Back in May I purchased a Fitbit Charge. The inspiration came from observing my boss who has had one for a while. I am really loving it. It’s like having a friend who is interested in a running commentary on my personal fitness. I don’t think any human being could be as interested in my fitness as my Fitbit is.
The Fitbit has provided sufficient inspiration that I have actually been tracking my food. I’ve done that in the past but never with the consistency I am now over time. It isn’t really even a pain in the neck. I like the feeling of control of really seeing what I eat and how much I move and the result of the interaction between those two things. Eventually I want to broaden my repertoire and incorporate more lifting and yoga back into my routine, but for the time being I am just getting used to moving more and consistently.
I feel like a pigeon being fed corn pellets in that I am so motivated by Fitbit’s little badges and peer competition. The boost in accountability of having the constant feedback has gotten me tackling 50 flights of stairs at work or stepping in place in front of the TV rather than sitting after a long day at my desk and driving. If it works I am OK with it.
Here’s an obscure reference. There’s a flash movie called “Rock and Roll McDonald’s” that’s from an underground artist in Chicago, now deceased I believe, named Wesley Willis. (Earworm warning; listen at your own risk.) The scene pictured here from the little movie has a cartoon kitty drinking what appears to be toxic runoff. Warned by his companion about this he comments “Nonsense! This stuff makes me smarter…” That said, here’s what I’ve been drinking some mornings lately in lieu of breakfast. I follow it in a couple of hours with a morning snack.
12 oz Soy Milk
1 Scoop Whey Powder
2 Teaspoons Instant Coffee
1 Teaspoon Cocoa Powder
25 Drops Stevia Liquid
4 oz Cold Water.
Shake in shaker bottle and voila. No more yawning.
I know not posting to a blog is not the same as, say, falling off the face of the Earth. Yet I almost feel like I did. Over the past few months I identified that the steps I was taking to deal with a nearly lifelong problem with anxiety were not enough. Rather than just interfering with select portions of my life, it had begun to interfere with my work. So I did something I had long resisted doing: sought a recommendation of a helping professional from my primary care physician and started taking medication for the problem for the first time in my life.
About 5 weeks in and past most of the bothersome start-up issues I think it was a good idea. In addition to the meds I am reading a book that’s designed to help one with disordered and dysfunctional thinking: “Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy” by David Burns, M.D. . It’s long been one of my quips that I feel responsible when it rains. Apparently this is a problem.
I am pleased to say that I’ve actually lost 15 pounds over the last year and that the meds I am taking don’t seem prone to screw that up as I move forward in my quest for better health and fitness.
English: By Richard Wheeler (Zephyris) 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Over the course of my working life I’ve had insurance with most of the major health insurance companies; sometimes twice. We had a stint with one of them last year that ended in July, but during my time with them I learned something new about myself.
The company offered financial incentives to take part in wellness activities. The first thing I did was take a health assessment which I believe earned me a $50 gift card. Score! As a result of my responses to this health assessment I received a phone call asking me if I wanted to participate in wellness coaching. Now I don’t get many phone calls and somehow the first reach-out caught me at a bad time. So I said no. But son of a gun, they persisted and called me again. The second time I decided what the heck. So I said yes.
My coaching consisted of periodic phone conversations with a wellness coach; a nurse, I think. We set goals together for me–with a big emphasis on making them achievable. My goals included fat loss, increasing the number of times per week I exercised and increasing the amount of water I drank.
What I found surprising as the months went on is that having this little conversation scheduled gave me permission to take more time for myself. So when it was 5:20PM and I hadn’t hit the workout room at work yet, rather than saying to myself that I had to rush home to be timely for dinner I would jump into my workout clothes and text my spouse that I was working out.
I got reasonable results on this program –not to mention $175 worth of goodies–and was disappointed when we switched health insurance companies that I had to let that go. I am now looking into getting it started with our current company. The major lesson I learned from the experience of wellness coaching is that the little boost in accountability to someone other than myself really helps me to make the extra push whether it’s pushing myself into the weight room, swigging more water or letting myself claim a few minutes here and there just for me and my health.
Sample Image from Leopard Book
Recently I watched the 2004 movie “Primer, ” a science-fiction thriller about some engineers who figure out how to achieve time travel. The movie, according to one analysis, has nine different timelines going in it at one time. Recently also I acquired Dr. Kelly Starrett’s book “Becoming a Supple Leopard” which is an amazing reference and resource on treating chronic pain, stiffness and bodily dysfunction in general. I have always thought of weightlifting and other fitness pursuits as being like a fountain of youth. Having been working with the exercises in this book for about a week I think this book is more like a time machine.
Starrett is the brains behind the website mobilitywod. I understand that his initial push to bring his wisdom to the masses was to post a video each day on a different topic for 365 days. His website is divided into information by subscription for professional trainers and practitioners and free stuff for the lay public.
I have been using the exercises shown and described in the book to work on particular body parts that are either themselves giving me problems or resulting in my moving in weird ways to compensate for them. An example of this is my ankles. They are tight enough that my squatting motion is restricted–and has been for years–making me most comfortable turning my feet out slightly or elevating my heels on a board. If I don’t do this my body will just tip over backwards. Starrett includes a number of tests like this to help one assess one’s own priority areas of physical dysfunction. Working on my tight ankles is going to take some time. Some other areas such as the low back, it’s helpful to have guidance on how much effort is needed to effect change in these areas. Let me say that “smash” is a word Starrett uses frequently in this text and I think he’s onto something. Some of the work I’ve been doing has resulted in parts that are immediately feeling better and more mobile. I am less stiff when I get up from sitting. Hence the time machine analogy.
I’ve been going at this for the past week for about 30 minutes a day. I’ve curtailed some of my other activities to fit it in but I honestly believe that by allowing body parts to function properly I may have built more strength and power in the last week without additional lifting than I would have bringing my years of built-up tightness to my weightlifting workouts.
A few months ago my health insurance company reached out to me to ask if I’d like to take advantage of Wellness Coaching. Well actually it began a step before that. My health insurance company offers subscribers financial incentives to get healthy. The first one was taking on on-line health assessment for which they gave me a $25 gift certificate. There are activities one can complete for another $75 and the actual periodic chats with a wellness coach will get you another $75. I have a very nice general practitioner who has expressed to me a weight goal for me. Does it go without saying that I don’t see much of my general practitioner? As of this winter that goal had receded to being 15 pounds away and it dawned on me that I needed to reverse that trend pretty darned quick before it receded any further.
So when my health insurer made this offer I agreed to work with a coach. My coach calls me once every few weeks. We set particular goals and then discuss how I am doing to meet them. These have mainly included getting my amount of exercise up and drinking more water. Since I started working on this program I have lost 6 pounds and and inch and a half off my waist. The program has lots of on-line motivational tools and exercises with cute little tracker bars to tell you how you’re doing on them.
I’m not doing everything the program would like to see me do. The main thing I am not doing is tracking all my food daily. I probably should. I have a few excuses for not doing so including that I mainly eat the same set of things day in and day out. I think my plan is to keep that arrow in my quiver so that if I stop making progress I can start tracking and be able to keep going.
For me there was a fair amount of low hanging fruit with respect to my habits. So first off measuring certain foods was a place to begin. Cutting back on splurge meals and evening snacking was another place. Drinking more water was another. Actually I am not really pushing hard enough on that. It sure would help if it weren’t so darned cold out this spring.
One of the main benefits of coaching for me is accountability. While I am plenty smart and know a lot about health and fitness, I do tend to b.s. myself and make excuses about why I don’t do things. (Um, like it’s too cold out this spring to drink enough water…) To make changes I have to be more honest with myself. And yes, while I don’t believe in low-calorie dieting and I do lift weights, it is also true that I have been over-fat for a long time and that only changes in my behavior will change that. Period. And they are changes that I will have to stick with by and large for a long, long time.