I'm not going to go to deep into my personal situation, as I've covered that already. I'm going to share what I try to do each day to control the two important aspects of wellness for me, nutrition and exercise.
On the nutrition front, I've lost almost 60 pounds over the last 18 months by making some fundamental changes in what I eat and when I eat it. Now, I'll be totally honest and tell you that this is one area where I continually struggle. I am not always (hardly ever) 100% faithful to the process, but when I am I know it works. The process itself is fairly simple in theory. Eat less calories than you burn, eat often enough that you never get overly hungry and avoid poisons such as sugar and processed foods.
The best way to do this is to use some sort of nutrition diary. When I first started I used the Livestrong website, but I've since switched to MyFitnessPal for tracking what I eat. Its important to track everything you put in your mouth when you are starting out because most people fail for lack of knowledge as much as for lack of effort. I find that I do best when I eat 5 times a day. A mid morning snack helps me from being too hungry at lunch time. A late afternoon snack helps me from being too hungry at dinner time. Why is that important? Because when I get too hungry, that's when I make bad eating decisions. The key to good nutrition is making good decisions each and every time you're faced with the question of what to eat. I found that for me, making the right decision is a lot easier when I'm not overly hungry.
So my key nutrition points
- Avoid sugars and processed foods
- Eat 5 times a day
- Be aware of the value of everything you put in your mouth
Now the other half of the equation is exercise. Motivation and accountability are always the parts that I've struggled with when it comes to exercise. When I was a kid involved in sports, those things were easy, because playing soccer or basketball was fun and you had practice every day after school so you were always in shape. As an adult, it wasn't as easy.
For motivation I found myself a goal. At first it was to run a 5K race. At the moment my goal is a half marathon. The goal gives you that lingering thought at the back of your mind to incent you to get out of bed, to lace up your shoes and get moving. In addition, I made my goal public. By announcing it to friends and family I knew they'd be asking me about it and it gave me even more motivation to keep at it. Nobody likes to explain why they didn't reach a goal that they've announced.
I took the accountability step one further and started this blog. At first I wrote about all of my workouts and tried to believe that people actually read it. I joined some online communities that turned out to be very supportive. Its great to find other people who have gone through the same struggles you are, who can help provide support and understanding. I joined the community at Runnersworld.com and then later found a Twitter group called #runchat. Through these two groups I found a lot of great support and advice to help me maintain my motivation and achieve success.
Finally, I use a system to track my progress. There are several websites that provide this type of tracking. Dailymile.com and strava.com are two I use regularly. They take the data off of my gps watch allow me to track it and share it with my friends. I can look back at previous performances and set long term goals, such as the goal I'm about to achieve, to run 500 miles in 2012.
My key exercise points
- set a goal for motivation
- share your goal with others for accountability and support
- track your progress
- Have Fun!
I'm not perfect and I have a long way to go in these areas, but following these points have really helped me make a ton of progress over the last year and a half.