I am not going to sugarcoat it. Despite all the wonderful stuff happening in my career and personal life, I am far from a success in fitness. I’m almost middle aged. And at five-foot-ten, weighing 215 lbs, my body mass index is a roughly 31!
How I got to this point is both subtile and obvious. Subtle because gaining excessive weight has taken me ten years to achieve. Obvious because I got into the common habit of eating (and drinking) more and moving less. Looking back, it’s easy to see how an overabundance of bread, chips and salsa, french fries, donuts and alcohol led me to this point. I also eat out frequently and that doesn’t help. On top of this, my stress levels are high and I don’t really sleep much at night.
When you look at the image above, I look pretty okay by most standards. (It also helps that I’m wearing a baggy shirt.) But according to a number of medical professionals, at five-foot-ten my BMI reveals my weight is above the healthy range for my height. And this puts me higher than average risk for acquiring some sort of obesity related disease. Fun times.
More than the health benefits, emotionally there are some things that don’t feel right. For starters, over the past year my beautiful wife has surprised me on a few occasions with awesome dress shirts. Problem is, even though she bought the large size, they don’t fit. This alone is motivation to take action. But if I’m really being transparent with you (which is the goal of sharing this fitness journey), the most embarrassing aspect of the extra weight is a set of man boobs. Man boobs!
Suffice it to say, this is my wake up call.
Because I want to live to at least 85 years old and still have youthful mobility (and be present for my wife and family), I figured NOW was a good enough time to change the way I eat, live and sleep. My goal in sharing this very personal journey is to help keep me motivated, while at the same time provide you with inspiration for your own life. Perhaps together we can both achieve some measure of fitness success.
From Failure To Success In Fitness
My fitness goal is to drop 45lbs of fat. That will put me square at 170 LBS, adjusting my body mass index to 24.4, which is right around the normal range. I’ll then fit into my shirts and feel better about myself. Instead of getting overly complex, I’m going to achieve these heath and productivity goals by replacing bad habits with good habits.
Daily Habits To Cut:
- Alcohol Intake: I won’t get into it here. But I’ve spent too much of my life enjoying too much alcohol. And while my version of “rock bottom” involved embarrassing myself in a chance meeting with Rob Pattinson (which I’ll share some other time)… If I am going to change, I have to get real. Alcohol has mad me fat. So I need to take a break.
- Eating Bread: Yes. I get it. Oprah loves bread. And while I can’t speak for her journey, I love bread too. A little too much. And I also love donuts. And while I’m thinking about it, I also cannot stop eating tortilla chips. So these need to go.
- Internet and TV: Bottom line, I spend too much time watching stuff. This is time I could be spending with my wife, dog or working on a new project. So I’m cutting Internet and TV.
- Stop Complaining: I’m not sure how this will help my physical health. But I’m pretty sure by cutting down on my complaining (about politics, a challenging work day or life) I’m going to start thinking clearer thoughts.
- Avoid Toxic People: This is a little harsh. But you become the average of the five people you spend the most time with. My goal is to only spend time with people who lift me up, and not put me down.
Daily Habits To Keep:
- 30 Squats and 30 Pushups: This may seem overly simplistic. But I wanted to create at least one daily fitness goal I could stick to without much effort. And being able to accomplish this one should be super easy.
- Update Filmmaking Stuff: Outside of this blog, I run a popular blog in the filmmaking space. And I’m resolving to update my subscribers with at least one article, podcast, video, or webinar training every day. This will help me become a faster writer and should also increase brand lift.
- Update This Blog: I’m also resolving to update this site every day. In truth, for the next 90 days, I’ll be updating this very article. So this makes life easer. By the end, I should have at least 10,000 words.
- Networking: Each day I’ve resolved to reach out and connect with someone just beyond my reach. My primary goal here is to meet and build relationships with new people. But I will also reach out to old friends too.
- Record Food Intake: I am using MyFitnessPal. And I plan to meticulously record every morsel of food I ingest.
Additionally, I’ve decided to make this one of those giant run-on articles that I update every day. This will enable me to continually share my progress with you, while holding myself accountable. The following is my personal account of what it takes to get healthy. (At the time of writing, I have no idea if these changes will work.)
Day 1 – JAN 08, 2019: No Sleep and No Coffee / 215 LBS
I’m still jet lagged from our European Cruise. My wife and I went to bed at 9PM and I woke up at 2:45AM, fully awake and ready to start the first day of the new me. In taking on my self challenge, I decided to also add a few supplements to my diet. Before the holiday, an acquaintance sold me on Thrive by Le-Vel.
With this supplement, you start your morning by taking a Thrive Lifestyle Capsule on an empty stomach. Then later, you down a packet of the Thrive Premium Lifestyle Mix, and also slap on a Thrive Premium Lifestyle DFT. Aside from a pretty tasty shake, people online report more mental clarity and a reduced appetite for sweets. Since I have a strong desire for sweets and snacks, I figured a little Thrive couldn’t hurt. But I’m still tired…
Day 2 – JAN 09, 2019: Weight loss Already / 214 LBS
You probably noticed I keep listing my weight with each update. This is a very limited metric. If I was a real fitness nerd (which I am not) I’d probably also measure muscle mass and body fat percentage. With that said, I’m still setting my ideal weight goal at 170 lbs. This is totally arbitrary and not backed by science. But it at least gives me some sort of number to work towards.
That said, I really do want to improve my health. But I’m also human. It’s a dumb idea to beat myself up over a past lack of dietary discipline. I can only focus on the future. Suffice it to say, I’m taking this opportunity to evaluate my patterns and find ways to gradually improve. This is where mini habits add up. Squats. Push ups. Thrive. Write. Don’t complain.
Day 3 – JAN 10, 2019: Up At 4AM… UGH / 213 LBS
I never feel like exercising. But I am now thinking about exercise and healthy eating a lot more than usual. This is probably because it’s only day number three. And I really haven’t changed all that much. But I like the idea of sharing with you. That holds me accountable. Except I drank a pot of coffee and ate a bunch of peanut M&M’s for breakfast. This led to a whole day of snacking and bad food choices. Then by the time evening rolled around, I was too tired to do much.
Years ago, I signed up for a $250 monthly gym membership, imagining that the added expense would motivate me to rise with the sun, hit the weights and train like Rocky. That lasted for about three days. After that, my attendance dropped to about once every other week. I thought about reenrolling… But then I decided my $30 dollar membership at LA Fitness would suffice.
Day 4 – JAN 11, 2019: No Sleep Until Tomorrow? / 211 LBS
My brain is still in Italy. And as a result, I keep falling asleep around 9PM and waking up (wide awake) in the early morning hours. This is good for productivity. But I fear it’s going to have some detrimental consequences on my health. Maybe it’s all the peanut M&M’s I’ve been eating? Maybe it’s my body crying out for alcohol, bread, donuts and tortilla chips? Regardless, I’m committed to the plan.
Speaking of commitments… Prior to this experiment, I registered to run a half marathon. I’ll be raising one thousand dollars for Pancreatic Cancer research. This will be the third time I’ve run a half marathon. (Prior to this, I’ve run three marathons.) And as a result, I’ll be meeting with a running group every Saturday. This does two things. It keeps me accountable and it also provides much needed exercise.
Day 5 – JAN 12, 2019: Eight Mile Run / 212 LBS
Last night I had a huge Mexican dinner and completely avoided chips and salsa, and margaritas. While I didn’t break the new habit, it wasn’t easy. When I got home, I promptly fell into a deep sleep… And then I woke up, fully alert and ready to crush the day – At 3AM! This is a level of energy I haven’t felt in a long time.
That was my thought while I presently laced my running shoes for an eight mile training run. Just in case you’re looking to run long distances, the secret is interval training. When I run, I do one minute of running, followed by one minute of walking. This allows for bursts of energy during the run, and adequate recovery during the walk.
Day 6 – JAN 13, 2019: Binge Eating / 215 LBS
I gained weight since yesterday. After running eight miles, I slipped into the common (but stupid) mindset that I earned the right to eat whatever I wanted. So I promptly polished off a HUGE box of peanut M&Ms and washed down a ginormous lunch with two cans of Coke! Obviously I’m replacing beer and tortilla chips with soda and candy. And it needs to stop.
When you set goals, it’s important to hold yourself accountable. When you miss the mark, you can assess what went wrong and make a plan to prevent it from happening again. In this case, had I actually used MyFitnessPal, I probably would have stopped eating junk before I started. Tomorrow is another day and a new opportunity to get back on track.
Day 7 – JAN 14, 2019: Eating Less / 213 LBS
I’m now working to cut down on the soda and candy. I’m not totally eliminating these goodies, because trying to quit everything all at once would be too overwhelming for me. But as I mentioned yesterday, I’m now meticulously tracking everything in MyFitnessPal. And I won’t let myself go overboard.
When it comes to setting goals, most people make the mistake of focusing on the hows over the whys. But I find that if you focus on the whys, the how to’s will fall into place. So the reason WHY I’m focused on fitness is simple: I want to fit in my clothing. I want to have energy for my wife (and eventual kids), business and also, I want to be super fit late in life. Health is your first wealth.
Week Two Of The Fitness Challenge
Before we start on week two, I wanted to share two tools I’m using to track my progress and hold myself accountable. One major tool I’m using is called MyFitnessPal. This app allows me to track my food intake, set goals and it also integrates nicely with my Apple Watch and Apple Health app. There is also a built in social media component where I can share my progress and communicate with friends.
The other tool I’m using is some “Don’t Break The Chain” calendars. This method was supposedly used by Jerry Seinfeld early in his career so he could consistently write new jokes. It’s basically a calendar where you set ONE goal and then you place an X on the day if you achieved the goal. Over time your X’s look like a chain XXXXXX. If you miss a day, you need to start over.
Here is a wall calendar you can grab from Amazon, if you’re interested.
Perhaps I went a little overboard, but I now have a “Don’t Break The Chain” calendar for EVERY goal on my list. While I don’t expect overnight results, I do think this practice combined with MyFitnessPal should get me somewhere eventually.
Day 8 – JAN 15, 2019: Slow Progress / 212 LBS
Since starting this whole adventure, my weight hasn’t dropped much. But my pants have. I share this because after spending much of my morning repeatedly pulling up my pants, I left my office and bought a new pair. I’ve gone from a thirty-three inch waste size to a thirty-two. This is significant because I haven’t fit into a thirty-two in like forever.
I once heard a motivational speaker say something like: “How you do one thing, is how you do everything.” And I’m starting to understand the meaning. When I accomplish my morning routine (30 push ups, 30 squats, followed by my Thrive supplements), I don’t want to mess up good habits by eating junk.
Day 8 – JAN 16, 2019: Always Hungry / 211 LBS
I’m two weeks into the this whole “new me” experience. As a general assessment, introducing Thrive into my diet has me thinking clearer. And because of the caffeine, I’m no longer consuming gallons of coffee. But as I found, it is super easy to Thrive in the morning. But as my day goes on, hunger builds and I end up snacking on garbage.
To help alleviate food cravings, my wife and I purchased a few bags of cashews, almonds and dried kale. Suffice it to say, I plan to spend the remainder of this challenge devouring copious amounts of these “natural” foods. But I’m also super fearful that this substitution will also result in weight gain… And that begs the question: “Why not drink a beer and have a donut?”
Day 8 – JAN 17, 2019: I’m Sick And Cranky / 211 LBS
I have a cold. And I’m cranky. This isn’t a complaint, just a fact. When you don’t feel well, the last thing you want to do is morning squats and push ups. But that’s what I did. Then I went to a breakfast meeting, followed by a full day at the office… It happened to be my two year work anniversary. And to celebrate, the other employees brought donuts – Which I politely skipped.
I’m typing these words right now because I have to. After this, I’m going to down a bunch of NyQuil and sleep for as many hours as possible. Hopefully I’ll wake up tomorrow anew. And the lesson for today is this: Accountability is doing the stuff you need to do, even when you don’t feel like doing it.
Day 8 – JAN 18, 2019: Sick and Flying / 211 LBS
I was invited to speak at a film festival in Chandler, Arizona. My head pounded the entire like crazy. Add an unstoppable runny nose, and you might think I’m ready to complain. I’m not. I don’t do that. Instead I was happy to get settled in the hotel. Normally I’d be at the film festival party, but I decided to stay in and relax uninterrupted.
I was still working for Lehman Brothers the last time I was in Arizona for business. They put me up at the Ritz Carlton. And I remember feeling a certain sense of privilege getting a chocolate croissant delivered to my room. I had no idea we were just a few short weeks away from economic collapse. We thought we were too big to fail. And my big head echoed this sentiment.
Come back soon for next installment…