This was a good week for me! I have begun a mental shift towards thinking about what I eat and how much exercise I am really getting.
The hardest part for me right now is designing a schedule that works. I don’t know when the most optimum time is to exercise. Is it morning, afternoon, evening? And, surprisingly, I have the same questions with food. When should I have breakfast? How early? How do I pace my meals so that I can sustain enough energy throughout the day?
The biggest hurdle is combining the exercise and nutrition goals with the demands of work. My schedule is not 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. This can provide additional challenges when trying to schedule exercise and plan meals.
By keeping a weekly food and exercise journal, I am immediately seeing a pattern emerge. I eat and exercise when I “can get to it.” I have decided to start scheduling a weekly planning session for myself instead of the usual daily “to-do” list that combines work and other responsibilities.
It is actually difficult for me to “think” about what I am eating. I just want to eat whatever will get me through the day. Again, since I don’t consume high amounts of junk food so I can rationalize my eating style.
The key area that needs the most help will be the hardest: I have to redesign my lifestyle patterns and, most of all, it will take time. I keep hoping that suddenly I will have this new lease on life – full of exercise and healthy eating and instant weight loss! Well, the hard part is learning how to incorporate it slowly and permanently into my life. I know I can’t expect results instantly, but I have begun to move in the right direction.
For the upcoming week, I have added a new element: visual reminders. In my office, I am placing a new tool that I am calling the “Motivation Board.” In it I place my exercise schedule and weekly weigh-in.
I am focusing on losing 1 pound at a time. I have a series of colorful numbers – 8,7,6,5,4,3,2 and 1 – which each represent a pound lost. I am focusing on 8 pounds as the immediate goal and 35 to 40 pounds as the long-term goal.
Each week, I will peel off 1 to 2 pounds. After I have lost the first 8 pounds, I will reward myself with something fun: a massage, a new pair of shoes, etc. I am experimenting at this point and will let you know how it works.
You did a nice job recording your food intake this week. Your average calorie intake was 1,438 calories, and your average fat intake was 47 grams. Your calories are low enough to lose weight, but your fat grams run high, about 30 percent of your calories.
You should aim at 20 percent of your calories as fat, and that would be an average of 30 fat grams a day. So, this week, try to keep your fat intake in this range. Add up your total calories and fat each week when you report in. You did not state a weight, so please do so each week. (Have you tried to use the food record forms we have provided?)
You expressed difficulty with finding the right time to eat. Again, on your food record, note the time of each meal and snack. This way I can track how many hours between meals.
Also, in an earlier e-mail, I described the hunger scale, from 0 to 10, with 0 as starving, 3 hungry for a meal, 5 neutral, 7 satisfied and 10 stuffed. When you note the time on your food record, record your hunger level before and after you eat.
As you get better at paying attention to your hunger, you will know when it is time to eat, and how much food keeps you satisfied for how long. Timing for meals should happen so that you are hungry, but not ravenous. If you aren’t hungry, then why are you eating?
Breakfast happens when you feel a little hungry in the morning, but for most people they just have to eat when it works for them. Expect to eat every 4 to 5 hours after your first meal. Snack is not a four-letter word. Well-chosen healthy snacks can tide you over and give you a chance to eat some fruit or dairy foods.
I like your motivational board! A reward system is a fun way to keep yourself accountable. Some people put a dollar in a jar (or $5 or $10) for every pound lost, with the intention to buy a new outfit or exercise equipment.
For others, just the feeling of being thinner and more fit is motivating enough. Try to take body measurements, or note how a particular pair of jeans fit. Use this to evaluate your size change, since sometimes the scale is deceiving.
So, you have some new things to track this week. I promise, it won’t keep getting more complicated!
Fantastic job with your effort this week. You have made a good start!
I would like to fine-tune your program somewhat, however. First of all, make sure that instead of stretching prior to your cardiovascular activities that you stretch at the very end of your workouts. The reason for this is to ensure that the muscles are warm and therefore more pliable.
If you are not performing your regular cardiovascular workout one day, but wish to stretch as you did on Sunday, make certain that you perform a light cardio activity for 3 to 5 minutes first.
As far as your strength/toning routine, I would like to have you get in at least two complete workouts per week on non-consecutive days. It is OK that you are doing the leg exercises, but don’t forget to also train your upper body muscles as I had outlined in your program. These exercises will tighten, firm and tone your muscles as well as enhance definition while you continue to lose body fat.
Lastly, don’t forget your abdominal muscles! Performing the abdominal curls on the floor is the best exercise for a beginner who wants to tighten abs. Make sure you have proper form. It is the quality – not the quantity – of reps that is important.
This week try to get in two good weight workouts this week along with your continued cardiovascular sessions and stretching.