A Healthy Life
Let me start out my thinking about goals for a healthier life with a statement: I am never going to be a 145-pound vegan who shops exclusively at Whole Foods. It is not who I am (if it is who you are that is cool; you be you). I like to eat meat, I’m OK with less. I’m happy being a big guy, but maybe not quite so big. We don’t have a Whole Foods near us and we don’t make enough money to shop exclusively. So where does that leave
me. How do I live a healthier life? I spent a lot of time agonizing about this in the past (see GOAL298). I’m going to agonize some more. So what are my goals in a healthier life.
Lose 100 pounds: This essentially this was the only goal of my last plan, and the first goal of the of this one. The weight is the obvious place to start. It has been an issue most of my life, and even more so now. Losing 100 pounds is where to start. If I can do that, get my weight under control, I can later focus on avoiding the creeping weight gain that got me into this mess in the first place. Here I am in 2016, 40 years old and still almost the same starting point I was in 2013. It is a hard and terrible thing to lose that much weight. But shedding the pounds is what needs to happen. Ideally I would love to moderation the weight away, slight changes in eating and exercise until I’m a model Adonis. But that isn’t going to happen. It is going to be a struggle. This is what I’m going to try to do to lose 100 pounds.
- Break it down into bite size hunks. – if I think about 100 pounds in year it is daunting, but thinking about 2 pounds a week doesn’t sound bad. Setting the 2-pound mark as achievable mark, I can start to think about goals for months down the road. It is about fighting the little fight to win the big war.
- Set up targets – using the bench mark I can set some target weights. They should be set at a medium distance, five weeks. Five weeks seems like an odd length of time, but it translates to 10 pound targets, 10% of the ultimate goal. These targets will help me keep on track. By setting them at five weeks, if I have a bad day or a bad week I can still keep on track, still make the target.
- Track it – keeping a log of my weight will keep me on task. I’ve made a spread sheet that keeps track of my daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals. I’ve had a lot of internal debate about the usefulness of the scale as a motivator. It is hard to see large numbers come up, and harder to see when I’ve backtracked. But in the end hiding from the scale is counterproductive. Food has weight and weight has consequence. The scale just confirms what you know already, that you’ve made good choices or poor. By tracking I create self-accountability. I’ve tried tracking my diet using an app (My Fitness Plan) but I get annoyed by it pretty early on. It might help eventually but for the beginning it is just going to be too much
- Make good food decisions – I know what healthy food looks like. Unfortunately, I also know what healthy food tastes like. If you are going to tell
me that broccoli tastes better than a little Debbie, you can go F yourself – unless you are Katie who still currently and hopefully forever believes that raw broccoli is the best thing even. The idea is to just try to make better choices. I know I’m going to make the occasional bad choice, but perhaps after a bit I’ll get on a roll and those slip ups will become further apart.
- Find some buy-in – Success will require that I am committed, but if I can bring some friends along that will be better; from Sara and siblings, parents and other family and friends. If other people get on board, even if it is just for the walking or the avoiding soda or if it is for the whole thing, it will be easier. Weight loss is a private thing, but getting in better shape can be a boon to the whole group. The Berninger Family Turkey Trot in 2013 was a great example. Maybe we can do that again, bring a little healthy competition into play. The other thing that might be good is to talk about the food we eat, exchange recipes when we find something that is healthy and moderately tasty.
- Stop just eating shit – I don’t mean I’m going anorexic, but rather I’m going to be more mindful of what I shove down my throat. Much of my weight gains have come from fast food and soda. For the foreseeable future I’m not going to eat any fast food or drink any regular pop. I’m not trying to deny myself specific foods. I can still eat a cheeseburger, just not one I picked up in a drive-thru and shoved down my gullet on the car ride. This is harder than it seems. There are times when I feel physically drawn into fast food places. I recently realized that when I’m anxious or worried or stressed I ameliorate those feelings by eating fast food. Since I know that it is bad for me, it creates this bad but familiar feeling, which I can use to draw focus away from those other feelings. That is both stupid and self-destructive, so I’m going to stop it. No fast food. No Little Debbie or their ilk. No bags of candy.
- Create Fun Incentives – Sometimes I need a little carrot to go along with the stick. So I’m going to incentivize my weight loss. By creating incentives for each target along the way can help me push toward each goal. By putting this into place it makes me work for things I want. I know that these are my incentives, but if you have suggestions let me know.
10# new T-shirt of my choice
20# new fish tank set up with angelfish
30# new running shoes
40# new jeans (I’ll need them)
50# new tattoo
60# new set of Legos
70# new jeans (probably need them here too)
80# wood for building project
90# trip to a State I’ve never be to before.
100# surprise (AKA I don’t know what but it will be fun)
- Create Disincentives* – (* this is just a thought. Of all the things to try this will likely be the least likely to be implemented) First was the carrot and now the stick. While the incentives are good and the ultimate goal is worthwhile, sometimes another level is needed. The level will be having to do things I don’t wish to do because I didn’t make the goal. I’m going to try to make them fun and healthy, but still things I don’t like. These will be based on the my weekly, monthly, 6 month, and one-year bench marks.
- Miss 5wk target: Must eat salad as a meal once a day until back on track
Miss 2nd consecutive 5wk target: Salad meals 10x per week until back on track
Miss 3rd target: Must be a vegetarian until target met
*salad does not include giant taco salads or Cobb salads which contain more calories than the meals they would replace. **dining out includes pizza.
- Miss 5wk target: Must eat salad as a meal once a day until back on track
- Be flexible and adjustable – There is a built in understanding in the goals that after an initial loss, the rate of loss slows down. If I could sustain 3.5 pounds per week that would equate to a 182 pounds lost. While that would be awesome, and put me closer to “ideal” weight, it is not really reasonable. So as weight loss starts to go more slowly, targets can be adjusted. This may prevent me from being discouraged when/if my weight loss plateaus for a while or there are some short term gains. And if something is working go with it. It does not matter if it was part of the plan or not; if it works go for it. And if none of this shit works, it is OK to scrap it. The idea is to lose the weight, and I don’t give two monkey farts how that happens.
So back to the plan for a healthier life:
Transition into a healthier lifestyle: my bad habits have taken a long time to develop, and may take a long time to break. Going cold turkey and trying to change everything all at once is a very easy way to give up on the whole process. Adopt small change, keep it up, adopt some more. I’m not suddenly going to eat nothing but kale and salmon; I’m not going to start running 5k a day. But by constantly working and being mindful of these better options I can build up to those things.
Find time to exercise: exercise is good and sometimes fun, but like finding time to be creative, it is hard to fit it in to our schedule. I’m not a gym guy, plus at the moment there isn’t one close that I would join. Exercise can be anything, but will likely to be walking at least at first. I’m planning on writing a whole section on a Physically active life so maybe I’ll leave the actual exercise planning to that section of GOGOBEAR.
Modern medicine can help: The point here is not that I need drugs or medical attention, but that I should not avoid it. When something is wrong I should see the proper qualified person to help me. It may get to the point where I want to see a nutritionist or an orthopedist to make sure I’m not going to destroy myself following this approach. Doctors are often helpful medical situations. Some of this is already underway with the CPAP machine and the potential for better sleep. Well, perhaps not swimmingly, but I realize how important quality sleep is to a healthy life and I’m going to do everything I can to make it work. I have sleep apnea and I snore and breathe weird. Hopefully in the coming year I can make an effort to change that (losing weight will also help). Just the idea that I should see a doctor on a semi-regular basis to check for the things that could impact my health (cholesterol, heart and colon issues based on family history). The weight loss may prevent some of these things from happening in the future.
Eat and Serve healthier food: Thanks to Sara I already eat much better than I ever did when I was single. She is a great cook and is really cognizant of the ingredients she uses and tries to plan nice healthy meals. This helps me so much, having a partner who is willing to put the extra effort forth to keep us all healthy. Additionally, I need to think about the food I eat. It was part of GOAL298, but it needs to be reiterated: I am accountable for the things I eat. I want to do three things over this year: 1. No sugar soda; 2. No fast food; 3. No candy, no Little Debbie’s. I know I need to eat more salads, but I still don’t like it. And while I don’t think that denying myself things is the way to modify behavior in the long run, in the short term and for this year it must be done to modulate the behavior. The soda thing hasn’t been as big a problem lately, but it goes along with the rest. Eating fast food has been a problem for a while. I need to remember that eating fast food is not good for me and it is a choice, a conscious choice I am making to eat poorly. They don’t just show up at my house, I have to physically drive there and as such I must chose not to do so. If I can do it for a year, it will help break the cycle. It will also keep Katie eating healthier as she grows up. I won’t matter much this year, but in years to come it will matter greatly.
That is as much as I can write about being healthy. I think if I can accomplish some or all of these goals, I’ll be pretty far along to having a healthy life.
If you have read this far, your reward is that you can now publically admonish me in any way you see fit if I am not living up the objectives set forth so far.