It’s hard to believe I’m now ten months into my fitness journey. Time has seriously flown by.
I remember when I kicked-started this whole thing, I was absolutely shattered after a couple of minutes of jumping around in my kitchen during exercise. High intensity workouts really are a killer when you’re obese and new to exercise, especially when you’re doing 25 minutes a day 6 days a week like I was. Thankfully, I made great progress right from the outset, shedding 7 pounds (that’s half a stone in British terms) in my first week alone.
There had been times where I wasn’t in the mood for exercise for one reason or another, and times when I felt I didn’t have the energy to move a single inch, but somehow I found the motivation to do it. I think that keeping the end goal in mind helped. I didn’t want this to take two or three years or I’d have lost interest, yet I didn’t want to crash diet and shed it all in 6 months, leaving me ill and at risk of gaining it all quickly again. So steady progress was essential.
I managed to keep shedding the pounds at a rate of 1-3 pounds a week, every single week between August 2016 and around new year this year. It slowed down a little after that. You see, up until then I had a plan, I had a structured workout to commit to every single day. I knew which exercises I needed to do in advance, and carefully planned my meals too.
So what happened after new year?
After new year I lost focus a little. I became quite ill when I had my accidental overdose, and had to take time off from fitness. But even after a full recovery I felt lost, not knowing what exercises to do now that I’d finished doing Focus T25. If you don’t know what that means, then I recommend that you read my fitness journey blog right from the start at Part 1 “how I changed my life for the better”. If you’re only just reading about my fitness journey from this article, well, you’ve missed ten months worth of articles and boy have you missed a lot.
The Focus T25 programme which I started last Autumn gave me structure. As I knew what I was doing in advance, I had something to look forward to. But in the new year, I’d reached a stage where I didn’t have a clue what to do from that point onwards.
I wasn’t shifting much weight at all, in fact, I hovered around 195 lbs for months. That’s all because I lost focus and structure. I was picking up my weights and lifting them however I wanted without any thought. I was eating well mostly but kept nibbling on these cheap breakfast cereal bars, and that continued through till around April. Cereal bars may be healthy but it’s too easy to reach for them and snack away late at night. I stopped buying them around 8 weeks ago!
My weight may well have been bouncing up and down, but I could still see a change in my body shape, so I kept doing what I was doing. I knew
A couple of months back I learnt that you can’t just lift weights however you want and whenever you want. There’s a specific way of lifting and lowering, and I can’t emphasise the importance of using weights that push you to your limits either. I went through a period of lifting weights that were just too light, so I didn’t shred the fat nor gain the muscle I had hoped for. I also didn’t realise the importance of tempo; the speed in which you lower and raise the weights, and even the rests you take between each set.
So in April, I changed. I refocused, and found an exercise plan that caught my attention and was one I knew I could stick to. It was a series of fifteen minute high intensity fat-shredding muscle-building workouts that would push me to my limits,raising my heart rate as high as possible whilst staying within my safe zone and at times making me pour with sweat whilst screaming for it to end.
Yes I know this doesn’t sound like a great deal of fun to some people, but when you see that sweat pouring you know you’re making progress, and since the end of April I have made amazing progress.
I suppose the saying “no pain, no gain” is appropriate here.
What progress have I made recently?
As I’ve said previously, the 15 minute workouts have been quite intense, pushing me right to my limit, but it’s been highly enjoyable still.
Initially, I would hand-pick whatever exercises took my fancy from the guide I was using for my workouts. After a week of doing that, I noticed some impressive weight loss and visible changes to my body shape, so I stuck to this plan throughout May.
However, on June 1st I decided to make a minor tweak to my workouts. Instead of randomly choosing exercises from the guide, I decided to use an amazing new app called Seconds to time my workouts carefully and structure them according to muscle groups. The main image at the top of this post shows Seconds being used on my iPad Pro.
You create a timer, give it a name such as Monday Abs & Chest or Tuesday Shoulders and Back and add exercises and their duration to the timer. For example, warm-up for 60 seconds, KB (kettlebell) russian swings for 45 seconds, sit ups for 60 seconds, DB (dumbbell) biceps curl for 45 seconds, cool down for 2 minutes and so forth. It’s a fantastic app and it allows me to program a weeks worth of workouts and choose the music I want in the background. For example, I select Chill Out music for my Sunday Stretches session, and Drum & Bass for my Friday Full Body Workout. The audible beeps inform me of when it’s time to change the exercise. I can see this app being really useful in a gym for a group session too…I love it!
I’ve really enjoyed using my jump rope also for heart pumping cardio on Fridays! I was amazed to see a smart rope on sale in the Apple Store recently. The rope has LED’s in it so that you can see how many jumps you have completed flashed up as a message on the rope in front of you. Sounds great, only it’s expensive, and Amazon reviews show that the LED’s break far too easily. Do we really need a rope that counts for us? Why can’t we just count in our heads? Seems a little gimmicky even for a gadget freak like me.
I’m going to need to jump a lot in order to burn off my birthday cake calories from last week! To be fair I only ate a couple of slices from the 8300 calorie cake, but I could have scoffed the lot. Thankfully, I have kids who were more than happy to finish it off before I got my mouth around the rest of it.
With that said, I did go for a two-hour walk last week which involved me taking almost 16,000 steps that day. I think it’s safe to say the cake calories have well and truly been burnt off now.
Anyway, back to talking about apps… Thanks to an app called “Fitness Journey”, I was able to produce smart charts that show my fitness journey stats to date. The other apps on my iPhone such as the one synced to my Bluetooth scales transfers information such as body fat, body water, visceral fat and muscle mass over to Fitness Journey. Even my Garmin Forerunner 235 watch is capturing steps and heart and transferring that info to my apps and syncing with Fitness Journey. So really, there’s very little manual input from me other than when I’m taking chest, waist, neck, arm and thigh measurements.
You can then see all of this information along with progress images on a timeline so that you can check progress at a quick glance. The smart charts are also impressive. You can view each area of your body stats from BMI to fat, water and muscle in line-chart format. These are my stats (from early June 2017).
When I started on my fitness journey on August 1st 2016, I weighed 231 lbs. that’s 16 stone 7 pounds to us Brits. I am now at 187 lbs, which is a loss of 44 lbs (3 stone 2 pounds).
I am around 6 weeks away from celebrating a year of fitness and weight loss. Will I reach my 175 pound goal? I have something planned for the occasion and I want to share it with YOU soon, so look out for that. The journey continues.