I learned a long time ago that I’m not a New Year’s resolution person. While the turning of the year is a great time for self-reflection, for me to set a challenging goal like weight loss I need a pressing need, not just an arbitrary start date.
But in the spring of this year I got my pressing need and started a New Year’s-style weight loss resolution. My wife and I both discovered medical reasons to lose weight (elevated blood pressure for me). Plus, I was barely under 200 pounds (as in 199.8), so it was high time to get at it. So together my wife and I have been losing weight over the last 6 months. As of this writing I’m down almost 20 pounds and my wife is down some, too, so overall I’d say we’ve been pretty successful. Here’s what went right and what went wrong this year as we worked to lose weight.
Our plan was simple: adjust what and how much we ate, eat at home more, and exercise regularly. Nothing revolutionary or cutting-edge – just old-fashioned diet and exercise, the time-tested way to shed some pounds.
While family responsibilities can make exercise difficult (more on that later), it’s also a great motivation. In my wife I have a teammate, someone who works closely with me on our shared New Year’s-style resolution. We encourage each other and watch out for each other. Without her support I wouldn’t have lost the weight I have.
My wife and I also came up with a way to enjoy a big meal without feeling guilty. Every weekend we have a “bad” meal where we eat whatever we want. It gives us something to look forward to. That “bad” meal unexpectedly became a symbol of our progress – pretty quickly we couldn’t eat as much at a buffet as we used to. We also allow for extra “bad” meals once or twice a month, but only if we agree to it beforehand.
I also have a 1-year-old son, Nathan. He keeps me busy just keeping up with him, so unless he’s asleep I can’t do much sitting around. But more than that I want to be there for him as long as I can, so Nathan represents a strong motivation. In an odd way my son also represents a goal: it’d be nice for me to lose what he weighs (about 25 pounds right now). He sets a nice, moving target. I haven’t caught him yet, but I’m getting closer.
Teamwork in my case also involves someone I’ve never met. I found a nice podcast that gave me some ideas to help me get more out of my workouts. Get-Fit Guy’s podcast helped me learn more about topics like combining cardio and weight-lifting and good eating habits before and after workouts. Episodes 2, 3, 8, and 14 are especially good.
Bumps in the Road
My wife and I were about a week into our New Year’s-style weight-loss resolution when I sprained my ankle. I had to use a cane for about 10 days and couldn’t use the ankle for more than rehab exercises for several weeks. The injury was depressing at first, but later I realized that it gave me an opportunity to focus on the nutrition side of weight loss. I managed to lose a little weight while my ankle healed, and that gave me confidence in our nutrition plan.
The last time I lost a lot of weight I was single, so I could work out just about any time I wanted to. I used a gym at work and managed to work out 4 or 5 times a week. With a family I have lots of time commitments, and my early start at work means exercising in the morning isn’t attractive at all. So my gym time is during the weekend whenever I can make time. I do a little working out at home, but the focus of a gym and the lack of distractions makes it the best place for me to exercise. That means I usually don’t work out more than twice a week, but it does help me focus on making my workouts as productive as possible.
So as the end of the year approaches, my wife and I doing pretty well on our New Year’s-style weight-loss resolution. Old-fashioned diet and exercise really do work, and if you’re willing to put in the effort and gain the discipline you need, you really can improve your fitness and live a healthier life.