Well, I did it. I’ve hit my target weight, 80kgs, for a total loss of 25kgs. Since November (I wasn’t using Strava in September/October, unfortunately), I’ve ran 161.3km and rode 1,493km. Of course, even though I’ve hit my goal weight, this doesn’t mean I’m “done”, not by a long shot. The objective was to get healthy and fit, and part of that was to reach an acceptable goal weight. I still have body fat to drop while maintaining weight - from 20.6% now to 16% ideally. I still also have goals to meet - my midrange goal now is to run the City to Bay run in September. And I still have the goal of staying fit.
Now for some dot points about the experience.
Things I didn’t do (that I’m glad I didn’t)
- I didn’t join a gym. All my exercise was walking, climbing stairs, running outside, cycling, swimming, and some pushups / weight training at free equipment in parks. I did a little treadmill, but I really didn’t like it at all.
- I didn’t starve myself or go on any crazy diets. Analysis with MFP (more on this later) did show I was at a large caloric deficit on ride days, but overall I retained an acceptable (0.5-1.0kg/week) weight loss rate. I instead focused on eating better, and cutting out the junk.
- I didn’t exercise myself to breaking point. As discussed earlier, I’m a big proponent of conserving willpower and maintaining resolve. I made a point of continual, gradual improvement, not running myself to death.
- I didn’t treat the weight loss as the primary goal. My primary goal has always been to get fitter and stronger. Part of that is getting down to a reasonable weight, but honestly for the first few months I didn’t even weigh myself.
Things I did do (that I wish I did earlier!)
- The whole thing. I’m well known for being highly motivated, determined, and wilful once I’ve decided I’m going to do something. If I had decided to do this years ago, I’d be better off. That said, I’ve done it now, and now is better than never.
- Bought proper running shoes. My old shoes were ancient and not right for me (neutrals, but I pronate my ankles). Had I bought new shoes right away, I likely would have avoided a month’s delay from shin splints.
- Recorded progress. I’m a big proponent now of stats collection. Looking back on your progress is always great for motivation, and provides some hard metrics as to how you’re improving. Wish I’d done it from the beginning, although I don’t regret not weighing myself for the first month or so.
- Used MyFitnessPal to track dietary intake. Besides calories, this thing is great for tracking intake of macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbs) for ensuring that not only are you getting enough calories, but they’re also high-quality ones. I’ve only done this for the past month, but I wish I’d done it earlier.
- Adjusted diet to have better-quality calories. I’m not a big fan of the extreme diets that recommend no carbs or no fat or whatever. My thinking is that everything in moderation is going to work better in the long run. That said, if you have a limited caloric budget, you need to ensure that the calories you’re getting are also supplying the nutrients you need and in the right ratios. There’s no point blowing your budget on all sugars and then having nothing left to get the micronutrients that you need. Multivitamins are a supplement, not a substitute for eating properly. Be cautious with stuff like protein shakes as meal replacements, they’re often very short on vital nutrients.
- Let myself hold position if I needed it… A couple of times I overreached on goals, and had to just hold on the last week’s goals to avoid injuries. Rather than push the improvement until something broke, that one week of holding at previous level instead added enough conditioning that I could keep improving without regressing.
- … but also didn’t make excuses. At the same time, if I’d decided to do two runs in a week, I’d do them - raining or not. A couple of times I went early or went slow because it was hot, or moved something to another day because I had to, but I never just flat out didn’t do anything because I didn’t feel like it.
- Set defined goals. Initially, my goals were very simplistic. Get better. Be able to run 400m without nearly fainting. As discussed earlier, keep them reachable and short-term. But don’t stop setting goals.
Well, I’m improving my swimming, and want to get good enough to be able to do laps independently. If I can make 1k in the pool, I’ll be happy as a long term goal. I’ve also got a plan sketched out for training up for the City to Bay run in September, and next year I’d like to do True Grit or Tough Mudder.
But the main objective is to get fitter, stronger, and remain healthy. I’m getting there.