I’ve debated about making this post for sometime. It’s a subject I’ve been excited about for several months, but also a bit more personal than the topics I usually write about. So here’s your warning, the old, (less) fat guy is going to talk about his weight and exercise routines.
It’s no secret that enjoying good beer, and the food that goes with it, is one of the simple pleasures in my life. Colleen is an amazing cook, and our family likes to experiment and experience new flavors. I’ve always tried to be cognizant of what, and how much I eat. However, I also lead a fairly sedentary lifestyle, sitting at a desk for most of my waking hours. As a result of the food and activity levels, I found my waistline slowly creeping up, or out, and my stamina decreasing.
Something had to be done. Last April, as we left for our Florida vacation, I recall a conversation with Colleen in which I stated I was going to do something when we got back. (I certainly wasn’t going to start a diet during vacation!) At the time I didn’t know what or how, but exercise and weight loss was in my future. Coincidently, or by divine providence, while we were on vacation I received an email from a good friend telling me about a new iPhone fitness app he had developed, Lightning Fitness.
Lightning Fitness is based on a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) routine. Before I started the program, I did some research into HIIT and thought it would work in my life. In this iPhone app, you select a "workout pack" and a time period, and the app randomly generates a program for the day. The exercise routines are 12, 15 or 18 minutes long, and you do each individual activity for 30 seconds with a 15 second rest in between, during which there is a video demonstration of the next activity. Believe me that 30 seconds can seem longer than you think. And sometimes I wonder where the 15 seconds of rest went! There are add-on modules available for more variety in the daily routines. It seemed perfect for the busy, and lazy, person.
The exercises were surprisingly tough at first. "Why am I doing Burpees right after Mountain Climber?" But it got a little easier, and after just a week or so, I could see and feel a difference. I was less achy and stiff in the morning, I felt more flexible, and I was losing weight. Interestingly, after a couple months I noticed a difference at the shooting matches. I really felt like I was controlling the gun better. I was able to get in and out of positions more quickly and with less effort. I didn’t wear down as quickly.
It’s obvious that the better shape you are in, the better you can do physical activities. I truly believe the regular exercise has had beneficial effects on my shooting hobby, and has helped provide a balance to my love of food and good beer. What was surprising was the relative speed at which the improvements came. I found myself regretting days I had to, or chose to, skip working out. I really enjoyed the added activity. Recently I’ve added a couple of the optional workout modules to Lightning Fit for additional benefits and variety.
I was a distance runner in college, and even though it’s been decades, I still long for the enjoyment I got from running. I’ve actually tried to get back into running numerous times over the years, and have always given up due to pain or being too out of shape to enjoy it. I decided to try again and was shocked how easily (the slow and steady) running came. The months of HIIT had built up my leg and back muscles, and endurance, to the point I could actually feel good about the runs. I’m still slowly building my endurance, and I keep the running part down to a couple times a week; I have the same old weak knee joints I’ve had for years and don’t want to risk injury.
The initial weight loss progress I experienced slowed down after a couple months. In fact, I gained a few pounds back, likely from muscle mass, even as my waistline slimmed. My weight is still trending down, and I've had to switch to a new belt as my old one was too big. I didn’t realize how much so until I was at an IDPA match recently and had run out of holes in the belt, had to keep hitching my holster up before I shot!
I firmly believe I am healthier and in better shape than I have been for decades. I’m not getting any younger, but people often think I’m younger than I am, so the
vanity motivation is there to maintain that illusion. Currently I’m doing the HIIT routines several times a week, along with a couple days devoted to running. I still have my weight loss goals to meet, but I can enjoy beer and good food with less guilt and fewer side affects.
If you don’t have a regular exercise program, I encourage you to get one. If you have an iPhone, I'd suggest Lightning Fitness as a good option. Whether you want to be ready for when the SHTF, or the next shooting match, or enjoy an extra beer, it’ll certainly pay off in the end.