Tag: Exercise

The Beatings Will Continue…

The beatings will continue until moral improves

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Ok now I’m really mad. No, not mad – pissed. And frustrated. And depressed. And defeated. And I don’t know what to do.

No, this is not a cry for help or any bullshit drama like that so don’t get your panties all in a bunch. I hurt my back – again. Actually, it’s more than that. I think I’ve hit my physical low point. I’ve clearly got some sort of chronic back issue now. I have some new stomach issues that I’ll spare you the details of. And I’m fat. There’s no point in tip toeing around it – there’s way too much jiggle wiggle when I walk. We’re rapidly approaching sports bra territory (don’t be offended, I’m not misgendering anyone with 13 pronouns in their bio – it’s simply beer and nacho man-boobs) All in all, I just don’t feel good. Haven’t for a while.

I don’t understand how this happened. Well, I do – bad diet, too many calories, inactivity, poor posture, zero mobility training, and lack of strength training. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, everything is great! The part I don’t understand is why I can’t snap out of it. Why can’t my brain finally say, “ok you’ve had some fun, now it’s time to get back to work”?

This is approximately the 1,023 time I’ve thrown down the gauntlet and declared, now I’m really serious. Like the old saying about smoking – Quitting smoking is easy. I’ve done it hundreds of times. The irony is that every one of my most liked posts on this blog are related to resolutions and health. I’m going Keto! I’m exercising! Look at my new diet! I did a sit-up! The problem is that my follow up on all those resolutions lasts about three days. It often pains me to think about this blog. For reasons I don’t understand, almost all my followers are health and fitness related folks. And I am not healthy or fit. When someone likes a health-related post or HealthyFitMotivations1443 starts following me, it’s a painful reminder that I’m not actually doing what I write about.

I’m angry at myself and concerned. I’m worried about my ability to reverse this trend. If I feel like this now, what am I going to feel like in 10 years? That scares me. I don’t know what to do about it. Well, I do know what I need to do… I just don’t know how to keep doing it.

At the end of the day, what I need is motivation, routine, and habit. How do I get my ass to walk into my garage gym every damn morning and do the work I need to be doing? It needs to become a non-negotiable part of my daily life. I don’t know how to make that happen.

If anyone has any magic secrets to building motivation and discipline, can you help a brother out? Otherwise, I may have to resort to posting shame pictures of me in a speedo all over the house as a reminder to go to the gym and to stop me from opening the fridge (again). And nobody wants that. An image you can’t unsee.

Hmmm, I think I just found my next business venture. A service you sign up for in which I call you twice a day and demand proof you worked out and ate well. Otherwise, I’ll berate you mercilessly and yell at you that you’re worthless and weak. The next day you’ll get three calls and ten nagging text messages. The abuse will continue until discipline improves.

That could work. I’d sign up for it. Meanwhile, I need to walk down to the gym. Wish me luck.

I’m A Cheater

It’s not something you really want to admit. But confession is good for the soul, or something like that. So here goes… I’ve been cheating. Now in my defense, I didn’t realize I’d been cheating. Let me explain. If you haven’t been breathlessly following my every post, I’d recently written about a life altering change – I switched from clip-in pedals to flat pedals on the mountain bike.

TL;DR – I love them and don’t know why I didn’t switch earlier. But it has exposed one flaw. You have to constantly keep more pressure, or force, on the pedals otherwise your foot will slide off. So now I’m generally pushing a harder gear than I’m used to. What I’ve discovered is that with the clip-in pedals I was able to “relax” quite a bit when pedaling. While my legs were going around, I was essentially coasting far more than I realized. If I try that now, my feet come off the pedals.

So I was cheating at the effort I was putting in and didn’t know it. I could never figure out why my climbing speed never seemed to improve. Now that I have no choice but to push hard, presto, my speed and power output are much greater than before. Crazy how that works.

We all cheat, we just don’t like to admit it. I’ve never had much upper body strength, my shoulder is kinda jacked up, so I suck at things like push-ups. So what do I do? I ignore doing push-ups because I don’t like them and can’t do very many. Unfortunately, push-ups are exactly what I should be doing. How many of you are avoiding doing the things you know, deep down, you should be doing?

Confronting our flaws and weak points is hard. If it was easy, we’d already be doing them. But the older I get, the more I wish I’d been stronger about conquering my weaknesses when I was younger. But you’re never too old to start. Deep down, you know what your weak points are.

So pick one. Resolve today that you’re going to start working on it. You’ll thank yourself later. So now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to see if I can do a push-up. Don’t laugh. I’m pretty sure this will look like the Bill Murry push-up scene from the movie Stripes. But you’ve gotta start somewhere, right?

A Life Altering Change

There are a few big moments in everyone’s life that are remembered. Graduation. First “real” job. Getting married. First kid. Events that will always stay in your mind. I had one of those events happen this week. You’re never really ready for the impact these life changes will have. I will remember this first week of September for many years to come. It was the week I switched to flat pedals and added a dropper post to the mountain bike.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Dude, the change to flat pedals has been around for years now – you’re just now switching? I know, I know. I’m a little slow to adapt the latest and greatest in tech. I’m old fashioned and, honestly, don’t like spending money. My clip-in pedals from the 90’s have been working just fine. Why spend money on new pedals and shoes just because it’s what all the kids are doing now? Besides, the duct tape holding my shoe together is working just fine.

So what was the catalyst that spawned this momentous change? I went for a ride on a trail I hadn’t ridden since last summer that’s pretty technical, rocky, and had a rather steep drop-off on one side. I was riding and had a wobble over a loose rock, couldn’t get my foot out of the clip-in pedal and nearly tumbled down the steep edge. That’s really never happened to me before. This summer, for the first time, I can tell my balance isn’t what it used to be. Age is starting to kick in and my reflexes are just not as cat-like as they once were. I accept it and I’m actively working on improving it. But the reality is that I’m a long way from twenty and I can no longer just assume balance and coordination will save my bacon every time.

So I bit the bullet and took my bike into the shop. New pedals, shoes, and a seat post I can drop when going downhill at ludicrous speed. I immediately went back to that same rocky trail to see if the changes made a difference. It was night and day. Like riding a completely different bike. Why I didn’t do this five years ago is beyond me. I had more confidence in the technical stuff and was able to finally get my butt back and over the rear wheel properly. Wow.

You’d think I’d have learned my lesson when I finally upgraded to modern skis several years ago and realized that there was no comparison between old school and modern technology. Apparently being an old-school traditionalist (i.e. cheap) doesn’t ever go away.

So the lesson is, if your stuff is more than five years old – do yourself a favor and investigate what the latest and greatest is. Technology is moving at a rapid rate. If something makes life easier, you’ll be more likely to go out and do the thing. And that’s good. Oh, and work on your balance. Today. Everyday. It’s a perishable commodity. Use it or lose it as they say.

An Unexpected Lesson From Tragedy

The other day I was surfing through YouTube before I went to bed. It was getting late and I was looking for just one more video to watch before retiring. A thumbnail came up that I’d seen several times the past few days but had ignored because it was almost two hours in length, and I just wasn’t terribly interested in it. It was an analysis of what went wrong at the Uvalde school shooting by a guy named Mike Glover.

If you’re not familiar with him or his YouTube channels, Mike Glover is a former Green Baret with 18 combat deployments. He’s clearly been there, done that. He now provides tactical training to law enforcement. The failure of law enforcement in this scenario was horrific. Here’s a link to that analysis if you’re interested. I ended up watching the entire thing and going to bed way too late.

Out of everything he said, one thing towards the end really struck me. He was commenting on all the sexy “kit” the officers had on. We’ve dumped truckloads of money on police departments so they can outfit themselves as quasi-military units. They’ve got the ballistic helmets, plate carriers, ballistic shields, even wearing military style fatigues and boots. But in this case, none of them did anything with their fancy equipment while kids were being shot and left to die. They stood around, checking phones, getting hand sanitizer, and waiting for someone to tell them what to do. Mike’s comment was:

“Everyone wants to be an operator until it comes time to do operator shit”

That lesson is so true and can be applied to almost everything. Everyone wants to lose weight and look better (myself included), but very few want to put in the time in the weight room and or do serious cardio. You want to be a writer? Are you getting up and cranking out 1000 words every day? You want to be a YouTube star? How many hours a day do you spend learning and perfecting the filming, editing, and storytelling? You want to climb the corporate ladder? What are you doing to improve your skills and value daily?

We all want to be or do something. Only a small percentage of our society actually wants to do the work to achieve those things. I get it. I’m in that same boat. I kinda half-ass things. Sometimes I’m motivated, sometimes I’m not. Shockingly, it’s when I’m motivated that I get/achieve what I want. Crazy how that works.

Buying fancy gear, joining the latest fitness or diet fad, or subscribing to the killer new app is all great… but it doesn’t do diddly-squat if you don’t do the work. Another great example comes from David Goggins, who’s a crazy over the top, type-A overachiever. But he didn’t start out that way. He was a fat, lazy pest exterminator working nights and eating doughnuts. He had an epiphany one night, quit his job, went to a navy recruiter and said, “I want to be a navy seal”. The recruiter laughed and said you’re 100 pounds overweight. He’d have a very short few months to lose it if he wanted to actually attempt to qualify.

Spoiler alert – he did and went on to a successful career as a navy seal. When asked what program he used and what diet he followed to lose all the weight, he said “I stopped eating so fucking much and ran every day until I collapsed”. Simplicity. But the real reason was that he was willing to put in the work.

We all want something. How many of us are actually willing to do what it takes to get it? Very few. It’s a metaphor that struck home for me. Hopefully it’ll light a spark under my butt to get after it. Even at my advanced age, there are still things I want to achieve. But how bad do I really want them?

Everyone wants to be an operator until it comes time to do operator shit.

Exercise Your Brain

Everyone’s heard of the old saying, “use it or lose it”. It can refer to many things, but one of the more important references is to the brain. The brain is massive collection of brain cells, or neurons. These neurons are constantly communicating with each other. If a brain cell is no longer continually communicating with its neighbors, it will lose its function. This is the “cognitive reserve” theory. Meaning, a high-capacity brain – a brain with high cognitive reserve – has plenty of healthy brain cells and those brain cells maintain a lot of connections with other brain cells. A brain with low cognitive reserve has fewer connections and fewer healthy cells.

This is obviously important for many reasons, but one of the biggest is aging. You will experience cognitive decline as you get older. It happens to all of us. What’s important is to slow down or minimize the rate of decline for as long as possible. You do that by maintaining a high cognitive reserve going into old age, and then continually work to build new connections. Otherwise known as – NEVER STOP LEARNING!

When I was 50, I’d burned out badly in my first career (software engineering) and decided to make a change. I went back to school and got my RN/nursing license. I can 100% say that the rate at which I was able to absorb and memorize information was massively slower at 50 than it was when I was a young whippersnapper. That first six months of working on the hospital floor pushed my old brain to its limits. Rapid thinking, decision making, multitasking, and learning new skills daily left me mentally exhausted every night. But I also think it improved my ability to learn and think. Maybe not back at the level it was when I was 20, but certainly an improvement over when I started the process.

It’s never too late to start. Always be learning something. Read something other than Facebook posts. Take up a new hobby. Learn a new skill. Anything, all of it – just start exercising that brain. As a neuroscience RN, trust me – the various forms of dementia are one of the saddest ways you can finish out your life. It’s devastating for the patient and the family. While there’s many things that contribute to it, it is undisputed that starting out with the highest cognitive reserve possible will help stave off or at least significantly slow the progression of dementia.

My latest choice to keep exercising the brain (and the reason I’ve been absent here for a while), is learning video editing. It’s a high-end technical pursuit that has been super challenging. There are so many aspects to learn – editing/creative skills, color grading, audio mixing, and understanding how a video file is rendered and processed. The learning curve has been painfully slow, but is starting to ramp up. Each time I learn a new technique I feel like I’ve just left the gym. A little tired, but also a little bit stronger. Building those new neural connections daily.

You owe it to yourself and your family to exercise that brain. As Dean Wormer told Flounder, “Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life son”. Listen to the Dean. Go learn something new today.

If you’re bored, check out what I’ve been slowly working on. Maybe it’ll inspire you to take up motorcycling!

Dean Wormer

Why Is Diet So Confusing?

I will confess that I have been known to get sucked into drinking the Kool-Aid from time to time. Beliefs, approaches, or fads that I was convinced was the one true path. I talked ’em up and spoke with authority about them. I even had a bit of condescension towards people who didn’t know, understand, or believe in the new great thing. Fools who still bought into the old school set of beliefs. Here’s a few of the things that I’ve thought were the end-all-be-all in the past. I’m not suggesting any of them are bad – just that as thinking evolves, they’re not the magic bullets I once believed them to be at the time.

  • Barefoot shoes and running.
  • Crossfit.
  • Keto.
  • Intermittent fasting.
  • Primal/caveman
  • Body For Life
  • Zone diet
  • 5/6 small meals per day
  • Foam rolling
  • Apple cider vinegar (I have no idea why I thought this was a magical thing)

And on, and on, and on. Even though I think I’m being a rebel and cutting edge, I realize I’m just as much of a lemming as anyone else following the latest fitness and diet fad. Meanwhile, I was happily making fun of people eating the cabbage soup diet, doing juice cleanses, or the Whole 30 diet. Why is it so damn hard to know what you’re supposed to be doing to lose or maintain weight?

Meanwhile, my trainer wants me eating more calories because my BMR is too low, and I need a massive increase in the amount of protein I consume. Zone 2 is best for aerobic improvements, and carbohydrates are now good.

Sigh. I don’t know what to think anymore. My body fat percentage is getting worse, but my muscle mass is the best it’s been in a very long time. I feel stronger and better balanced now, but I can’t button the waistband on most of my pants. Why is this so hard? I just want someone to give me a weekly menu with exact portion sizes that’s easy to make/prepare. And yes, I’ve Googled that exact thing. A billion results come up, all with conflicting information, or promise to be the perfect diet plan… for $29.99 a month.

Why is diet so difficult? Why can’t I find a way of eating that gives me enough of a routine to keep calories in control, yet lets me eat out from time to time? I clearly don’t have the discipline to eat “strict” all the time or count calories daily. So, does that mean my only choice is to constantly keep up a crazy amount of workout/cardio activity to balance it? At my age, I don’t know that I have that in me anymore.

Our grandparents did not calculate out their daily macros, walk around all day with giant BPA free water flasks, or worry about zone 2 training. Yet on whole, their generation did not have the obesity problem we have today. Maybe that’s the book I should write – “The WWII Generations Guide to Diet and Exercise”. I’ll make a fortune!

But then again, my grandfather’s favorite exercise machine was a vibrating belt you’d put around your waist. I have no idea what its actual purpose was. To jiggle the fat away? To be fair, we have kinesio tape today. Maybe we haven’t evolved as far as we think?

Never Miss Twice

I stumbled upon another piece of advice a few weeks ago that I really like. It applies to diet, exercise, and being a secret agent ninja sniper. Nobody has perfect discipline. At some point you’re going to go over on your calorie count because you accidently fell into a plate of nachos. Or you’ll miss a workout because you left your muddy shoes on the porch and didn’t feel like putting on cold shoes in the morning. It happens. That’s ok. You’re human. The key is to not let it happen twice in a row.

Unless you’ve inadvertently joined the military and a drill instructor is yelling at you 24/7, it’s hard to be strict. Life happens. You travel, the folks in the office invite you out for drinks, someone has a birthday, holidays… there’s plenty of reasons you fall off the diet and exercise wagon. I’ve been having a love/hate relationship with keto for that very reason. For me, it works. I also hate how strict it is and rebel constantly with a burger, and then berate myself and struggle to get going again. The key is to not beat yourself up. You ate half a bag of Fritos and skipped going to the gym to binge watch all 103 seasons of Beverly Hills 90210. That’s bad, but not fatal. Just don’t repeat it tomorrow.

The habit killer is to do it twice in a row. My favorite justification is “starting on Monday”. It’s obviously ridiculous to start a gym routine or diet on a Wednesday. Who does that? You start on Monday. Everyone knows that. It’s now Thursday and I just ate Taco Bell, so this week is clearly ruined. Since there’s no point in starting now, I’m just going to eat bad through the weekend to get it out of my system. After all, I’m starting my workout and diet on Monday. Sound familiar?

You’ve blown it. Either by accident or by choice. Just don’t do it twice. A pretty smart guy I follow advocates what he calls “Fat Loss Sprints”. He acknowledges that very few people have the discipline to eat at caloric deficit every day for three or six months. But that’s what we set ourselves up for – I’m going to lose this much weight by summer. And several weeks into it you look ahead at four more months of restricted eating and get discouraged. What he likes instead is creating diet “sprints”. Be super strict for three weeks for example. Hit that goal and then take several weeks off and eat at a maintenance level (which doesn’t mean nachos every day). Then do another diet sprint. Several weeks is doable. Months are too overwhelming. Sure, the weight loss may be slightly slower, but it will be a sustainable lifestyle.

Always forward. You’re going to trip. You’re going to stumble. But you keep putting one foot in front of the other. The cumulative effect of diet and exercise over the long term is more important than any one day or meal. Had a moment of weakness? Just don’t repeat it with the next meal. Skipped the gym in the morning? Go for a walk after dinner, and don’t skip tomorrow.

Never miss twice.

I Don’t Care About Weight

Last night Mrs Troutdog told me that she thinks I’m obsessed with my weight and is convinced I’m trying to get back to what I weighed in high school. Ouch. I probably got a little defensive at that, but there is some truth to what she said. Just not in the way she thinks. (Like most males, communication is not my strong point)

I don’t care what I weigh. Honest. What I do care about is body fat percentage and BMI. Healthy numbers are around the low 20’s for both categories. But nobody talks about those numbers. (Hey girl, that BMI is looking mighty fine. wink, wink) We tend to incorrectly use weight as a proxy for “health”. I want to get to a sustainable body fat/BMI level that’s considered to be just barely in the fitness category. Having achieved it before, I know what number on the scale corresponds to a healthy body fat percentage for my body frame and current muscle mass. So therefore, it’s easiest when talking about goals to simply say that I’m trying to get to a certain weight.

If I could put on 20 pounds of muscle, the number on the scale would be much higher when I reached my body fat/BMI goal (but very unrealistic without the aid of HGH, T, and possibly steroids). I don’t care what the number on the scale is – I’d be perfectly happy to walk around at 220 pounds as long as my body fat was 18%. Is there some vanity associated with this? Sure. I’m human. Who doesn’t want to look great strolling down the beach? But at my age that’s a much, much smaller motivation than it was when I was younger. What I do care about is health and longevity. And I’m more and more scared about it.

At my hospital the overwhelming majority of the people I see are there as a result of weight and a lack of strength and balance. People in their 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s who can’t lift themselves off the toilet. Folks who can’t wipe themselves, trim their toenails, or tie shoelaces due to a lack of flexibility and obesity. They are so deconditioned and weak that navigating steps, reaching for something in the cupboard, or bending down to pick something up is a dangerous minefield. They fall and break hips or suffer brain bleeds when their head hits the floor. And when that happens, more often than not it’s the beginning of the end. They get placed in a rehab facility, then a skilled nursing home. And within six months to a year… they’re done.

I don’t want that. I want to be active and participating in sports as long as I can. I don’t want someone to have to tie my shoes for me when I’m 80. And I’m scared. This is the first year that I really noticed my balance is diminishing. Strength is less than it was. I became aerobically deconditioned incredibly fast during these last two years of covid-induced inactivity. And yes, the weight poured on faster than it ever has. My body fat percentage increased 6% and my BMI ballooned into the overweight category. That’s why I seem obsessed with weight at the moment.

I am determined to not let sloth get the better of me. I desperately need to develop health habits that are sustainable. But the truth of aging is that you are going to decline no matter what. You have to push harder at my age, just to maintain what you have, than you did in your twenties. The longer you wait to make a change, the harder it’s going to be. Personally, I’ve reached that tipping point of concern. All joking about giving up and just wearing velour tracksuits aside… I’m genuinely worried. It’s time to right this ship before it’s really too late.

I’ve hired personal trainer to help build back strength and mobility. I started running again. And I’m desperately trying to find an eating plan that is sustainable. Sorry to disappoint all the Keto fanatics, but zero carb full time isn’t it. Life is too short to banish tacos for the rest of my life. And by taco, I mean a real taco. Don’t give me one of those weird zero carb tortillas and fake cauliflower-based rice. I don’t know what the right eating plan is yet, but we’re working on it. None of this is easy. I don’t particularly enjoy it. But I want to be mountain biking into my 70’s and there’s only one way to achieve that.

What I care about are my blood pressure, resting heart rate, lactate threshold, A1C, strength, mobility, body fat percentage, and BMI.

I don’t care what I weigh.



	

I’m Sick Of Diet And Food

I’m frustrated. I’m depressed. I’m angry. I’m absolutely sick and tired of thinking about diet and food. Here’s why…

In the last 7 days my activities have been as follows:

  • 3.7 mile run
  • Initial meeting with personal trainer, mobility, and strength assessment
  • A day of alpine skiing, 13 runs, 9.7 miles
  • A day of cross-country skate skiing, hills, 4.2 miles
  • Two 13-hour workdays, on my feet, walking an ungodly number of steps

My diet during this time:

  • Only two meals a day
  • One meal a day on the workdays
  • Out to dinner with friends but had only a salad
  • Had a burger one night but did salad instead of fries
  • Three total beers during the week
  • My only snacks were almonds and parmesan crips

Not bad, right? I jumped on the scale this morning and… I gained a pound and a half. Fuck!

It’s so demoralizing. Don’t get me wrong, I know exactly why. The meals were pretty high calorie. I ate a LOT of the snacks. Salad is not low calorie when you add gobs of blue cheese dressing. Beer is 200+ calories each. I know I ate too many calories. But I thought for sure that amount of activity I did would at least keep me at break-even. It’s a horrible feeling to be thinking about calories non-stop, to worry all week about getting enough activity in – and still gain weight. I’m tired of thinking about and dwelling over the number on the scale. It’s enough to want to just give up and eat whatever the hell I want. I’m getting old. It’s not like I’m trying to be on the cover of Vogue magazine or become a competitive cyclist. Why should I care anymore?

I’m so sick of thinking and stressing over food. I’m tired of keto. I want to be able to have a beer from time to time. Or a burger. Not every day, but once in a while without feeling guilty about it. I want to be active and exercise so I feel good about my long-term health. I want to maintain my balance and mobility so that I’m not afraid to stand on a stepstool when I’m in my 70’s. But constant worrying about exercise in terms of “did I burn enough calories today?”, is making it a chore that I have to do – not something I want to do.

Having to maintain a diet is not enjoyable. Having to move to the XL side of the clothing rack and skipping fun water activities with friends because you’re embarrassed at how you look isn’t fun either. Both things suck. I keep telling myself, a bit of short-term pain to get to someplace I’m comfortable is worth the effort. Then I can work on a maintenance level of calories rather than a constant deficit. But the daily grind and internal analysis just gets old.

At my age it’s clear that the only way to lose weight is extremely strict calorie restriction. There are no “cheat meals” allowed. I need to track every bit of food I consume. I can ramp up my activity a bit more, but not enough to compensate for the calories I ate this week. Every single thing I put in my mouth has to be weighed, measured, and counted against the daily and weekly calorie budget. I know this. And it pisses me off. Like the national debt clock, I need a continually running calorie clock so I can make appropriate decisions about food intake. I need to stop ruining reasonable food choices by tripling the portion sizes.

I know myself. I struggle with choice. When forced to choose, I often make bad decisions. I’m the type of person that needs to eat the same thing every day. The same breakfast, the same snacks, the same dinner. A known set of calories that doesn’t waver. And once in a while when out with friends, have a burger. But eat only half. I don’t need to consume the entire two pounds of burger, bun, and condiments. Eat enough to satisfy the taste craving and be done. And yes, I can up the activity intensity a bit. I know I’m capable of more than I actually do.

I know what the answer is. I know how this week happened. I know what to do. I just needed to vent a bit. To have a bit of a pity party. Now I need to pick myself up off the floor, dust myself off, and get back after it. I will keep the XXL velour track suit with the elastic waistband and the “all you can eat” buffet at bay.

Diet Secret Unlocked: Stay Busy

I should probably put this on my wildly successful, subscription substack – but because I like you guys, I’ll give you this tip for free. I don’t know why it didn’t dawn on me until recently, but I’m a little slow sometimes. Anyway, here goes. Are you ready? The secret to losing weight – stay busy. That’s it. It’s that simple. Let me explain…

I don’t have a problem working out. I don’t have a problem committing to a particular eating plan. I don’t have a problem tracking macros, calories, or a hundred other stats. What I do have a problem with is stringing those things together for more than a few days. The difference between the times I’ve been successful with weight loss and, ahem, now? Constant activity.

My last go-round with fitness happened when I was still working full-time. I was so crazy busy at work it was easy to fast all day (I ate one meal a day, when I got home). There simply wasn’t time to eat and no time to think about being hungry. So that was three days a week of at least a 1000 calorie deficit per day. (hospital work is three twelve-hour shifts) I was left with a compressed week to fit all my activities in. So even though I probably exceeded my calorie goal many of those remaining days, I was active enough to balance it out. And the weight melted off. About 30 pounds in four months. Activity fosters more activity. As I started losing weight it motivated me to work out even harder and watch my diet even closer. It’s a positive self-reinforcing cycle. Eight months later I came close to hitting my high school weight.

And then at the end of that summer, after summiting the highest peak in the lower 48, I “took a break”. It was only going to be for a short time. After all, I’d earned it. During that break period, I went part-time at work. Then the pandemic hit. Sloth set in and my activity level plummeted. Suddenly I had more time on my hands than I knew what to do with. I spent too many hours just surfing the web and watching non-stop YouTube. And what happens when you have idle hands? Grazing in the pantry and fridge every two hours.

Even though I’d “restart” the diet each morning with a vow to be strict… by 3pm I’d have already hit my calorie budget. Sitting around so much just made me tired and my motivation to be active simply faded more and more each day. This a negative self-reinforcing cycle. And the pounds came back with a vengeance.

With a new year, we’re here at reset #432. Two weeks in and doing good so far. Back in ketosis. No alcohol since the New Year. Winter finally gave us a ski season, so I’m back outside again. The scale is slowly moving in the right direction.

But I still have plenty of time on my hands. And I find myself standing in front of the fridge far too often. I’m not actually hungry. Keto is great for limiting choices and calories, and the daily blood checks keep me honest… but I can still blow my food budget by consuming 400 calories in nuts and stay in ketosis. Right now, I’m on that razor edge of continued success or falling off the wagon again.

Having time on your hands is dangerous in so many ways. It saps productivity. It’s a conduit for a ridiculous amount of screen-time. It’s a recipe for sloth. I’ve written before about wanting to find more purpose, to focus on my hobbies and actually get good at something, to make plans and follow through with them. All things worth focusing on. But more than anything – I need to keep myself occupied so I’m not thinking about food and finding myself standing in front of the refrigerator a dozen times a day. Oh, how I envy the apathetic eaters who simply don’t care about food.

So, the secret to losing weight? Keep yourself so busy you don’t have time to food graze. And the bonus reward is going to bed each night tired and fulfilled with a day full of productivity towards something. Its’ a win-win.

Of course, the other option is to completely empty out the pantry and fridge of all food. Restock them with only the EXACT number of calories allotted for each day. Heck, you could go so far as to partition all your shelves and label them Mon, Tues, Wed, etc… Trust me, I’ve thought about it.

While I’m getting desperate enough for that degree of obsessiveness, I’m not quite ready for that level of extreme. For now, it’s time to ramp up the daily activities to ludicrous levels. So, if you start seeing three posts a day about mountain biking to a lake to go ice fishing, followed by running the dog and then walking downtown to take photographs, and then evening workout sessions… just know it’s not my overachieving, Ritalin fueled personality – I’m desperately trying to distract myself from standing in front of the fridge.

Idle hands are the devil’s playthings.

Benjaman Franklin