4/26/2005

Self-Improvement, Part 2

Back about the beginning of February, I mentioned I was trying to lose some weight and replace some of the middle-aged fat with greater muscle mass, via doing some exercises every few evenings (as well as watching my diet, something I've tried to do anyway for years).

Hummph. Some progress made, but not much. Started at 183 pounds, got down to 179 once, but mostly bounced around between 180-182.

Most of the lack of progress is probably because I was intending to do about a half-hour of exercises every other evening before going to bed. In actuality, this tended to be about very third or fourth night; on too many nights, going thru the fairly long checklist of TTDBB (Things To Do Before Bed) kept me up late enough to hit The Wall. ("The Wall" is the point at which your body overrules your good intentions and starts to shut your brain down regardless of whether you're still standing up.) And once you've reached that point, just finishing the last of the TTDBB is a struggle, and the exercises tended to get pushed back to the next night (or the next, or . . .).

So . . . I'm trying something that 1) is a more formal, structured diet/exercise plan, and 2) time-shifts the physical exercise to mornings. Not that there isn't a TTDBGTW (Things To Do Before Going To Work) list too, but at least in the mornings, you start with a full tank of energy, instead of the last few dregs.

The plan is the "8 Minutes In The Morning" routine developed by Jorge Cruise. I've been interested in it for a while, and picked up a copy of the book from Quality Paperback Book Club a few weeks ago.

(It's been available from QPB for a couple of years now. And when I checked Cruise's website, I found he's currently pushing the latest iteration of his fitness program, The Three-Hour Diet, which basically adds smaller, more frequent meals to the 8-Minute program. With my schedule, I'll stick to the original version, thanks.)

The exercise portions of the program are two strength-training exercises, performed with light dumbbells, done each morning. The exercises vary to work different parts of the body each day, rotating on a 28-day cycle. You do a set of 12 of the first exercise. Then, rather than a rest, you move directly to the second exercise and do 12 of that. Repeat three more times, for a total of four sets of each exercise, all within about an eight-minute time period.

(It actually takes a bit longer, since he recommends some running in place beforehand to warm up, and also some cooling-down stretches afterward. But altogether, it shouldn't take more than fifteen or twenty minutes each morning.)

He also has a fairly rigid diet program to follow. It's pretty much based on the Diabetic Food Exchange diet, and the first week ("Quick Start") only allows about 1000 calories per day. After that, you go to a calories/exchange-allotment based on your current weight. (For me, about 1600 calories per day.)

The diet calls for eliminating almost all refined sugars (AIIIEEEEE!!!), most caffeine as well (DOUBLE-AIIIEEEEE!!), and almost all fats except "healthy" ones. Ummm, okay; I've known for a long time that I drink too many sodas, and tend not to watch fats as closely as I should. But, jeezus, my caffeine too?

Cruise also recommends soy milk and soy cheeses in place of regular dairy products. His rationale lies in the possible allergenic reactions to regular dairy. Since I've never had that problem, I think I'll stick to the skim milk I've used for years. (Some of the soy milks aren't bad, but unless soy cheeses have improved a LOT in the fifteen or twenty years since I last tried them, I'll stick to small amounts of regular cheese, thanks.)

He also recommends, as the healthiest oil to use, flax oil, reputedly highest in Omega-3. I picked up a bottle at Sprouts, my local farmers' market/health-food store, to give it a try. Interesting; it had a faint grassy aftertaste, sort of like alfalfa sprouts. Didn't bother me, but some people would probably find it offputting. (Flax oil also apparently breaks down under high heat; Cruise mentions several times that it should be added to hot foods only after they've finished cooking.) Since I take several fish-oil capsules a day, I'm probably getting enough Omega-3 already.

The book also contains a number of motivational messages, and suggests keeping a journal. I think, though, that unless you come to such a program already motivated enough to follow its guidelines, those messages, or a journal won't really help.

(So, umm, why am I writing this post? Because posting my intention, in public, to try the program will help keep me following it more closely than I might otherwise.)

Did the first exercises, and started following the diet, yesterday morning. Starting weight: 180. I'm planning on posting progress reports about once a month. (Consumer-Reports-R-Us!)

8 comments:

Will Shetterly said...

One trick I've discovered: Dining plates have been increasing in size in the last few decades. So hide or give away your dining plates and use salad plates for your meals. You can put all the food you need on a 7 to 8 inch plate, and the plate looks full.

Good luck!

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