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A healthier me

Exactly a year ago, I felt unhealthy.

Actually I was very unhealthy. I wasn’t sleeping well. Stress level was too high. My workout routine was ad hoc, at best. I could tell I was overweight.

I bought a scale, took a breath and weighed myself. 176lbs. The heaviest I’ve ever been.

Jesus. 

I’m only 5’7″ so this was clearly a problem.

Counting calories. 

I knew I had to change my nutrition, so I downloaded the app LoseIt and stuck it on my home page. The app prompts you for a goal weight. I entered 155lbs. I figured that was a good target. A few blogs and websites seemed to back it up based on my age and height.

LoseIt then asks, how aggressive do you want to lose the weight, e.g. 1/2lb a week, 1lb a week or more. I moved the slider to 1lb a week. The app told me I could eat 1700 calories a day. It’s easy to underestimate calories in your food, so I end up targeting 1600 calories per day.

And that’s what I did. I started counting my calories after each meals, every day. I still do this.

I lost the first 5 pounds very quickly. Most of it was water but then a few more pounds came off and the emotional feedback felt incredible.

Yet I knew that 1600 calories was going to be tough to sustain. So the best way to eat more than 1600, was to add a daily exercise routine.

Daily exercise. 

My workout routine has basically been fairly consistent since I started this journey a year ago.

I get cardio each day from running or biking or tennis. I do weights and core workouts on alternating days (in combination with a long walk). My primary goal is to burn 400 calories a day. This number comes from an Apple Watch connected to a Polar H10. I noticed Apple Watch overestimates workout calories burned, so I take that into account and set my workout target for 450 calories.

Daily weigh in. 

I weigh myself every morning. This is a critical part of my process. Since I know I’m going to weigh myself, it keeps me mentally in check thoughout the day. It also gives me concrete feedback if I’m eating more than I thought and/or didn’t workout as efficiently as I hoped the prior day.

Daily meditation. 

Mediation has become increasingly more important to me and my health. I make it a priority to meditate 15 minutes or more each day. Sometimes I use the 10% Happier app if I’m looking for guided meditation, otherwise I just set a timer on my watch. Sometimes I sit first thing in the morning. Or I walk to a local church and sit. Or at home before bed. But I sit each day.

My wife and I have taken three workshops at Cambridge Insight Mediation Center. Each workshop is a weekly 2 hour meditation class, which is combination of mindful meditation and instruction. I highly recommend CIMC if you live in the Boston/Cambridge area. I’m working through a stack of meditation related books on my bedside table. My favorite so far is Mindfulness by Joseph Goldstein.

Sleep.

Getting enough sleep is critical for a healthy lifestyle and continues to be my biggest challenge. I have recently started wearing an Oura Ring and it has been helpful. I have improved from 5 hours a night to over 6.5 hours. My goal is 7 hours of sleep.

Thoughts. 

I reached my weight loss goal in 4 months. And I’ve been in maintenance mode for the last 8 months. I think each of these five areas — nutrition, exercise, daily weigh ins, mediation and sleep — are the essential things I need to keep this healthy thing going.

I am not pretending to be an expert on any of this but several folks have asked me what worked for me so I wanted to share this in a post. I’m grateful for my health and I hope I can keep this going.

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PS: apps & devices I’m using:

Apps: Apple Health, Health Mate, LoseIt, 10% Happier, Seven, Oura, Mirror

Hardware: Mirror, Peloton, Withings Scale, Apple Watch, Polar H10, kettle bells, misc dumbbells,