Five Fitness Hacks to Lose 50 Pounds

Weight Loss

It’s the Super Bowl Sunday. Woooohoooo! So as a result nobody is going to read this, but it’s a-okay! I have to post when I have time, and right now I have thirty minutes before my scheduled run (more on the schedule thing later). *Also, I have no idea if these hacks will help you lose 50 pounds. I just needed a catchy headline. Also, there are six hacks listed, not five. But I wanted to have the first two words start with an ‘F’. #worstheadlineever

But, seriously, this is some of the stuff that helped me get in better shape over the past two years. And, well, I did lose about 50 pounds too. Though I’m still not brave enough to post before/after pictures yet.

Maybe someone will find this helpful after the nachos, Thin Mints (it’s Girl Scout cookie season!) and beer (not in that order, please! Thin Mints first, always the Thin Mints first people).

Over the last few years, I have become pretty fanatical about creating and living in a fitness regimen. It’s how I get my stuff to work for me; I’ve also fallen off the wagon more than a few times as well, so I’ve learned what helps keep me tracking and on-plan. Here are a few things that have helped me move closer towards my fitness goals, and perhaps there’s something in here that might help you as well.

1. Set quarterly goals, and tie it to metrics that you can use to evaluate your progress: I use body fat testing quarterly to monitor my progress to a targeted percentage, and then usually throw in some particular running event. I calendar it at least 90-days out for the BF testing. For my runs, I usually plan these out for the next year–so I’ve everything lined up for all of 2014.

Doubt it? My next body fat test is scheduled for Sunday, February 23d at 11:30am. I booked it two months ago, and I do this every 90-days. It’s the only way I can really track my progress. Though I use a pinch test and visual on vascularity (which I have little of, unfortunately, but enough to know how I’m doing) to track my progress week to week. I step on a scale daily, but more out of habit and care far less about the weight and much more about the percent of body fat.

2. Schedule your shit stuff: in my experience, you have to do this. Otherwise it will almost ALWAYS get bumped. And for optimal adherence, it’s  likely you have to do it in the morning. Two years ago I started by working out 3x/week, and that wasn’t easy–time, discipline, and fitness wise. Now, I probably workout 6-8x/week, and I schedule it pretty rigorously. Honor your fitness schedule, it’s not too much to give yourself. A one hour workout is 4% of your day. It will make you more effective, and generally speaking for every hour you workout you get two hours of your life back. I read that on google somewhere, so it must be true. And it just sounds about right.

Yes, there will always be something that seems to conflict with your workout–including your mood. Tough, gotta move past it (this is what I tell myself all the time). Every Sunday I sit down and plan my professional and personal week; on the fitness side, the CrossFit workouts are easy to schedule–every M/W/F early in the AM. But then I often schedule my running/biking/swimming in during the other four days, depending on whether I’m traveling or what my schedule is like. And if my schedule changes mid-week, then I revise to ensure I get the fitness stuff in.

I used to just try to let my fitness happen when time allowed. That didn’t work so well. So now I schedule it. Someone is invariably saying to themselves, “Man, I don’t have time…I just don’t have time.” I said that for years. Yeah, you do have time. Some weeks I easily cover 80+ hours a week (this is not every week, but never is there a 40-hour week either), and I could still use the time excuse to justify missing workouts. You have to make the time, and you have to give up something else to get the time. This is why I don’t watch TV. I didn’t even know the San Francisco 49’ers were in the playoffs until 48-hours before their last game. How is that possible? If I care about something I’m going to make it happen. If I don’t care about something, then I’m not even going to give it ten minutes of distraction. Staying up on football each week is a distraction from the things I care about getting done, professionally and personally.

Ultimately, controlling the schedule is the primary reason why I force myself to do the majority of my workouts in the AM–it’s easier to control your schedule before the day gets in full swing. Incidentally, I am not a morning person. I’d far rather crank my life out until 2 or 3am–I actually think I get into the zone between midnight and 3am. But, alas, I am not a screenwriter and so I have to adjust.

Here is what I have found about being an early riser: it often sucks waking up at 4:30-5:30am daily (but I usually sleep in until about 6:30am or 7am on the weekends). Especially if you just went to bed a few hours earlier.

However, it sucks far more to be fat and out of shape. So I finally chose the former. Plus, your body adjusts. After doing this for nearly a year I hardly need an alarm.

3. Meal Prep: meal prep is the Ford Model T equivalent to fitness. Trying to cook or prepare each meal when it’s time to do so is sooooo inefficient. So if you have the time to do this, great. And, I LOVE cooking. So while I’m totally stoked and find it mildly therapeutic to be in the kitchen cooking whilst listening to Johnny Cash, that time is taken from somewhere else. So I leave cooking to when I have time to enjoy it, and want something other than a pre-prepped meal.

Enter the Model T of preparing food efficiently. You have to automate it. Every Sunday I spend about 90-minutes in the kitchen, and I do all my meal prep for the week. I have 4-5 things that I cook each week, they’re total staples. I’ll crank it all out, put it away in individual containers, and that’s most of my food for the week. In the next week or two I’ll do a post on my 4-5 staple meals and my go-to fast meals or nutrition hacks that work for me. But this isn’t rocket science either. I found most of my meals from reading what other people do for their meal prep, and just picked what works best for me.

Meal prep isn’t only more efficient, but by having something healthy prepared and ready to go will help when you’re just spent and need kCals, and it’s easy to grab for something you shouldn’t which a prepared meal will help avoid. Plus, I try to keep anything unhealthy out of the kitchen–too tempting otherwise.

4. Alcohol: kill it. Why? It’s just inefficient and full of empty calories. Plus alcohol makes me sleepy. And quite hilarious. However, given that I’m already one of the funniest people I know, it’s better that I keep the competition even so the rest of you stand a fighting chance. 😉

Plus my body just runs cleaner when I’m off alcohol (right now, somewhere in Florida there is a woman named Carol who is doing backflips reading this #4 item…Yes mom, I knew you would be happy about this!). I took a month hiatus altogether from drinking recently and felt great. I love beer as much as the next truck driver (this is totally an inside family joke, but I can’t resist), and I’ve decided to pretty much stay off alcohol for the foreseeable future and leave it only for rare occurrences.

By the way, if someone told me to do this a year ago I would’ve never considered it. So all this stuff didn’t happen to me at once, like most things it takes time to dial in what works for you vs. others, and how far in you want to go.

5. HIIT training (or find your workout thing): Check it out, High Intensity Impact Training. Google it, basically short workout bursts. But the key is to find some form of serious physical activity that works for you. What I love might not be your thing, but the thing each of us have to do is figure out what our thing is.

So whether it’s running, CrossFitting, weight lifting, power walking, yoga, whatever, you’ve gotta find your thing. But one element that has really helped me is finding something with a class or group that has a schedule and offers me some accountability.

It’s one of the (many) great things about CrossFit and why I love it so much. While I want to go to my classes, I also feel somewhat obligated. Though that’s not the same mindset I have with my other workouts, especially running.

You know how some people like to get ready to go out for the night and they want the bathroom and bedroom to themselves, it’s like their “me” time? They don’t want any intrusions or fighting over the sink?

That’s like me with running.

If we run together, I must really really like you. Or feel highly obligated. 🙂

6. Cheat Meals: I try eat clean for nearly every meal (again, I fall off the wagon too), and some of you know that I’m a huge fan of the Paleo diet (meal plan, way of eating, lifestyle, however it’s supposed to be referred to). But I also let myself have two to three cheat meals a week. Some people think this is a lousy strategy and philosophically horrible, and that your eating style should be satisfying and healthful so that you shouldn’t have to eat a cheat meal. I have heard this from more than a few.

To which I offer this reply: please shut your pie hole while I finish my cupcake.

When I have a cheat meal I don’t all out binge until I’m nearly throwing up (okay, so that happened ONCE), but I’ll eat pizza…or possibly consume Dr. Pepper…or have a cupcake. Or cupcakes. Plural. Look, I get the perspective that one should have satisfying food that doesn’t necessitate a binge. Fundamentally, I agree. But on occasion, if one really digs it, then one should also have pizza and fried food, too. And the last time I tried incorporating those into my regular eating regimen I got really fat.

So I’m a fan of the cheat meal. Huge fan. On occasion, just not regularly. Total deprivation with food you crave isn’t good. But regular discipline with moments of deviating is fine, in my opinion. Of course, for others a momentary lapse causes the wheels to come off. You just have to figure out where you are in the spectrum.

There it is, some of the basics of what has helped me lose weight and get more fit over the past few years. There’s a few other things that have helped me along the way, particularly on the nutrition piece so I’m going to post some of those over the next few days–or week.

Happy Super Bowl Sunday!

Go Broncos.

Go Seahawks.

(clearly, I’m agnostic on the outcome of this game–but at least I know who is playing)

~Raz

 

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