Getting In Shape: The New Me
I have recently gotten in great shape, have lost a lot of weight, and am writing this to preempt any thoughts that I may be in ill health due to a sudden and pronounced loss of weight. Not only am I healthy, I am in the best physical condition in years.
This is a before and after story.
I had been working very long hours for years following world news, preparing the Crash Course, writing the book, and running a small business essentially solo, for years. Unsurprisingly, I found myself with the sort of body one might predict for someone who sat behind a computer for up to 14 hours a day, day after day.
And then something happened.
Without going into the details -- although I will reiterate that it was nothing health related -- I was presented with an opportunity to take a close look at my life. At times like these, you can either ignore the call to action or heed it. This time I chose to face life head on.
Here are the headlines: Over the past four months I have lost about 35 pounds and now fit into a pants size last associated with my early 30's. Having just turned 49, I find this to be a welcome development.
Of course, being in shape makes a lot of sense if one buys my view of the future, which I certainly do. So falling out of shape was gnawing at my personal sense of integrity and responsibility to myself, my family, and my larger community.
Well, that's all in the past.
Here are the before and after photos:
If I had to sum up this transformation in a short sentence, it would be I feel more alive. My stamina and desire for exercise are up sharply, and I find I have far more energy for everything I do. I am more spontaneous and have more vitality and joy in my life.
If you are interested in hearing my super-easy, secret weight loss and life-enhancing plan, I have bad news for you: I did not rely on any pills, gimmicks, fasting, or anything like that.
The exact steps were these:
1. On June 2nd, I gave up drinking alcohol under any circumstances. This cut out a lot of empty calories, as evening cocktails had become a part of my routine. It was not nearly as difficult as I thought it was going to be, based on the experiences of others I know who have struggled with giving up drinking. As with all habits, after 28 days the Pavlovian urges that previously showed up between the hours of 5 and 7 p.m. went entirely away. Once those were gone, the remaining difficult moments, such as they were, happened while at my usual vacation haunts and social events, where drinking and unwinding have traditionally gone hand in hand. Currently I have no plans to resume drinking, but I may consider doing so at some point, especially for select wines during excellent meals. Or maybe not. I am leaning towards waiting a full year just out of principle. At any rate, the urge to drink is now a very infrequent visitor to my life, and there is no sense of loss or the requirement for daily willpower.
2. Eating. Here I did something completely radical and decided to actively poll my body about what and how much it wanted to eat before and during eating. It is now common for me to open the door to the fridge, peer at the contents, and close it without getting anything to eat, simply because my body does not register any interest. Additionally, I have found that my body is satisfied with far smaller portions than my brain was accustomed to dishing out. Nothing fancy here. Simple portion control. The thing is, this new approach to food has never felt like an effort of control or a battle, I simply let my body have the first and final say.
3. Exercise. I now either bike a minimum of 10 miles four times a week (a timed lap where I race against my old times...it's 38 minutes of hard breathing) or hike/run a nearby small mountain, which has a ~40 minute loop from bottom to top and back again (roughly 800 feet in elevation gain to the top). Sometimes I go six days a week. Again, my body lets me know how much and how often. Since I am the competitive sort, I keep split times of whatever loop I am doing and always try to match or beat my best times. For example, back when I started the mountain run, my times were in the vicinity of 1 hour and 5 minutes. Then I beat the hour mark. Then I cracked the 55-minute barrier. Then the 50-minute mark. Then 47...then 43 (which stood for some time) and then I finally broke the 40-minute mark, then 39 and now I am stuck at 38.5. On top of this, I am lifting light weights nearly every day...they sit on the carpet in my office and I pick them up frequently because they are right there, in my way.
There's really nothing fancy here: It's just good, old-fashioned "eating less and exercising more." That's it. And it feels really good and is in integrity with my larger mission in life.
Most importantly, the 'old me' -- the one that had slowly gotten buried over time -- has reemerged. I have rediscovered old passions and joys that had fallen by the wayside as I single-mindedly pursued my mission to create a world worth inheriting. Balance has returned, along with my zest for rock climbing, biking, and exploring the outdoors. Heck, even the old guitar has been coming out of the case and getting strummed regularly.
The Road Ahead
As I look to the future, there are a number of possible scenarios where emotional and physical health and balance will be important determinants of whether the experience is miserable or enjoyable. As always, I plan to not only thrive physically in whatever future comes, but also to continue to enjoy life as much as possible.
Under a variety of scenarios, the future might involve a lot more physical labor than today for us to be able to sustain ourselves. However, regardless of which future arrives, whether it be utterly benign or incredibly intense, being in shape is a benefit to our daily lives. There's just no downside to it, no matter what happens next. I feel the same way about my solar hot water heaters.
I am offering up my story of physical transformation here because everything I have done so far in creating this site has been backed by my personal actions. I do not just write about downsizing, saving, investing in gold/silver, creating community, gardening, and all the other steps of resiliency. I practice each of them as well. Or rather, I practice them first and then write about them.
I regularly receive emails and other feedback from people who describe how important it is that the message(s) of change found on this site are complemented by real-world, verifiable actions that are in alignment with those messages.
As a matter of integrity, we walk the talk around here. We do what we say and we say what we do. So the correct course of action for me was to get in shape and then talk about it.
If there's anything we can now do to help support you in your quest to become more physically fit, whatever your motivation, let us know. We would be glad to assist in any way we can.