Health and Happiness: One-ish Month Later

I’ve made fitness commitments in the past, but usually, after a month or two, I start to lose interest and soon enough, I’m back to eating like I normally do and not exercising very much (if at all). The last month and a half has been a pretty big change for me, but so far, I’m enjoying it. Let me tell you why.

Note: This is a follow-up to my previous post about finally getting around to getting in shape. I recommend starting there if you want to follow along.

First thing’s first

Y’all are awesome.

No, seriously. Thank you for reading this and for supporting me in accomplishing my goals. Since my last post, I’ve talked to literally dozens of people that I haven’t spoken to in years. Some have reached out simply to offer their support, while others have said that I inspired them to make changes of their own. One has checked in with me nearly weekly since my last post – thanks Rick! Even if I’m sometimes slow to respond on social media, I’m so grateful for all of the support.

For the people that have considered publicly committing to your goals, all I can say is that it’s worth it. Knowing that there’s someone in my corner really helps keep me on track because…

Changing habits is hard work

I’ve been reading a lot of James Clear’s writing about habit changes, specifically about how to form and maintain new habits. This post in particular was a big help for me. I had previously believed the common myth that forming new habits only takes 21 days, but it’s now pretty clear that a) that’s not the case and b) forming new habits is a marathon, not a sprint.

I’ve been on my new diet 41 days now give or take a day or three, and it’s still very easy for me to get off track and eat the wrong things. Willpower is a finite resource in a way, and when other parts of my life are in disarray for whatever reason, sometimes there’s just not enough willpower left over to stick with the diet. The two most chaotic parts of my life are my sleep level and my stress level, and when either of those are too extreme, I tend to not stick with the diet as closely as I should. I’ve learned to acknowledge this, limit the damage those days can cause (for instance, by ensuring that there is no junk food in the house), and fixing the root cause of that problem by sleeping more or doing less.

This is probably the singular most important thing change that I’ve made in the past month: prioritize a good night of sleep and make sure that my workload is reasonable.

Travel is challenging

In April, I was traveling for half of the month. I spent a week at Drupalcon and a week on-site with my employer in Sacramento. Those were the most difficult 10 days by far because I was sleep deprived and very stressed throughout both weeks in addition to being in an environment where the food that’s available to me is not as carefully curated as it is at home.

The reasons for the sleep deprivation and stress are not important, but figuring out how to appropriately deal with occasions where I’m not at 100% is. There was definitely no progress made on my personal goals during these trips, and if I’m going to make it a priority, I need to make it a priority no matter where I am or what I’m doing. Goals are meaningless if you only follow through on them when they’re easy.

Fortunately, I have some time to figure out how to overcome this challenge. I don’t have any travel scheduled for at least a month, so I’ll be able to put some time and thought into a solution.

A day on the diet

A lot of people have asked me what the overall diet plan looks like in practice. It’s a pretty loose set of guidelines, but even just looking at it, I’m sure you’ll see that it’s an enormous amount of food to eat every day. I’m never hungry.

Breakfast

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup of oatmeal
  • 1 fruit

Mid-morning snack

  • 1 fruit

Lunch

  • 6-8 oz. of meat
  • 1 cup of a one ingredient starch (rice, a baked potato, etc)
  • A salad or some other vegetable

Afternoon snack

One of the following:

Evening snack

One of the following:

Dinner

  • 12-16 oz. of meat
  • A salad or some other vegetable

Dessert

(yes, dessert! every night!)

1 cup of berries or 12 cup of sorbet

Water

Dr. Goglia is very adamant about water intake. On his advice, I’m shooting for 6 liters per day. I never really realized how dehydrated I was until pretty recently. Now, I feel like I’m always looking for a bathroom.

What about exercise?

I’ve actually been advised to start really slow. I’ll eventually be moving into more focused weight training and such, but for the time being, I’ve been asked to just walk for 30-60 minutes three times per week. In the next couple of weeks, I’ll start on a more regular exercise routine.

Progress

In short, Dr. Goglia knows his shit.

Overall, despite my challenges with travel, I’ve made good progress since I started. I’m down 15lbs (or 6.8 kilos for my friends that use a more reasonable system of measurement) and roughly 2% body fat. I’m about to drop a pant size, which is a nice first milestone to look forward to! Most of that progress happened in the first two weeks, but since then, the weight loss has been steady and satisfying. At this point, I have no reason to doubt that this progress will continue as long as I stick with the diet.

What’s next?

I’ll probably write another one of these posts in a month or so. I expect the next fitness post to be substantially shorter. I have no intention of running a fitness blog, so you can expect some more tech-focused posts in the near future.

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