enforce without discipline: be active daily and eat in moderation.
The majority of our wealthy country is plagued by obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. For an overwhelming majority of us, these are all avoidable issues. Personally, I had to get past the myriad of psychological blockers that kept me from going to the gym. I rid my schedule entirely of distractions and truly prioritized my health. This is not easy. I managed to do this only because I moved across the state and forced myself not to take any extra responsibilities outside of my full time job and my health. Not everyone has the ability to start over in a new city, but most everyone has the ability to re-prioritize and start putting their health first.
Most importantly: I do not take any weight loss supplements. I do not engage in any unhealthy food behaviors like bingeing, purging, or starving. I do not body shame myself or others. I believe I am strong, capable, and worthy, even though I am still technically overweight. I also believe it is important to fail.
In all this, my goal has been centered around these three things that for so long have been out of my grasp physically, mentally, and emotionally: be healthy, be strong, be disciplined. I didn’t believe these things were possible for me. Now I know better.
My Workout Schedule
The reality is, I am a bit strange: I am a woman that lifts heavy weights. My main focus is strength training. I work on low repetition, high weights. My newest love in life is rock climbing, so I am trying to faithfully gain the overall body strength this sport requires to really excel in lugging around my body weight.
Weight training is giving me huge strength gains quickly; yoga is helping me strengthen up those stabilizer muscles that I just don’t hit as frequently; cardio is assisting me in faster weight loss and a healthy heart; climbing is making me feel like a superstar.
- Weight lift 4 times a week: (upper body [split into two days], lower body, core).
- Warm up with at least 10 minutes of cardio before weight lifting or climbing
- Climb 2-3 days per week
- Do 20-30 minutes of cardio 3 times a week
- Plan to do yoga once a week
- Build in space for one total rest day (restorative yoga on this rest day is okay)
- Walk or bike the mile to my gym as often as possible
My goals and rules have evolved in the last month. I feel I am smarter and more efficient.
Day One: Upper Body Weight Training [back and chest] + Cardio or Restorative Yoga
Day Two: Climbing
Day Three: Upper Body Weight Training [shoulders and arms] + Cardio
Day Four: Yoga [consider using Rest Day]
Day Five: Lower Body Weight Training + Cardio
Day Six: Climbing + optional Cardio
Day Seven: Core Weight Training + Cardio [consider using Rest Day]
I attempt to give myself some flexibility in a disciplined schedule. I require variety to stay interested in something. And honestly, some days I need to switch things around based on how my body feels and what I plan on doing the next day. For instance, I’m not going to want to focus on shoulders and arms and do intensive climbing the next day or the same day.
The rest days are float days, reserved for any days I feel my body needs to recuperate. The most important thing is that I do not push my body past what is safe just for the sake of accomplishing something on my achievement list.
Encouragement for Gym Noobs
There is a fine line between pushing yourself past what is comfortable and what is safe. When you first start working out after leading a sedentary lifestyle, it is more important to have a goal that you can accomplish, like consistently working out 2-3 times a week.
Months ago when I was a complete gym newbie, I was coming from a sedentary lifestyle. I started working out maybe three times a week, and it was mostly weight training and climbing because I initially hated cardio so much. Climbing was my gateway drug into the gym. I loved it so much I was willing to start consistently strength training so I could improve my climbing skills. If you’re anything like me, you need to find one sport or fitness activity that excites you enough to work on your overall fitness.
Is it Working?
Yes, absolutely. I can honestly tell you that in the three months I have been following this schedule, I have achieved these things:
- Lost 10 pounds
- 100 pound squat record
- 85 pound bench press record
- 210 pound leg presses
- 90 pound lat pull downs and back rows
- 3 sets of 8 reps on hanging leg raises
- Consistently climbing 5.8’s
- 10-15 minute sprints on the rowing machine pretty much daily
- 1 mile runs on the elliptical machine, working up to a mile on treadmill
- My posture is 10x better
Note: not everything I do at the gym is listed here. I just listed my big personal records. Here are a few progress pictures.
My goal is to maximize strength to body weight ratio so I can become a better climber and be a healthier human. This would require losing a lot of weight, which will (and should) take a while to achieve safely.
I feel healthy and confident after a few months of an active lifestyle. I hope you are encouraged on some small scale knowing that a normal girl like me can start to pursue health and find progress without any bells and whistles. I know you can do it, too.
If you have any questions about my workout or diet plans, let me know! I’ll do my best to answer, but keep in mind I’m not a professional nutritionist nor a personal trainer. I’m also not being paid to advertise any particular product. 🙂
Let me know what you’re doing in your workout regime to aid your healthy lifestyle!