Get moving, you lazy ass!
You’re the size of a house!
Ugly. Enough said.
Okay Shamu, easy there.
There’s only so much you can say to the people talking in your head to defend yourself when you do need to get up, get moving, and lose weight. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve taken up road biking and find that I love the freedom. The downside? All that quiet time means more shouting inside my skull. There’s nothing like doubt to turn you away from progress. The voices inside me have every criticism in the world for the things I do, but when I am already sensitive about an issue, their assault is proportionately magnified. I gained a lot of weight after the accident. Not right away, but slowly in little spurts corresponding to major personal setbacks suffered. Hospital stays. Surgeries. Withdrawals from school or jobs. I’ve tanked my way up to over 250 lbs and I feel like it’s time to start moving back down the scale. Slowly but surely I’m starting to make progress in the right direction. Here’s how I’m doing it:
myfitnesspal.com -Tracking what you eat can be eye-opening. You can pick up on all of your emotional eating sprees, those extra calories brought on by condiments and other small things you do to manipulate the taste of your food from its original state, and most importantly, the effects of portion size. I’m not a junk food eater, not that I don’t have a taste for sweets, but I just plain eat too much. If you start counting calories, it’s a small motivator to stay on track. Do I eat another oreo? No, I’ve already had three. What was the serving size again? If you own a smartphone, the android app is a fantastic way to keep tabs on every crumb of food going in your mouth. That way you know how many oreos you can stuff into your pie-hole without exceeding the recommended calorie intake for the day. And just about any other food. Millions of options on the database or plug in your own recipes. It is FREE. It’s just that easy. Psyche!
Fitbit – This handy little clip about the size of your thumb is a calibrated sensor that records your steps taken and stairs climbed each day. There’s nothing like a little self-competition every now and then. This is the tool for you, should you be the competitive type. Badges can be earned for daily and personal milestones to spur you on further. Can I walk 10,000 steps today? I know I can find out if I do! The website attached to the device (which plugs into your USB drive handily for charging and syncs up to 5 feet from the charger when plugged in) is a fantastic way to keep track of all your health stats. You can even find your sleep efficience by wearing the Fitbit on your wrist at night when you sleep (there’s an armband it attaches to included in the kit). What’s more exciting is the fact that myfitnesspal food diaries are shared to the Fitbit site, allowing you to combine forces for maximum efficiency. Yes, I know I sound like an advertisement. But honestly, try the darn thing and see for yourself. Tons of fun. You can pick one up from the website or your local Best Buy for around 100 dollars.
Endomondo – Also synching up with your Fitbit, this workout tracker records distance, speed, splits, and a handful of other helpful stats for each workout you do through the use of your smartphone. I love this for cycling. Need to know where you’re going next? Plan a route and the coach will keep you on course. Want to hit a certain mileage goal today? The coach can do that for you as well. Calories burned and hydration required after the workout are also calculated so you can maximize the results of your efforts and keep track of all of your workouts in one place. Years of competitive swimming tell me that keeping a log of workouts and how they felt aids you in safely upping the difficulty or length of your workouts and tells you when you need a little reprieve from vigorous exercise to recover. The need to better your personal best times, miles, or other stats will drive you right back to the road or gym more often than you might go without any sort of record of your progress. Again, it’s tons of fun and makes exercising a little more rewarding as far as instant gratification. You may not see your muscles toning or adding mass, but you can gauge your mile split’s improvement over the course of weeks or months to keep tabs of your progress. The free app is pretty full-featured but the pro app ($4.99) will give you some cool additional features. Or so the site says, I have yet to invest the five dollars in giving it a spin. I will let you all know how that goes when I do.
So these are the tools. What’s left? The effort and motivation to keep it going for the long haul. Everyone has the same roadblocks. Falling off the bandwagon for holidays or stress. Losing hope of a real tangible change. I’m hoping with these weapons I can engage in mass destruction of the fat surrounding my skinny self underneath. Not to mention the physical health benefits, the emotional benefit of exercise is overwhelming and I couldn’t adequately treat a review of the pertinent literature here. The moral of the story is that getting moving ups the important neurotransmitters in the brain that fuel your happiness. Endorphins are the common culprit but dopamine and serotonin play roles as well. So get out there. For your health, and your health. After all, there’s nothing crazier than wasting your life away on the couch watching the world pass by.