My healthy lifestyle journey – Am I there yet?

My healthy lifestyle journey – Am I there yet?

healthy photo

My lifestyle and general attitude to all things fit and healthy has changed dramatically over the last few years.  One of the major factors in this has been becoming a Dad at the relatively old age of 37.  This made me take a long hard look at myself and how I lived my life.  All of sudden the realisation came that I wanted to be a part of my Daughters life for as long as possible and in order to do that I probably had to change a few things about myself.

That sounds a little dramatic so I’d best qualify it a little before continuing. I’ve always been reasonably healthy but a number of years in a sedentary job, the regular drinks with friends, the lack of real motivation for exercise and the fact I had almost zero fruit and very little veg in my diet meant that there was definite room for improvement.  My mental health also came into it. That’s a separate post for another day but one of my concerns about myself has always been my heart health. My family has some history with heart disease but I witnessed a work colleague die from a heart attack right in front of me a few years ago and a short time later my Mothers partner died unexpectedly, again from a heart attack, so you can understand how this would bring my concerns to the fore.

I’m just over 6 ft tall and at my largest weighed over 14.5 stone. This may not seem excessive but I’d been told a few times that my ideal weight was around 13 stone so I needed to shed a stone and a half.  I’ve never been a particular ‘muscly’ person so it was all bad stuff I needed to lose.  As with a number of people I’ve talked to one of the triggers for setting me off towards changing my lifestyle (apart from being a Dad) was seeing some photos of myself and wincing! Where did those jowls come from? Why did I my upper body look like a triangle (the wrong way)?! Enough!

So, here’s how I’ve managed to get myself to a place where I’m feeling a lot better about myself and my health. I’ll be mentioning a couple of products below. I’m new to blogging but from what I’ve seen other people post I’d best clarify that this is my own opinion and is not an advert or collaboration with any brand.

MyFitnessPal

This is my go to app for controlling my food and drink intake and I absolutely swear by it. It’s worked for me a few times and I have recommended it to friends and family who have also seen the benefit. For those that don’t know, its a calorie counting app that you use to log your food intake and exercise against a predetermined number of calories. When you start you put in your current weight, desired weight and how quick you want to attain that goal. I’d always go for the “lose approx 1-1.5 pounds a week”. The key here is to log everything and to be honest! Those 5 pints on a Friday night – log it. That takeaway pizza – log it.  That 30 min walk around the park – log it. Over a number of weeks you build a pattern of what you should and should’t eat but you have to be reasonable. Don’t go for the quick fix and always think long term. My typical goal is 1850 calories a day and through practise I was regularly hitting this even with the odd snack and treat (beer!) thrown in. As the graph above shows you can see the effects of this. You can also see when I thought I’d nailed it, stopped using it and the weight started creeping up again. Curse you favourite snacks!!

Fitbit

fitbit photo
Photo by Sole Treadmill

As mentioned above I have a sedentary job and this is made worse because of a 50 mile round trip in the car every day to work meaning I sit down for the vast majority of the day.  After doing a little research I decided to give the Fitbit  a go and it was a game changer for me.  It created a whole new mindset of getting out of my chair and just moving.  I’d find I’d go for a 20 minute walk around the block in an evening or a 2 mile walk along the riverside during my lunch break just to get my steps in. This definitely helped with the lethargy I was experiencing.

 

My 5 a day

I’ve always been a bit of a fussy eater and despite my pallet leaping to life in my early 20s I still struggled to fit in the magic 5 a day portions of fruit and veg you’re supposed to have every day. This is the most recent change in my lifestyle and as with all of these changes, wasn’t very hard to implement.  I’ve never enjoyed fruit;  not so much the taste but the texture.  How could I force this food group down my neck?  Thank you daughters fruit pouch snacks,  a (an?) eureka moment! I invested in a smoothie maker and have never looked back.  After dinner on an evening and by way of a pudding I typically throw a banana, pear, strawberries, blueberries, milk and natural yogurt into a blender and hey presto, fruit done! As for the veg I decided to do something similar.  Step forward soup maker!  I throw loads of veg into a big pot, add chopped tomatoes and veg stock, season and freeze the portion sizes and take them as my work lunch in a flask.

Now in all honesty, I’m not sure if I “feel” healthier as a result of the increase in fruit and veg intake but knowing I’m hitting the levels needed is again a good motivator.

Joining the local gym

dumbbell photo

That old chestnut! But again, if you’re realistic about it and get into a routine (another thing being a Dad has taught me) it works.  I signed up to the one near my job and go there on my dinner hour and cram 30 mins of cardio and weights work in usually 2-3 times a week. It’s true what they say about those magical endorphins and it puts me in a cracking mood on an afternoon. Some weeks I can’t be bothered but that’s ok. The mindset change has me feeling guilty those weeks and I’ll go for a 10 min walk instead, just to keep active if, only for a little.

Growing a beard

beard photo
Photo by James Alby

Now this one is more born out of vanity.  By growing in a little stubble/beard I’ve given myself the illusion of a jawline when I look in the mirror which again helps with the good mood. And now it’s there I can’t ever imagine taking it off! Even the wife has succumbed to saying she now prefers it. By the way that beard isn’t me!

 

 

 

The result

All the above were little changes to my life but they’ve had a big impact. I’m by no means the perfect example of a healthy man but the changes I’ve made have had a significant impact on me and my outlook on life. I’m now steady around 13 stone and comfortable in my routine.  My Achilles heel, snacking, is never too far away and I may find my weight creeping up again but that’s ok as I know when that happens I’ll have the tools and motivation in place to get back on it.

 

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