For this check-in, I wanted to take some time to acknowledge the progress I've made and document the changes that went into it. Not so much for other people (although the beauty of no comments and no traffic analytics allows me to imagine a vast audience waiting for each and every update... shhhyeah right!) but for myself. To remind future me of the work that was put in.
From a numbers point of view, I've dropped 30 lbs. since January 1st. An impressive number only shadowed by the COVID and post-rehab weight I had put on in 2020. But "a pound is a pound, the world around" and I am pleased with the progress. I've cut 7% off my body fat. Increased my muscle mass by 7%. Even increased my bone density a titch. My blood pressure has dropped to a high-normal range. It still could use a few points shaved off but my doctor is almost ready to take me off Lisinopril.
I did this by improving the food I ate, improving how and when I ate that food, not feeling hungry, getting off my ass and moving (thanks, Apple Watch) and (very recently) adding strength training into the mix.
So, how does a 53 year old man in bad shape and poor health make this happen? Today, I'll list out the "pre-work" I did as I started this journey, and tomorrow, I will follow up with some specifics.
Check Your Head!
Get some therapy. Start to address those demons that have been hounding you. Figure out the motivations behind your actions. This plan is not so much a diet plan or an exercise plan but a live a happy life plan. None of the following advice will work without first working on your inner core.
See a Doctor
While you get your brain tuned up, make sure you have the right ingredients going in to your body. In my case this was meds to address insomnia, anxiety, and depression. Also, get your testosterone checked. As men, our levels naturally go down as we age, but mine were at shockingly low levels. Like kindergarten little girl levels. Besides the obvious benefits, low testosterone is correlated with belly fat. Plus do not underestimate the mental benefits you get. If you're embarrased, for some reason, there are web-based providers that will do everything an in person visit will do, and you get it sent straight to your door.
See a Dentist
Don't ask me why, but dental hygiene was not a priority in my family. Sure, I went to the dentist and all that, but my parent's never modeled good behavior for me. It's no surprise that they both had major dental work in their 40s and 50's. It took two cracked molars and a dentist that gave zero fucks about coddling me to get me on the four year journey that is in its last stretch this summer. I had bad teeth, a cross bite that destroyed all the previous work I had done, and a couple of holes where teeth had been extracted. I ended up getting a sinus lift, periodontal gum and bone surgery, braces, and a soon to be full set of veneers. I can't tell you the pleasure I get biting into some food and not worrying about pain or stuck food, nor the ease in which I smile now because I'm not embarrased as fuck about my teeth.
Or at least cut it way down. I'm not gonna preach sobriety at anybody. For me, it was a problem that leeched into every area of my life, including my health, willpower, confidence, anxiety... I could go on. From a purely pragmatic lens, it is empty calories that lowers your inhibitions and leads to bad decisions, including poor food choices.
I made an agreement with myself that this wasn't going to be a program or a phase or something that I did for a set span of time. The changes I wanted to make would be for life - not only the duration of it, but the extension of it and the enjoyment of it. So, as we say at Nike, "There is no finish line". I'm not shooting for beach season, or Hot Nerd Summer, or looking good for Christmas photos. I'm making changes that I can live with, incrementally, that will improve the quality of life.
I think we've all had the experience of going on a diet, buying a shit ton of vegetables and thinking "Ok - I'll eat healthy now!" only to find you don't make it a week without regressing. Hell, if you don't eat vegetables now, what makes you think you can know, overnight, which ones you like, how to prepare them, what to eat them with. It takes time and patience to learn these things. And over time, your tastes will change. If you would have told me six months ago that I am basically a day-time vegan now who forgoes meat altogether a couple nights a week and opts for green vegetables instead of potatoes as a side, I'd say shoot me. But it happens. Slowly. With time and patience.
So that's it. That was the pre-game training I did to start this journey. Yep - just to start it. But all that work is important, crucial even, to having a bit of success later on.