Where I’m at with Health and Fitness (and Where I Want to Be)

This year I have a renewed drive to set and achieve goals, which was probably apparent with my goals for January and for 2021. And in looking at those goals I think it’s obvious that I’m hoping to achieve weight loss and improved health this year.

I’ve learned so much about myself and what I want over the last ten years. When I went to my first Zumba class in October 2010, I started to learn that I didn’t want to just be thin, but fit. Zumba taught me that I can actually enjoy being active and pursuing athletic activities. Even though my beloved Zumba class isn’t there anymore, I’ve found other ways to stay active and healthy. I’ve always enjoyed going for walks outside, and when I began working from home and couldn’t go with my coworkers anymore Bill started going with me. It’s now one of my favorite parts of the day and I enjoy getting to take a break, get some fresh air, and spend time with him. I had found a new dance class at a local gym that I absolutely loved, but when the pandemic shut things down I started working out at home by following Beachbody workouts. Although it’s always tough for me to get up and get moving, I’ve grown to really enjoy those first-thing-in-the-morning workouts. As we move into spring, Bill and I have vowed to get back into cycling and spend more time on our bikes.

When I achieved my weight-loss goals in my late twenties, I didn’t follow any diet or plan. Instead, I channeled the things that I’d learned over the years about nutrition and put them into practice, combined with logging my food in the LoseIt app and practicing portion control. I never restricted any foods; everything was allowed in moderation. I wish I could say that I’d stuck to this practice, but after turning 30 I gained a little weight and as a knee-jerk reaction I went on a pretty restrictive diet. The weight came off….and then came on again, plus some. Instead of going back to what I knew worked, I went back on a diet again…and again. Nothing worked (which should not be shocking, because diets do not work if they’re not sustainable long-term). I did all the fad programs: Medifast, Weight Watchers, Dukan. All came with an initial rush of results followed by misery and me ultimately falling off the program because I’d get so tired of restricting. A few years ago I drew a line in the sand and vowed that I wasn’t going to go on another diet, EVER, and I meant it. I’m proud to say that I’ve kept that promise to myself and that I’ve stayed away from diets, even as friends embark on their Paleo or Keto or whatever-else journeys.

And that brings me to where I am now: anti-diet (but with some extra pounds I’m ready to bid farewell to) and proud at how consistently I exercise and move my body. As far as fitness level goes, I feel like I’m in a great place and I want to use this year to do some hikes, some long bike rides, and of course lots of lunchtime walks. As far as my eating habits go, I’m ready to push myself to do better so I can (hopefully!) finally shed the extra pounds my foray into dieting left me with.

The only thing that has ever worked for me long-term is calorie counting, so that’s what I’m planning on doing in 2021. I’ve been using Jordan Syatt’s calorie counter to get a baseline of how many calories I can eat every day and still be in a deficit, which happily is not 1,200 (do you guys remember when for some reason eating 1,200 calories a day was like the gold standard for losing weight?). For my weekday breakfasts, lunches, and snacks, I’ve largely just reverted to what I used to eat when I was at my goal weight, but now I eat egg whites with veggies for breakfast instead of an Eggo waffle with peanut butter smeared on it. While the Eggo was arguably far more delicious, I can concede that the egg whites and vegetables have a lot more nutritional value. My go-to snacks are apple slices mid-morning and a Greek yogurt mid-afternoon, and for lunch I just have a Shakeology shake made with almond milk.

I like to cook a lot more than I used to, and home-cooked meals are a big help when trying to lose weight because I actually know what the heck is in my food. Although I love takeout as much as the next girl and I will freely admit that I fantasize at least once a week about the day when I can finally dine inside of a restaurant without fear of catching the plague, it’s really hard to track calories in restaurant food since it’s next to impossible to know exactly how it was prepared. Because Bill and I place a grocery order for curbside pickup once a week now and don’t do our shopping in-person, I have no choice but to meal plan for the week ahead so that I know what food to buy. At times this can be a little annoying because I can’t think of a week when I actually got all the things I wanted in my grocery order, but overall it works pretty well. I’ve had a lot of people tell me they don’t like it when someone else picks out their produce, but my particular grocery store does a nice job overall of giving me fresh fruits and veggies and I only had an issue one time, when I wanted to make roasted tri-color potatoes as a side dish but instead of my little bag of tri-color potatoes I got a single red potato, which would have been fine as a substitute had it been, say, a half pound of red potatoes, instead of just a single little red potato. That was odd, but it’s only happened one time so I just chalk it up to an amusing little story about curbside grocery orders.

One of the things Jordan Syatt says regularly that gives me hope is “You can’t fuck this up”. I know I need to hear that when I’ve had a stressful week and dealt with said stress by baking a double-layer chocolate cake and eating a slab of that cake every night after dinner for five days in a row. But even with cake, as long as I don’t give up I haven’t failed, because I can’t fuck this up. Five days in a row of really healthy eating never yielded dramatic results so five days in a row of cake for dessert isn’t going to yield dramatic setbacks.

I know where I want to be, and I’m going to get there, because I can’t fuck this up.

Monthly Goals for January

Happy 2021! It’s the first day of a brand new year, and I dearly love a fresh start. To kick off the new year, I’m making my goal list for the month of January.

Stick to my calorie count goal six days a week. This gives me one day where I can have a higher-calorie meal, but also gives me motivation to start working to building healthier habits. At the end of the day, losing or maintaining weight is all about calories in/calories out, so tracking my food every day will help me to be more cognizant of what I’m eating.

Weigh myself every day. I know some people think that this is a destructive habit, but for me it’s useful. I love data and I think it’s super interesting to see how different meals impact what I weigh the next day. And I won’t be hyper-focused on the day-to-day changes, but the changes from one month to the next.

Drink more water. I always have a 20-ounce tumbler of water next to my bed so I can drink water first thing in the morning, and my goal is to fill up my 32-ounce Hydroflask while I make my breakfast in the mornings so I can drink it throughout the day.

No alcohol. Bill and I have committed to participating in Dry January with some friends, and I think after the holidays the break from drinks will be a welcome one.

Average 7,500 steps/day each week. I’m putting this as an average daily number each week because while I love getting out and taking walks, I also know that January tends to be very cold and rainy and there will be days where the weather is just too gross to venture out.