Tuesday, January 10, 2012

10 Things Tuesday: Diet and Exercise

I'm in the phase of rebuilding the two foundations of my training regimen for triathlon season.  Part of that involves losing some fat, but there's more to it than simply saying, "fat, be gone!" (though wouldn't that be cool!)

Here's where my efforts are focused:

Be mindful of what I eat. Hello, my name is Wayfarer and I am a carb junkie. There. I've admitted it. If I have an addiction of any kind, it's to carbs. I don't drink to any real degree and I don't do drugs, but you can absolutely fill my plate again with pasta (and I'll take some bread to go with that, too, please). It's not always a bad thing, though. When I'm in full training mode, carbohydrates are a necessary energy source. They're the fuel that allows endurance training to take place. When I'm not running, swimming or biking all the time, though, carbs turn from Yoda to Sith lord. I know this intellectually but, in moments of low mental and spiritual fortitude, they are my comfort food and I am less aware of how much of them I eat. The first place I turn when I need to shed fat before I start full on training is to the carbs. I eliminate the extra bits that have crept in over time (the extra half a bagel I somehow started eating again, for example) and steer back toward more whole grains. We all know we're supposed to be eating whole grains, right? Yeah, well, if they tasted like white bread I'd probably eat more of them.

Be mindful of when I eat. School is busy for me. I hit the ground running and, if I don't remind myself to do it, I won't stop to do things like eat, drink or run to the bathroom (I cannot tell you the number of times I ridicule my wife for saying, "I've needed to pee for four hours," but truth be told, I do the exact same thing at school). If I don't take the time to eat around noon, I'm ravenous by 3pm, which makes me much more likely to the aforementioned comfort foods -- especially the kind that come in bags or boxes. I won't eat the apple or banana I brought, and if it requires heating up, the lunch from home takes too much time. Regardless of what I eat at 3pm, I'll still eat supper at 6pm. I'm not one to turn away a meal. I mean, what happens if the zombie apocalypse should occur before the next one comes?

Be mindful of water. I do not drink well in colder weather. When it's cold, I like warm things in my cup, but the problem is that I'm finicky about my warm drinks. I love coffee, but it's not good to drink too much of it (especially with cream and sugar, like I prefer). Tea is for being sick or supremely cold; I don't like drinking it all the time -- it lacks the richness of coffee, for one thing, and it never tastes as good as it smells. All the other warm drinks (hot chocolate, cider, etc.) are yummy, but definitely Sith drinks when consumed in quantity. Warm water is, well, bleh. I don't have a good solution for dealing with this, except to set an alarm to fill my mug every so often with water and drink it right then. I'm open to suggestions about a better way. Don't take it personally if I criticize it, though. It's the finicky thing.

Take time to breathe. Meditation is something that does me a great deal of good. Sometimes it leads to naptime (which is always nice), but even without that bonus just taking a moment to center myself and recharge is helpful both to my ability to be mindful of things I should and resist doing things I shouldn't. I try to build it into my routine every day, but the fall semester at school is very full and it very easily gets dropped from my schedule to accommodate for one obligation or another.

Lighten my schedule. I make the choice to coach soccer in the fall, and I've learned that this carries with it the consequence of pushing my normally full schedule over the line into the zone of brain exploding busy. I accept that for the two and a half months that is the soccer season, and I do a decent job of maintaining good habits during that time. Once the season is over, I need my calendar to have more white space in it. Sometimes, I overestimate the value of that white space and take on projects that I really need to put off or simply let go. This year, I added a lot to my plate early on, including two independent studies, one of which requires a lot of behind-the-scenes work. I can't in good conscience let those go, but as other things resolve I can choose to leave that time free. Just say no.

Moderate the heavy thinking. Here's the thing: When I'm doing a lot with my brain, I eat. Unlike when I use my body a lot, though, the calories consumed as part of brain exercise do not burn off. I'm a big picture thinker, and I many of my projects require a lot of that for long periods of time. Because I enjoy that kind of thing, it's easy no ignore how much time goes by when I'm doing it. The problem is that it's also easy to ignore that I'm eating while I'm doing it, and that isn't conducive to shedding fat. So, I'm trying to moderate the amount of time I sit down with them and, when the timer goes off, to put them away.

Go for a walk. It's not super rigorous, but walking is an effective way to lose fat and has several advantages this time of year. It's flexible in it can be done in small amounts during the day or in a longer chunk of time. It doesn't require warm up or cool down. It doesn't require special equipment (just dress for the weather). It carries a low risk of injury, which is good if you're just getting into a habit of exercise (it's hard to hurt yourself from walking too much) or if, like me, you haven't set up your bike on its trainer upstairs or fully set your internal clock to get up at 5am to hit the pool or the treadmill.

Keep records. I've done this for training for the past 6 years, and it does a good job of keeping me honest about taking time every day for some form of exercise. I have a log for eating that I use less regularly, but that is also good for helping me watch my diet. Some people really like paper for this because it's more tangible, but I choose to do this on the computer with spreadsheets because I live on my computer. Do what works.

Have a reason. I committed to shedding 25lbs in 90 days, but there's more to it than that. I have other goals that depend upon this, like running triathlons or going on distance cycling trips or doing my first half marathon. To know why I'm losing the fat (that is, this goal in a context with the rest of my life) goes a long way toward seeing it realized.

Congratulate the successes; Revise as necessary. Failures are only failures if the trying stops. Life is rarely about things being done. If I meet my goal (today, for example, it was just to get out for a walk), I'll tell myself I did a good job. If I should make a mistake and fall off the wagon, I just have to think about what went wrong and try it again. Tomorrow's another day, with another chance to do it right if I choose to. I'm choosing to.

Where are your efforts focused right now?

1 comment:

the passionate hairdresser said...

I should be doing exactly what you are doing, however, I'm not. Sigh...I am plotting and planning how I'll be spending my taxes when I get them back....financially, things have changed for me, in a good way, but that means my so-called "disposable" income needs to not be disposable, and I need to spend my money most wisely. Which also means I need to clear cabinet space and closet space to stock pile things like papergoods so I don't have to purchase them quite so often...and supplies for the furry beast, too...