And now, that inevitable blog cliché – a diet and exercise post. But I’ll make a stab at also making it a writing post.
For me, losing weight and being healthy isn’t really about looking better (although I won’t cry if I lose some of my gut). This is another stage in the ongoing battle between me and my body to make sure that I remain healthy. Images of consumptive poets to the contrary, I’ve learned that it’s really hard to be creative when you’re not feeling well. You might be sitting in a chair all the time, but that fleshy container your brain sits in can impact your ability to think, and it needs energy too. Since my job directly involves me being creative on a very persistent basis, I can’t afford to be sick all the time – I need to be on the top of my game as much as possible. I’ve gotten pretty good at making sure that I’m mentally healthy, so now it’s time to work on making myself physically healthy.
About five years ago in St. Louis (when I was a freelancer), I regularly worked out with a personal trainer, and followed a custom diet plan. The reason was that I had just come off of a few back-to-back invasive surgeries, and I was trying to get my body back to being healthy enough for me to balance a full-time job and my freelance work. For a while things were fine, but my body hadn’t really recovered, so I would regress and have spells of sickness, and I plateaued. Then I got hired by CCP, moved to Atlanta, and I just never really got back into the exercise habit (and our kitchen staff certainly didn’t help me being moderate in my eating). I made a couple of stabs at a vigorous exercise routine, but I always ended up getting sick, so it never really went anywhere.
Recently I decided to tackle the problem from the other side of the equation. David pointed me to a website called Lose It! that calculates a calorie budget each day for you and then tracks your food intake and exercise against that budget. There’s also an iPhone app for it, so I can quickly check how much a particular meal is going to cost me and plan accordingly. It’s like managing wordcount, or perhaps a very dull, very persistent resource allocation game (which, naturally, is how everyone in our family talks about it – “Hey, I’ve got some budget to burn right now” or “I can’t spend my remaining budget on pasta tonight”). It’s nowhere near accurate, but just thinking about what I’m eating and how much of it I’m eating is helping me to control portion sizes and moderate rich foods and snacks.
And through that, I’ve lost five pounds already in the past week, and I’m feeling pretty good. (I’m also taking vitamins daily, which I’m sure is also helping.)
Next week I’m going on vacation, so I’m going to use that opportunity to get used to walking a lot again. When I get back, I’m going to try to roll right into a regular walking routine, either around the parking lot at work or on a machine at the gym near our house. And from there, we’ll see.