Sunday, July 17, 2011
My sister, ONEKIDSMOM, tells me that she can accomplish just about anything, including losing weight, as a project. She wrestles with maintenance, when keeping the weight off becomes an ongoing process rather than a project with goals to strive for. I see her point, but it's slightly different for me. I can get my top priority done, and usually some other high priority stuff; but everything can't be on top.
There was a time in my life when I didn't need to think about managing my weight. It took care of itself. That didn't last forever, and the end of that situation happened when other stuff was topping my priority list. Weight management got onto my priority list about a decade ago.
I've tracked my weight daily, with a few missed days, since 12/31/2001. The impetus for starting this was that I was at my highest weight to date at that time, almost 220, and I reasoned that keeping track might help me lose. Well, it did . . . for a while. But while I was trying to get enough exercise, weight management and fitness weren't really top priorities. The results reflected this. Whenever Life Happened for an extended period of time, the weight crept up. And because my natural inclination is toward sedentary forms of amusement, climbing back on the fitness bandwagon after Life Happened wasn't easy and didn't happen as promptly as I might like.
So if weight management has been on and off my priority list over the past decade, how is it that I have nine and a half years of data that produce a nice graph showing whether I've been bad or good? Well, weighing myself first thing in the morning after using the restroom, before eating anything, and wearing standard sleeping underwear isn't much work. It's less work than, say, brushing my teeth. So that fits into a routine that can get done even if doing something effective about the weight gets shoved off the priority list.
The conundrum is, how do I manage my weight and fitness in spite of Life Happening? I don't have this solved, but over the past decade I've put some pieces of the puzzle together.
The first ugly truth I realized was that I need to make some time to get exercise for the sake of exercise. This goes against my natural inclination. I can handle walking somewhere that I might otherwise drive, and I like taking the stairs instead of the elevator. But doing something only to get the exercise never made sense to me. Sigh. If I gotta do it, I gotta do it. First I put in a walk on my lunch hour, which turns out to be a pretty good stress reliever in its own right. At the tender age of 49, I added weight lifting. I haven't stuck with that consistently, but learning was fun. A bit after that, I dusted off my vintage 1972 bicycle and got it functional. I really like bike rides for pleasure, but can't do this year round. Some years have been better for bike rides than others. Long term, my exercise routine has been erratic. Sometimes it's a priority, sometimes it's not. And when it's not a priority, not much of it happens.
I avoided the second ugly truth for years. As the weight lifting community says, "You can't out-train a crappy diet." Dieting in a traditional sense, meaning tracking everything I eat, appeals to me even less than exercise for the sake of exercise. I've gone the non-quantitative route of trying to control what I eat. That works okay when fitness is a top priority, and falls apart when Life Happens and other priorities dominate.
The most recent random Life Happens event was a vacation to visit family. My aforementioned sister is thin. She's thinner than I remember her being since before high school. The results are impressive, and we talked a little about how she did this, what she still struggles with, and what surprised her along the way. The striking thing is, she's found a reasonable way to measure both calories in and calories out. The calories out is a gizmo like a Body Bugg, but with a different name. The calories in is SparkPeople.
I looked at the Body Bugg. I could do that, but . . . it costs money up front, and there is a subscription cost. For it to be worthwhile, I'd need to be able to compare the calories out to the calories in, and that means tracking what I eat. Oh, @^*%. Sis has a ton of background knowledge making tracking easy for her. I don't. But Sis is also an analytical geek, and could explain to me a) How the SparkPeople site works b) How to get from needing to build *everything* to having enough stuff set up that tracking is reasonably easy, and c) How to find where other Sparkers have already entered a lot of nutritional data I'll need.
That lined up with a full week off work to learn the mechanics and get some standard foods into my favorites. Under gentle prodding (for my own good, of course) I signed up with SparkPeople and started tracking. It's not as painful as I thought it would be. Computer technology and a large community have ameliorated much of the setup work for tracking.
So . . . tomorrow I go back to work. It will be my first day Sparking on a normal schedule. I don't think I could have got through the site learning curve on a normal weekend, but I think I've done enough in the past 7 days to have a streak of recording what I eat last through the work week.
Time will tell if if will last longer than that, or if it can become so routine that it keeps being done the next time Life Happens and something not fitness related gets shoved to the top of the priority list.