How to Lose 100 Pounds on a Crazy Schedule

12SHARES

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
2/25/2012 2:00 PM   :  103 comments   :  38,353 Views

I do not live in a perfect world where everything falls into place inside the boxes and lines of my day planner. Few of us do. So many of us can relate to the day-to-day chaos that requires quick decisions made in the heat of battle. I don’t keep the same schedule for more than 7 days at a time. Just as soon as I adjust to day shift, I rotate to midnight shift, then afternoons, then back again. It seems like I am always scrambling to adjust, to regain my balance only to have to adapt again.

Many of us can tell a similar story. Maybe you are someone constantly devoting your time to the care and nurture of others. Maybe you are on the road a lot. Every person has a unique set of challenges that seems to get in the way of their goals.

So how did I do it? How did I manage to overcome all of that, lose 100 pounds and train for a marathon? These are my top must-dos to gain traction on a demanding schedule.
  1. The first thing I had to do was to realize that, although I was in a tough situation, I still had control over some things. The key for me was to separate the things that I could not control from the things that I could, writing it out on paper if necessary to see it more clearly. That way I was not wasting energy wallowing in anxiety, and was able to focus on the things I did have control over. I had to identify windows of opportunity and then exploit them. If that window was only 15 minutes wide, then I could make it a good 15 minutes and pat myself on the back for a job well done. You can feel a lot of resentment toward work and life in general if you feel like you are totally controlled by your schedule. Focusing on what you CAN do rather than what you CAN’T will really help you gain a more positive mindset.


  2. Success in the insanity that is loosely defined as life is a matter of commitment over perfection. All or nothing has no place in losing weight and getting fit on a demanding schedule. Maintaining momentum is the most important thing. Momentum undergirds motivation. Without momentum, all the fitness equipment, gym memberships and other tools are null and void. Momentum is created by simple commitment. Don’t wait for a feeling before acting: it will never come.


  3. Goal cards – I used 4X6 index cards folded in half like a book. On the front I put my daily goals and on the inside my exercise and food log. Keeping a continual food diary is awesome, especially for troubleshooting problems, but keeping it on an individual card that I keep in my pocket and refer to often keeps my goals in the here and now. I ask myself: “What do I want this card to look like at the end of the day? What if someone were going to review it?” I look at it at the end of the day, pat myself on the back for a job well done or forgive the goof ups, then toss it. The day is over along with its successes or failures. I don’t dwell on yesterday’s failings: I focus on TODAY.

    Your long-term success depends on how you wind up at the end of the day, not 2 weeks from now and certainly not “someday”. Frustration results when what you are doing does not line up with the direction you feel you should be taking in your heart. Even if life gets in the way, making small steps toward what you feel is important is a big morale booster. Every day is another chance to get it right. By putting out small goals everyday, or as much as possible, and working toward them, you will feel more in control. The main thing is to keep the momentum going in the chaotic, rough patches that are sure to come.


  4. When I first started my weight loss journey, I had to make exercise feel like an easy option. If you don’t make it easy for yourself, you probably won’t do it. For example, when I was on my 7-midnight shifts, where I was in zombie mode, I got my workout clothes laid out and my bike or treadmill set up. All I had to do was just wander down the hall, slide into my clothes, and hop on. Doesn’t sound like much, but when your mind is a fuzzy mess, it makes all the difference in the world until your blood starts pumping and you can think again.


  5. I had to learn to expect the unexpected. It is a must to make a mental list of emergency go-to strategies that you can turn to when life gets in the way and you have to think on your feet. For the shift worker, that is almost all the time. It takes time to get in the routine of making consistently healthy choices in the face of life’s hurdles. Be patient with yourself and keep researching and experimenting. Only you can craft a plan that will fit you. Always research your options.


  6. Changing your dietary routine is a lot like jumping from one speeding train to another going in the opposite direction. From day 1, your decisions are typically made on the go. This is where consistency rules over perfection. There is no reasonable way you or I are going to undo years of bad choices or deprogram ourselves from an ingrained, unhealthy routine in just a few weeks or months any more than we can dump out a puzzle and have it fall together into the picture on the cover.

    What worked for me was to start with foods I was already familiar with and found ways to make them more healthy. I didn’t do anything too extreme or exotic. My plan wasn’t perfect, but it was a good start. For me, starting where I was and making healthier substitutions as I got more educated was the way to go. Nothing is more stressful than taking the core of your daily routine and turning it on its ear, especially when your schedule is not forgiving. Slow changes are far more lasting. It takes a lot of committed effort to hone your routine to a sharp, effective edge.


  7. I treat my exercise routine like a second job, not something that is done “in between the commercials” of life. At work, I punch in if I don’t feel like it, if I’m having a bad day, or am just sagging or dragging. My duty to my job isn’t up for negotiation, and neither is my exercise routine. It has to be that way for me to succeed. Exercise is survival, not a hobby. Treat it as such.


  8. When training for an athletic event on a demanding schedule, consider this. Divide your training into blocks. Identify blocks of time that you can devote to training and make it happen. Don’t condemn yourself for lapses in time that are beyond your control. Unfortunately, it is next to impossible for a shift worker to follow every square on a training schedule. Like the picture on a frozen dinner that says “serving suggestion”, I had to take my training schedule and treat it as a basic outline and do the best I could. It doesn’t pay to put yourself through the anxious thoughts of, “Oh my goodness, I missed week 3, day 2 of training. What will I do?”

    If you are on a 12-week running program, give yourself more than 12 weeks before your event just in case you experience a life-induced lapse. Don’t ever double up on training or do extra miles, etc. There is no making up for lost time. That is the fast track to injury. On days you miss a scheduled training session, focus on diet. Every time you sit down to eat, you are training. You always have control over what you put in your mouth. To get good nutrition is just as important as getting in that long run. Healthy eating IS training and you can do that on any shift. That helped me eliminate a lot of the frustration over an irregular training schedule.


Hopefully, the strategies that worked for me can help you on your road to weight loss and fitness. If I could do it on my insane schedule, I know you can, too. This is your life, and it might be crazy, but you do have some control. With a little bit of planning and a lot of motivation to get you through the speed bumps, those goals are in your reach: just jump up and grab them!


What is your biggest challenge in your weight loss journey?



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Comments

  • 103
    Fantastic blog- well written with a lot of advice I am going to take to heart and get moving. I liked thinking of exercise as a second job and the note card I am going to start right away.
    Thank you so very much!! - 9/11/2012   9:58:00 PM
  • 102
    Great blog, one of the few on SP I have ever bookmarked. - 6/23/2012   10:41:17 PM
  • 101
    7 and 8 are my struggles. Thank you for the great advice. - 4/18/2012   10:14:13 AM
  • 100
    7 and 8 are my struggles. Thank you for the great advice. - 4/18/2012   10:14:12 AM
  • 99
    Loving your blog. 1. the note card idea is great. I tried a notebook and it was too much. 2. treating exercise as a second job is great too. I needed a kick in the posterior end! Thanks for sharing your ideas. - 3/19/2012   10:35:55 AM
  • 98
    your article is great! I am going to try the index card rule, and thanks for the 3rd shift worker item, I printed that out. - 3/19/2012   4:16:50 AM
  • JTGGODQOS
    97
    love the index idea! totally stealing it. thanks! :D - 3/5/2012   9:26:27 AM
  • 96
    Thanks for the motivation. I've needed a kick in the but to make sure I do my exercises. I do walk my dog every day-that my feet allow me to after work(I have flared up heel spurs), but I just can't seem to get into the strength training. It might help me if I ever try it. I think I'll try one today while I have a day off from work. - 3/4/2012   9:37:22 AM
  • 95
    Seems to me like some of these points could work in life for all sorts of situations, not just diet and exercise. - 3/2/2012   12:28:14 AM
  • 94
    What a motivational blog! This is the first time I've ever felt compelled to leave a comment on a blog, thank you so much for sharing. Your approach to obstacles and how you faced them and conquered them is inspiring. - 3/1/2012   6:34:21 AM
  • MISSYRH3
    93
    thank you for this post! I definetly needed a little extra motivation to get back into things. I got sick and family has been sick so getting back into the swing has been difficult, but you are sooooo right, no one else can make my decision to keep going! - 2/29/2012   7:17:28 PM
  • IRISHGAL30
    92
    I so needed this today. Thank you for your post. Very inspiring, truthful honest and motivational. Awesome!! - 2/29/2012   12:32:46 PM
  • 91
    Thanks for the insight this is a wonderful example for all of us. - 2/28/2012   10:28:35 PM
  • JKLEMME1
    90
    Loved the index card idea. Thanks for it. - 2/28/2012   5:11:36 PM
  • 89
    You are a great writer! Really! I love all the tips you shared here and can really use all of them to help me manage my days. Thank you so much for the inspiration. - 2/28/2012   3:08:10 PM
  • 88
    thanks for sharing - 2/28/2012   11:40:10 AM
  • 87
    What a great feeling to know that there is someone out there who struggles in the same way that I do and has been successful on their journey! KUDOS!!

    Thank you for the inspiration!! - 2/28/2012   2:47:18 AM
  • NIMA1265
    86
    A real good article. I share many of the problems listed in it and I'm happy and thankful for suggestions to help me overcome them and come out with flying colours with my motivation to keep on the journey. THANK YOU. - 2/27/2012   11:26:27 PM
  • CLAIRESPATH
    85
    I have to say it takes a lot to loose 100 pd good on you. I like # 7. I'll try it and see. Thanks again - 2/27/2012   10:16:40 PM
  • 84
    I love #7 and copied it to paste in my facebook! People need to see that!
    Thanks - and congratulations, job well done! - 2/27/2012   8:59:14 PM
  • DH1186
    83
    you have helped me plan & use 15min time frame better - 2/27/2012   8:23:58 PM
  • 82
    It's easy to see that with that kind of commitment, you succeeded under difficult circumstances. I picked up some really useful tips in this blog. Thanks! - 2/27/2012   5:09:00 PM
  • 81
    Thanks so much for this great essay. I especially liked your ideas about focusing on what we can control, making momentum rather than perfection the goal (even a half step forward is still forward), and not trying to adopt extreme lifestyle changes in the midst of a chaotic schedule. Thanks again! - 2/27/2012   4:14:28 PM
  • 80
    Thank you Robert! Shift working was what got me into this in the first place. You have proven to me that getting out of it is actually possible! - 2/27/2012   4:02:20 PM
  • 79
    "Exercise is survival, not a hobby. Treat it as such." That's gonna be my quote of the day, love it! - 2/27/2012   3:26:14 PM
  • 78
    perfect common sense! Thanks buddy for spelling it out in plain ole English! Love it - 2/27/2012   3:09:13 PM
  • 77
    Love the idea of treating excercise like a job! So easy, yet profound! - 2/27/2012   1:15:39 PM
  • 76
    Thank you so much for such insight and tips that I can incorporate into my life. I loved the point about exercise being a second job. Also where you sit to eat and it is training. This is going into my favorites. Thank you again - 2/27/2012   12:21:25 PM
  • K_RENEE
    75
    I just wish I had more support. Not social support-- I get plenty of that on Sparkpeople from people who know what I'm going through. But I could use a little support from my family and friends who don't seem to realize that I need time for myself to work out, plan meals, even do my own laundry!! Even though I've learned to say no, they seem to continue to infringe on my time and make things more difficult. I'm trying to learn to work around that. - 2/27/2012   11:25:13 AM
  • 74
    I really like what you say about making exercise like your job. I am really trying to incorporate this idea. It can be so easy just to say "oh well, I just feel like exercising today" but once you lose that momentum its really hard to get back on track! Thanks for a great article! - 2/27/2012   11:23:50 AM
  • 73
    Thank you for the thoughtful and educational post. Treating exercise as a second job gives it the status it deserves. Your health should be that important. - 2/27/2012   10:48:41 AM
  • KIMA-W
    72
    This post really struck a chord with me and has inspired me on an emotional level I haven't felt before. Beautifully written and very inspiring! While I only have 10 lbs. or so to lose I haven't had much success, but that's going to change - starting today! Thanks Robert! - 2/27/2012   10:20:14 AM
  • 71
    This is a wonderful post! My absolute favorite sentence "Every time you sit down to eat, you are training. You always have control over what you put in your mouth." I paused after reading that sentence and read it again...twice! Kind of like an "aha" moment! Thanks for posting and thinking out loud. - 2/27/2012   9:51:44 AM
  • 70
    "only YOU can craft a plan that will fit YOU."

    Excellent! Very helpful advice. - 2/27/2012   9:46:25 AM
  • 69
    who is this guy? he is awesome! This is by far and away the best blog I have ever read...not just on SP, but anywhere!! I saved this blog to my SP favorites. Good wisdom and good advise! - 2/27/2012   8:13:44 AM
  • 68
    Absolutely one of the best, most helpful boots I've ever read on SparkPeople! And that's saying a lot!!! - 2/27/2012   3:54:47 AM
  • 67
    Here are what I find the most useful in this lovely article..
    1. exercise is not a hobby.. it's like a second job.
    2. check your goal on daily basis.
    3. start by what you know and try to improve it.. maybe it's not a perfect plan but a good start.

    Thanks :) - 2/27/2012   2:52:06 AM
  • 66
    Great blog, Robert! THANKS - 2/27/2012   12:13:14 AM
  • 65
    How inspiring! I'm also surprised by the poll results, I had no idea so many other people had problems with inconsistent motivation. Especially now that I'm maintaining I find that I'm not as motivated as I was when I was trying to lose. - 2/26/2012   10:17:51 PM
  • TAJONES57
    64
    Reading your blog was great! Some of your tips are wonderful, and I am going to incorporate them into my life. I work in a hospital, and my shift varies from week to week. You are so right about focusing on what you can do. I also liked the concept of treating your exercise routine like a second job. I have been having trouble with keeping my motivation, and I found your ideas very helpful! Thanks for writing this blog!. - 2/26/2012   10:04:13 PM
  • 63
    This is a wonderful blog. I will take a lot of these tips and incorporate them into my life. My fav is the goal card. Thanks! - 2/26/2012   9:01:18 PM
  • 62
    "Every time you sit down to eat you are training". I really enjoyed your article but this struck me particularly as a really useful attitude to adopt. I too have over 100 pounds to lose and feel quite optimistic at this point. Last night I even found myself entertaining the notion of eventually taking part in a triathlon! This is a new thought but I reckon it's doable. Thanks again Robert! - 2/26/2012   8:23:13 PM
  • 61
    very good encouragement for those of us who have 101 excuses! - 2/26/2012   7:39:55 PM
  • 60
    "Exercise is survival, not a hobby. Treat it as such."

    This is my new mantra!

    Nice blog! Thanks for sharing some great ideas!!!


    - 2/26/2012   6:32:22 PM
  • JSNYDE2
    59
    I admire your courage - 100 pounds to lose must have been daunting! Yes fitness is a job - it's as simple as that. - 2/26/2012   6:20:35 PM
  • 58
    "Exercise as a job" - that can have a strange impact on people.

    There are those who LOVE their job...this idea will work well for them.

    If your job is a drudgery, a hated daily event...then think of exercise as your *escape* from work!

    I have often done shift work and you made some points that made tons of sense to me. I need to find a way to come back to this blog entry. - 2/26/2012   5:33:20 PM
  • CINDERSC
    57
    LOVE the index card idea. Will be getting some tomorrow. Thank you! - 2/26/2012   5:31:49 PM
  • 56
    This was what I needed to hear! Thank you. - 2/26/2012   5:24:37 PM
  • CALABASH
    55
    Great advice. Thanks for sharing. - 2/26/2012   5:08:43 PM
  • FABFRAN
    54
    Thank you Robert for the great tips and inspiration. I have been using my crazy work schedule as an excuse for too long. I switch back and forth with days and afternoon shifts and rotating weekend days. Not as extreme as your shift changes yet you managed to lose 100 pounds. I no longer have my excuses. Here is to a better on track week. - 2/26/2012   4:54:26 PM

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