Monday, 17 February 2014

Changing Mindset: Observations

I've always been very aware that the main reason I never lost weight, was because I was eating too much and not exercising enough (read, at all). When I started going to the gym back in November, it was after I'd lost a couple of lbs already and my mindset was getting curious to know what kind of results I'd achieve if I added some exercise into the mix.

Initially my main purpose in going to the gym was to help me lose weight faster, however the longer I've spent on this journey, the more I'm appreciating that what I'm doing is a complete lifestyle change. It's no longer about the numbers on the scale, but about how I'm feeling. It's not about eating less, it's about eating the right fuel for my body to achieve what I want to achieve.

Nowadays there are three main reasons why I workout 5 mornings a week:

1) To get fitter and improve my overall health
2) Because I love the endorphin high it gives me for the rest of the day
3) Because it means I can eat even more!

I've gone from not being able to run at all, to doing 10-20 minute non-stop runs (thanks to the c25k programme, 3 times per week). The prospect of running 5k now seems achievable and running for the train these days doesn't make me break into a sweat or feel out of breath! After starting with baby weights, I'm really looking forward to lifting heavier as I progress with Stronglifts.

I get to my desk feeling full of energy and really positive for the rest of the day. Now I really notice the difference when I've not worked out in the morning and particularly at the weekend when P and I currently spend the majority of our days playing EVE Online...

I currently aim for a total net intake of 1350 calories* (1350 calories consumed after accounting for any exercise) to give me an average loss of around 1lb per week. If I exercise more, that means I get to eat more (so long as it works with my macro nutrient proportions) in order to keep the net intake correct - win!

I'm paying more attention to the proportions of macro nutrients (carbs, protein and fat) that I'm eating - not religiously, but they are goals I'm aiming for.

I'm eating less processed food and more whole grains, beans and lean meats, although that doesn't stop me from having an occasional blow out on pizza or Chinese, or from having my Friday bacon and mushroom sarnie.

P also tells me that not only is my figure looking much more curvy in the right places, but my skin is looking brighter and feels smoother as well - this is also apparent on my upper arms where I have mild keratosis pilaris, but these days they seem to be smoother as too.

What were your initial reasons for starting to workout?
Why (and how) do you workout now?

* I am only a dinky 5'2" and with a very sedentary, desk-based lifestyle, other than my current 5 workout sessions per week. I work on a TDEE - 25% basis for weight loss, with my TDEE being in the region of 1800. I've been losing on average, 1lb per week.

Today's Workout (c25k W6D2 - still out of sync, GRR!!):
Walking (brisk, 3.8 mph) = 16 minutes (6, 3, 7)
Running (slow, 5.2 mph) = 20 minutes (10, 10)
Stationery Bike (moderate, 100+ rpm) = 17 minutes


  1. That sounds great. It's amazing how much better you feel when you eat better and get some exercise.

    My initial reason for getting in shape was the fact that I have prolapsed discs in my lower spine. Two years ago I couldn't stand up for more than 3 minutes before the pain kicked in and my toes, feet and legs progressively became numb. The only place I would feel comfortable and pain free was in bed.

    I'm lucky enough to have a private medical healthcare plan as part of my package at work so I went back to see the surgeon that I had seen 3 years prior. He gave me the bad news that if something didn't happen I would just not be able to get out of bed one day. He suggested an injection into my spine which I didn't want to do.

    I started to "eat better", I didn't want to call it a "diet" because I think that's a really negative word. I had already been doing Pilates once a week to help keep myself mobile so I carried on with that for a few months. By summer 2012 I had lost a fair amount of weight but was still in pain — the pain was stopping me from getting myself to the next level. Eventually, I went into hospital for the cortisone injection into my spine. It was under general anesthetic and I was pretty scared, to be honest. I did it and was really pleased because as soon as I was able to stand again (2 hours after the op) there was no pain and no numbness.

    However, the cortisone doesn't "fix" anything... all it does is reduce inflamation. I knew the cortisone would last me from 2 – 6 months so I had to make the most of it. I added in some cardio to get more weight off and continued the Pilates (now twice a week). My overall fitness increased and I could feel my core getting much stronger — which is exactly what I needed to keep everything in check in my lower back.

    Two years on I am happy to say that I very, very rarely (if at all?) have any pain or numbness. I lost 52 pounds and have added some muscle. I'm working out on 4 to 5 days a week and really enjoying it. I think I'm fitter now than I was 20 years ago. I don't really see myself slipping back to my old ways now, I have a completely different lifestyle and my health really depends on keeping this going.

  2. That's awesome Nick, and isn't it amazing how many health problems are 'solved' by actually working out and living more healthily. Your story is very inspiring! I've not had gout or an IBS flare up since last summer. And more the the point, and enjoying life more too :)