I shall apologize to anyone who doesn’t really want to read about my quest to modify my shape from what resembles an abstract pear to one that I vaguely remember from my younger days. If you fit the description of one who doesn’t really care or have the slightest interest in this type of stuff, you are welcome to stop reading here.

Still with me? Awesome!

It’s the start of a new month, and I’ve been mentally toying with a few ideas related to trying to get back into shape. I’m a firm believer in the idea that you should tackle one goal at a time, or at least get familiar and comfortable enough with a goal that adding another one will not be disillusioning. My first set of goals were around scheduling in 10,000 steps per day, then doing them all at once, then upping the ante to 15,000 steps as a daily goal. 15,000 steps is roughly eight miles, and about two and a half hours of time commitment per day. So far, my routine has been as follows:

– walking from home to train station (1.5 miles, about 30 minutes)
– train station to work (0.5 to 1.8 miles or 10 to 35 minutes, depending on if I get off in Palo Alto or Menlo Park)
– fifteen minute walk in the morning as a break (roughly 0.5 to 0.75 miles)
– an hour walk at lunch (average of 2.5 miles)
– another fifteen minute walk in the afternoon as a break (again roughly 0.5 to 0.75 miles)
– walk from work to train station and finally train station to home
– work to train station (again, 0.5 to 1.8 miles or 10 to 35 minutes, depending on station)
– train station to home (1.5 miles, with a significant hill at the very end)

Added to this is another habit I’ve started. I bought a large SmartWater bottle (no particular reason for that brand, just that it is a large and easy to carry bottle that can hold 1.5 liters). I fill this bottle three times a day, and add a flavor packet just for some variety (drinking that much water each day can get *very* boring). By talking a sip every few minutes while walking, the water just disappears, I don’t feel forced, and I genuinely feel way less hungry during the day.

The third habit I started was a daily weigh in. I’ll do my best to not get TMI here, but for those who have wondered, if you want to do this, I wholly recommend doing it after you first wak up and go to the bath room. That’s been my baseline the past few weeks, and there is something borderline primal about the excitement of “making weight”. For those who ever participated in high school or college wrestling programs, you may well have taken part in some of the insanity to make sure you could compete in your desired weight class. Doing lots of active running, taking sauna baths, sweating as much as possible (and yes, I’ve even gone as far as using over the counter diuretics… I know, bad TESTHEAD), but the joy at standing on that scale and seeing that you “made weight” was pretty hard to beat. so it is here as well.

I know that my weight can fluctuate as much as seven pounds in any given day, so a daily weighing may see drops, may see plateaus, and may even see upward ticks in weight on some days. I try not to let it get to me, but hey, there’s a natural euphoria when you see the scale trend down, and a tough of disappointment when you either can’t move the needle or it trends upward again. The benefit of daily weigh-in allows me to mentally focus on what I need to do. If I trend down. Awesome. If I don’t move, give it a little time. If I trend up, examine what I may have eaten that could have caused that reversal (usually, the scene is eating at a restaurant or outdoor place, and the primary culprit is sodium). nevertheless, when I see a downward trend week over week, that’s what really matters, and so far, that’s what is happening.

A recent addition to my arsenal, and one I happen to like quite a bit, is an app called LoseIt. LoseIt has a number of tools that help you to figure out your weight and exercise goals, your food intake, and lots of tools to help manage al of that. A personal favorite feature is the “scan app”. Place your camera over a bar code on the food item (if it has one) and you have the full macronutrient breakdown for that product. It’s awesome because it’s so fast. It’s demoralizing because it’s so fast (LOL!). LoseIt also allows users to set up details about themselves (weight, height, gender, target weight, etc.) and from that it determines a likely Basal Metabolic Rate. Based on your activity level and your set goals, the app configures a daily caloric “budget”. That budget is measured daily, but it also projects weekly as well. By logging the food you eat, and comparing to the budget, you can determine how close you are to meeting the limit or if you have room to spare. adding exercise to the equation (the steps measured by the device are store in the Health app and shared with LoseIt if you choose to). By calculating the BMR and the estimated expended calories, it makes deductions and also adds small bonuses if you meet a particular step or activity goal. The net result is a nice graphic that shows how many calories you have left in your budget (the greater the deficit, the larger the remaining calories count, and very 3500 is equivalent to a pound of bodyfat!).

One additional option that is available is the Bluetooth body density scale that is made to work with LoseIt. I haven’t decided yet if this option is awesome or creepy. It uses insulating and conductive plates to send a small current through your body. The resulting resistance gives a figure to your bodyfat percentage (I don’t consider these tools to be all that accurate, but for ball park numbers and personal goals, I think they work fine). By having these measurements, you can get closer to a real figure of your lean body weight, your bodyfat percentage, and a rough approximation of how much bodyfat you have (and more importantly, how much to lose). The scale can be set to automatically sync with your mobile device, no entry needed (this is where I vacillate if I should be impressed or horrified 😉 ). NO i haven’t purchased one, but I will confess, I am intrigued.

In any case, the information informs me of how close I am to my target budget, or how far away I am. Most of all, it gives me a reality check as to both the amount of calories my body can burn (a good amount, but nowhere near what I’d like to achieve in the time I’d like to invest) and the calories I consume (wait, a serving size is how big?!!). The tools themselves do not do the work, each of us does it. The tools, however, can give us some control and visibility, and make us aware of our choices and what we need to trade one way or another. Don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate, really good soda pop, and a variety of foods that would best be described as “calorie laden”, but when I am aware of the fact that I spent three hours moving and doing stuff to “afford” those items, I’m less likely to partake in them. that awareness, coupled with deliberate action, does the work. It’s not magic… but it sure can feel like it at times :).

For those curious, 243.5lbs as of this morning. That’s down 16.5lbs. from my weight when I started. Expecting the progress to start slowing any day now, and the real work to pick up in earnest. Onward!!!