Wanted: Motivation to Run!

I am trying to find the motivation to run

(via Pixabay)

For some people it’s the fresh start of a new year. For others it’s springtime renewal. For me, fall is the time of year when I feel like cleaning, organizing, and making big changes in my life. I got engaged in the fall, married in the fall, officially started my professional writing career in the fall — anyway, the point I am trying to make is that fall is my favorite time of year!!! Maybe it’s the sound of leaves crunching beneath my feet, the crisp, cool smell in the air that perks me up every morning, maybe it’s the delicious taste of soup that’s been cooking all day in the crock-pot, or the fiery colors of the changing leaves — everything about autumn is beautiful, comforting, warm and inviting to me. So even though it sounds like I just want to wrap up in a big fuzzy blanket, sit by the fire, watch football, and eat a big bowl of chili with cheese and onions on top – which I so totally do – it has also prompted me to start thinking about exercise. Odd you say? Probably, but everyone has their own sense of timing and we are each motivated by different things.

I know that the cooler months are when most people increase the amount of comfort (often fattening) food they eat. These are heavier, heavenly meals that warm our tummies and leave us feeling like we want to hibernate. Right now, I’m thinking about that too! However, even though I eat healthy most of the time, I will admit that I do not get the exercise I need. I know I really need to change that — I just have to find the time and motivation to get moving.  When I first start out with a new exercise goal I do pretty well for a few weeks but for some reason I cannot stay on track. Soon I start feeling too busy with work, household chores and the other daily tasks I face as a work-at-home mom — BUT the reality is everyone is busy and anyone can find excuses to hold themselves back from attaining goals, which BTW I’m excellent at doing!

Why I don’t run

I would really like to take up running but there is a big problem — I despise it. I don’t like being out of breath, sweating, or getting side aches. I don’t want to run in the morning because according to the news it always seems like dead bodies are always “…discovered by an early morning jogger.” — well, joggers and fishermen actually. I also don’t want to run at night because I don’t want to be found by another jogger in the morning. Yeah, I should probably lay off the Dateline and 48 Hours Mysteries for awhile. See what I mean though — I’ve got all kinds of silly excuses so why bother right?

According to MayoClinic.org regular exercise helps relieve stress, improves your mood, boosts energy, controls weight and a bunch of other great things. It’s also important to get at least 30 minutes of rigorous exercise a day to stay healthy and to prevent certain diseases. If living longer isn’t a good enough reason, I don’t know what is.

Why I want to run

But when there are so many other exercise alternatives, why do I want to take up running — something I have already stated I do not like doing? Well the answer is simple, I really want to like it! I really do. I am in love with the idea of being a runner. I’m not talking about running in a gym on a treadmill (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Instead, I envision myself running outside and feeling very free and incredibly alive!

Another reason is that my dog would LOVE it! There is a saying; “If your dog is overweight, you aren’t getting enough exercise.”  This is true in our case. While my dog isn’t obese or anything — she (and I) could stand to lose a few pounds and also tone up our girlish figures. She’s 6 years old and I want her to be around for a long time because I simply adore her!

So what I am planning to do is to come up with a game plan. By October 1stI want to be running/jogging/speed-walking/or regular walking a couple of times a week. The other days I’ll do yoga, my Wii Fit or some other type of exercise. I’m going to devise a time table to fit this into my daily routine and make it work.

I really hope there are folks out there who might be able to give me some tips. I know that my role here is to provide tips to you but I am always open to suggestions from people in the know. So let’s hear it — how do you stay motivated? How do you juggle, work, kids, household chores, volunteer work, and still have time to exercise? Do you love to exercise or do you just get in, do it and get it over with?

I’ll be updating you on my progress in a few weeks.

 Do you run? How did you find the motivation to start?

Getting Back to Fit

Running on the beach for fitness

Curtesy of Pixabay

If you have had kids, and you are not part of that blessed percentage that just watches as fat melts away naturally after giving birth, then chances are you will still be saddled by some form of baby weight. At least I am, after two kids delivered by caesarian section, still struggling with extra weight. And so are a number of my mommy friends.

This is a really frustrating thing for me because I was quite fit all throughout my twenties, after shedding the baby fat of those teen years.  I also come from a family that has a tendency to expand after having children so I always told myself that I would be careful and be diligent about my weight and the way that I look after having kids.

But because of a number of reasons- separation, two kids in close succession, full time work and now with added part-time jobs on the side- the weight and waistline just expanded beyond my control. Add to that that I quit smoking (yahoo!) at the beginning of this year.  During the last quarter of last year I made a commitment to get back to being fit. I signed up at a gym and researched on many different diets.  It is a struggle I am still wrestling with today.

Here are some things I have come to realize on the weight loss quest:

Commitment is required for weight loss

It is all about commitment first.  You have to really want to lose weight because it is this desire that will keep you focused on the goal and will keep your resistance to those ‘bad things’ strong.

Diet and exercise are necessary

Since I do not have the money or stomach to undergo any kind of cosmetic surgery, I am resorting to the tried and tested diet and exercise formula.  Doing research also has shown that there is no magic product to help with weight loss. You really just have to sweat it out. I figured, hey, it took some effort to pack on the pounds. I need to now exert the required effort to take these off.

You cannot crash diet or force exercise

It really has to be about finding that diet that works for your body, is still healthy and will not have you depriving yourself of the vitamins and minerals you need on a daily basis, and it has to be something you are willing to stick to for life.  If you look at some people who went on certain diets then lose weight, then went off the diets and ballooned, you will realize that it is about changing eating habits as a whole.  Look at Jennifer Aniston for example. She is looking great and she has been on her diet for a looong time.  I really believe it is about changing for good. With exercise, it is about finding the kind of physical activity that appeals to you. My close friend swears by the meditative and weight loss effect of yoga, another says Pilates is the way to go, another boxes it out three to four time a week. I have found that, as long as you are not doing steroids or taking drugs, physical activity of any kind that gets you moving daily will do.

So, I am now in the process of revamping my diet and exercise plan.  I will post again about my new approach as I have had more than 6 months now to try different things out.

What are some of your suggestions for a good, healthy, sustainable diet and exercise program?

Fitness Update

Bathroom scale for tracking weight loss

Image on Pixabay

Shortly after New Years I made a post about my New Years resolution. It was that very unique resolution of losing some weight and getting in better shape.  Okay, well, maybe it wasn’t all that unique but it was an important resolution for me.  I have a very sedimentary job and am not nearly as active as I would like.  I have two herniated discs in my back that limits my activity and keeps me in a constant state of pain (anywhere from mild ache to a more severe sharp pain).  I am about 30 pounds overweight, I started the year at 220 lbs and my ideal weight is about 190 lbs (I am 6′ 6″ so 220 is not that bad but still more than I want).  In addition to losing some of the fat, I want to be in better cardio shape and strengthen my body to better deal with my back.  I want to avoid surgery for as long as possible and strengthening my muscles will help to take some of the pressure off my lower back.

How I’m going to reach my resolution to loose weight

My plan of attack was to count calories, ride my bike 3 days a week and do some strength training two days a week.  I took me a little while to get my bike out of the garage, get it in riding shape again and get my new bike rack installed but I am happy to report that a month into the new year, I have stuck to my plan and have lost 4 pounds so far.  Here are some more details for those who are interested:

Counting Calories

I am using a web site and iphone app called MyFitnessPal to track my calorie intake each day and stay at or under my alloted 2150 calories a day.  There were only 2 days this month where I went over and I tried to make up for it the next day.  You can see my profile and friend me if you use the same tool at MyFitnessPal

Bike Riding

I hadn’t ridden my bike in 7 years and it was a bit out of shape.  I took it to the local bike shop and got a tune-up.  I also bought a new bike for my wife and a bike rack so we could ride together and transport the bikes.  All this took me two weeks so I didn’t start riding until the third week of January.  In the last two weeks we have had nothing but snow and rain but I stuck to my commitment and rode 3 times in both weeks for 30 minutes on my lunch break.

Strength Training

I bought some dumbbells, an exercise ball and worked out an exercise schedule for Tuesday and Thursday (my non-biking days).  Last week was the first week where I actually did it but I am pretty happy with the routine I have worked out.  I am not crazy about the weights I bought, not enough weights in the set but it will work for now.

I realize that I won’t be able to keep up the pace of 1 pound per week but I do think I can reach my goal of 190 lbs by the end of the year and maintain it.  So, what about you?

Did you make any New Years Resolutions and have you stuck to them?

My Adventures in Biking!

Bicylcing is an activity the whole family can enjoyAdventures might not be the right word since I haven’t actually ridden a bike this year.  Actually, I haven’t ridden a bike in 8 or 9 years but I do own a mountain bike that I bought when I was still single and it is in great shape.  It’s the only vehicle we own that we can say is garage kept!  I know, pretty sad but as you can see by my last post, I am not in the best physical shape.  I am not in terrible shape, but not in the kind of shape I want to be in and I am going to do something about it this year.

I have always enjoyed riding my bike so I decided to break it out today, clean it up and take it to the local bike shop for a tune up (the brake cables needed to be checked and the tubes are shot from sitting so long).   I wanted to get it ready because we are hoping to turn bike riding into a regular family activity.  I have some friends that are really into mountain biking but I think that would be too jarring on my back so I am perfectly happy settling on trail and road riding.  If I can get into good enough shape and strengthen the muscles around my back, I may see what all this mountain bike stuff is about but I have to get into better shape first and foremost.

The kids got bikes for Christmas

My parents got my kids new bikes for Christmas, they were under our tree and from Santa Claus.  If you didn’t catch the video I posted a few weeks back, we have it up on YouTube at my kids first ride on their new bikes.  The only person in our household that doesn’t have a bike is my wife so I promised her, if we could afford it, we would buy her a bike after Christmas.  Luckily, we did end up with some nice Christmas bonuses this year so while we are at the bike shop, we picked up a new bike and helmet for her.  It’s not a brand new bike but it’s new to her and in really good shape.  We were able to save a nice chunk of money (almost $100) by getting her a used bike.  They had a used bike that she liked that would have been $269 but used we were able to get it for $179.  While we were there, we also picked up a new bike rack since we had no way of transporting all of our bikes without one.  It is amazing how things add up.  We got a great deal on the bike but ended up dropping more on the bike rack that we can’t use yet because I need to install a hitch on my car first.  It’s like anything in life, you think it’s going to cost you one thing and before you know it, you just spent twice as much as you wanted.

We aren’t in the best financial shape but things are getting better and I think the money was well spent.  My wife and I are both committed to losing weight and get into better shape this year and these bikes are going to be tools in that process.  Hopefully they will also be a lot of fun and help us build fond family memories but the main goal is to use them to get into shape.

Family bike rides

As long as the weather works in our favor (no rain), we plan on going for a family bike ride each weekend.  Of course, we won’t be able to get a lot of exercise riding with the kids but we can both take turns riding with a bit more vigor while one of us stays behind to hang with the the little ones.  We are also hoping to take the occasional unfettered bike ride with no kids if we can manage to co-ordinate it with a sitter or the grandparents.  In addition to all that, once I have the bike rack installed, I plan on taking my bike to work and going for a ride every day at lunch.  I am sure I can get in at least a 30 minute ride each day over my lunch break and every little bit of exercise helps.  I am adding this to my existing “getting into shape” plan that I posted about earlier this week.

Are you a bicyclist? Do you go riding as a family?

My New Years Resolution; Lose Weight and Get in Shape

Bathroom scale for tracking weight loss

Image on Pixabay

I know, nothing more cliche than a New Years Resolution to lose weight or get in better shape but that is what I am doing and I have a plan on how I am going to do it.

I am 6’6″ so I am a pretty tall guy but I am in bad shape.  I am overweight with 30 lbs to lose (I am 220 but would like to be closer to 190), I have two herniated discs in my back and for 4 or 5 years, didn’t do a lick of exercise.   With my old business, I worked 80 hours a week and sat in front of a computer all day.  That business failed and I no longer work those kind of hours but I still have a very sedimentary job.   Last year it was my goal to get into better shape and strengthen my body so I could alleviate some of the pain I have because of my back.  I purchased a Wii and the Wii fit and have been using that along with stretches, back exercises given to me by my doctor, dumbbells, push-ups and sit-ups to get back into shape.

The results?  I lost 10 pounds last year and although my back is still pretty bad, it’s better than it has been in 2 years.    I am slowly getting stronger but I wasn’t consistent enough with it to make the kind of difference I was looking for.  This year, I am going to double my efforts.  I am going to focus very hard on getting into better shape but I also want to change my eating habits and get closer to my target weight.

Losing the Weight Through Better Eating Habits

I hate the word “diet” and never liked the concept of it.  Dieting is an invitation to change your habits for a short period of time to achieve a result, only to go back to old habits that take you right back to where you were before.  Dieting is all I ever knew how to do.  It’s all you ever read about or come across when you try to lose weight.  I have always felt that eating in moderation was the best path but I have also jumped onto gimmicks or took extremes like depriving myself of all snack food which eventually leads me to jumping right off the wagon into a big pile of Frito’s while I gorge on the forbidden fruit and undo the progress I made.   Guilt follows, the cycle continues.

Counting Calories

Shortly before the new year, I had an epiphany.  I was reading ProBlogger, one of the blogs I subscribe to, and read an article from the founder of 344pounds.com.   It’s a blog that chronicles the weight loss efforts by a man named Shawn Tyler.  He was 344 pounds when he started on his journey and while he exercises regularly now, the primary method he used to lose the weight and keep it off is something so simple, it seems too easy to be true.  He counts his calories.  That’s it, that is the big secret and the thing that has clicked with me the most in all the years I have tried to drop and lose the weight.

The idea is simple and sound, if you take in less calories than you burn, you will lose weight.  It’s not a theory, it’s not an idea, it’s a fact.  Of course, nothing is that simple.  You can lose weight by eating nothing but Snickers as long as you take in less calories than you burn in a day but eating candy isn’t a balanced or healthy diet.  You still have to be smart about what you put into your body and give yourself the nutrients you need to stay healthy.  What appeals to me most is that you can track what you eat and not have to completely deprive yourself of the things you love.  I don’t have to give up Pizza but I might need to eat a light salad for lunch if I am going to have enough calories left at the end of the day to eat Pizza for dinner.  I can have a low calorie dinner and then take the kids out for ice cream as a desert without feeling guilty as long as I track my calories and either meet or stay under my daily goal.  I can enjoy a healthy snack in the evening while I try to unwind, as long as I haven’t eaten too much throughout the day.  With this technique, all of your options are open to you as long as you track and manage what you eat.

With today’s technology, tracking your calories has never been easier.  There are a lot of web sites and a few iphone apps that will let you do it.  The one I use is called MyFitnessPal.  I can update my “food diary” and whatever exercises I have done for the day through their web site or through my iphone.  They both sync together and allow me to plan out my meals as I go through the day.

The biggest challenge for me is my love of good craft beer.  I am not a Bud or Coors guy, I drink craft beer, brewed with quality ingredients from small breweries all over the US as well as overseas.  Unfortunately, craft beer has a lot of calories.  If I want to enjoy a beer or three at the end of the day, I need to eat smart and anticipate those calories before I consume them.  It’s a funny thing but the reality is, my love of craft beer is forcing me to be smart about what I eat throughout the day.  See, beer is good for you.

Getting into Better Shape

As I mentioned earlier, I went through a long period of sitting at a computer and I am just not as strong or toned as I want to be.  What makes it a bit more challenging is that I have two herniated disc’s in my back and if I overdo it, I end up in a lot of pain that lingers for awhile.  I used to jog and that kept me in shape but now that kind of impact is just too much for me.  I actually think that what I did during most of 2010 was a smart plan, I just need to be more consistent with it.  I also want to add more outdoor activities, fun things I can share and enjoy with my wife and kids while still getting exercise.  So, here is my plan for 2011:

  • Workout with dumbbells, push-ups and sit-ups 3 days a week.  I will create a specific plan for Monday, Wednesday and Friday so I know what muscles I should focus on each day.
  • Workout with the Wii Fit for 30 – 45 minutes 2 days a week.  On Tuesday’s and Thursday’s I will focus mostly on aerobics and cardiovascular exercises on the Wii.
  • Do my back stretches and back exercises every day.  It only takes 15 – 20 minutes and it’s an area I really need to focus on
  • On the weekends, I will either go for a good walk with my wife and kids or go on a bike ride.  My bike needs some work and my wife doesn’t have a bike but I am going to get my bike back to working order and get a bike for my wife so we can do this together.

Most Important Part of My Plan!

I told my wife about my plan and she jumped all over it.  It’s easy and doesn’t require us to give up a lot as long as we plan and are smart about what we are putting into our bodies.   We are going to tackle this New Years resolution together and there is nothing I can’t do when I have the support of my wife behind me!

Are you trying to loose weight or have lost weight in the past? What strategies do you use?

Get Fit in the New Year without Spending a Fortune

Fitness tips on a budget

Image from Pixabay

It’s the New Year again! Are you making any resolutions?

Some of the most popular ones are to:

  • Get organized
  • Try new things
  • Manage time better
  • Reduce debt
  • Lose weight and get fit

If the last two items are on your resolution list, then this post is for you.

Back in October I wrote a post titled Wanted: Motivation to Run. I explained how I have been terribly lazy as far as exercise concerned and I was thinking that if I could get into running, that would be a really great. However, I also confessed that I cannot stand running. Shortly after that post was published my cousin called to check-in with me to see how the running was going. Well, I hadn’t started yet.

Then a friend of mine who does run – and is training for a 1/2 marathon – read my post and invited me to run with her. As much as I wanted to, I just thought I might be out of my league running with someone who loves to run. Long story short, after a month long stint of doing yoga and the Wii Fit, I fell back into my old habit of not exercising but I know I need to find a way to get active and stick to it! So, even though I’m not big on New Year’s Resolutions I am going to give them a try this year — and one of the resolutions I am going to make is to lose a little weight and get fit.

I am really ready to get back into shape but I’m also trying to reduce debt, so I’m not ready to fork out the money for a gym membership just yet. It’s not that I don’t think they are worth the money, I just want to make sure that I have the time and motivation to take full advantage of everything a gym has to offer. So I decided to do some research to see what weight loss programs and exercise options are available that will motivate me, fit with my lifestyle and won’t cost a fortune.

Find Free Support

I was able to locate several free weight loss plans:

Spark People
(which I signed up for just to see what it was)
Biggest Loser League

I didn’t join all of these of course but they all say that they provide free recipes, meal plans, workout plans, calorie counts, community support and so much more. These types of websites can be highly motivating for many folks. I decided to check out Spark People and see how that one works for me. I’ll let you know what I think about it. The great thing is – since it’s free – if I don’t like it I can try one of the dozens of other free programs.

Keep Track of What You Eat

If you have a smartphone this can be pretty easy. All you need to do is find a calorie tracker app (there are a lot of free ones out there) and you are all set. This is a way not only to keep track of what you are putting into your body but you also find out how many calories you are consuming. It has been shown that simply writing down what you eat can help you lose weight.

Often times we (and by this I mean me) just eat mindlessly; while watching television, working on the computer, or snacking because we are bored. If you have to write down what you eat, you might think twice about picking up that brownie. I downloaded the diet and calorie counter through Spark People. It was free and I have already calculated my breakfast. I was very surprised that the banana I had was 207 calories! I am not trying to diet or anything now, I am simply keeping track of my diet and exercise so I know what I need to work on.

If you don’t have a smartphone you can keep track via your computer or just keep a notebook handy write down what you eat and figure out your calories at the end of the day. You can find calorie information on the web fairly easy or in a book.

Get Walking

This is a totally free good for you excercise plan. The only thing it may cost you is a good pair of walking shoes. The most simple thing for any of us to do is to just get walking. It takes a lot to get me out the door but once I’m outside (as long as it isn’t raining or freezing) I really enjoy myself. I just need to myself go!

(Via Amazon.com Only $7.99 at the time of posting)

Workout at Home

The thing with working out at home is that you can fit excercise into your schedule pretty easily. You just have to pick your program and pick your time. There are as lot of great DVDs out there that can help you get a workout and if you don’t think you can get a good workout at home, you are wrong. I have the Biggest Loser Weight Loss Yoga DVD and it really kicks my booty.

Eat Healthy

Sometimes folks think that eating healthy means spending a lot to do so — not true though. If you are couponing, purchasing fruit and veggies in season and you cut way back on eating out, you can eat right and even save money! Check out my post 10 Ways to Save on Your Grocery Bill these are tips that you can use in addition to couponing — or if you aren’t into coupons using these tips on their own will still help you save.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress and I would LOVE to hear some of your New Year’s Resolutions as well. If you are making a New Year’s resolution you may want to check aead my post from last year Tips for making your NewYear’s Relsolution Stick.

Good Luck and Happy New Year!!!

Are you trying to get fit next year? What is your plan?