Time to do my check-in for my efforts to transform my body. The big day is here!
Or is it?
I confess I spent way too much time this week thinking about my check-in, and how I wanted to hold myself accountable. Should I do it on the last day of the month, thus emphasizing the past month’s efforts and results? Or should I wait until the first of the next month so that I cover the WHOLE month and also trigger the start of the new month?
Any day I choose is arbitrary, but I am a great believer that what story I tell myself is as important as how I tell it. Retro results vs. forward planning? In reality, I know it doesn’t matter. I could do the measurements ANY day this week, and post on the last day or the first day, it doesn’t change the outcome, it’s just changing which day I took the snapshot in time. Yet it still bothered me all week. I was wondering, for example, if I would have time on the 1st (Friday) to get up, weigh-in, do all my measurements, take the accountability pics, and have time to run Jacob to school before I started work. I do want to do the stats in the morning, same time every month, but does it matter if it was today (Thursday) vs. tomorrow (Friday), or could I even wait until Saturday when I generally would have more time? Should I aim more for the first Sunday following the end of the month?
Holy squirrels. My brain KNEW it didn’t matter, but part of me was trying to get it “perfect” somehow, like “perfect” was even a thing in this case.
In the end, I decided at least for this month to take advantage of the day off to do all my measurements and posting today. Next month? I’ll see.
I have lots of “noise” this month around getting set up and going, which was the primary focus for almost all of the last 2+ weeks. I have a full dashboard to track everything, I’m taking pictures I hate, I have achieved 15 mini-milestones, and for the most part, there aren’t any discernible changes to point to as a success. I’ve increased overall weight per workout, but I feel more like I’ve been right-sizing the workouts so far. This month will be the real test.
After 15 exercise sessions (weightlifting, stretching and walking), I’ve lost 1.2 lbs, which is 7.8 lost in total this year. And I’m feeling pretty good about the workouts and after the workouts. My body isn’t screaming at me to stop.
B. Overall dashboard
I created a Transformation Dashboard to keep track of my stats, and to be honest, I put WAY too much time into it this week. Sure, I won’t have to do that NEXT time, it’ll be a simpler update, but still, it took some time.
The dashboard has a number of components spread across two pages:
- The “accountability” photos;
- My physical measurements showing the original high of 350 lbs with my revised baseline in mid-September when I started the big process + last totals, new totals, incremental change from last time, and total change from the original;
- A pseudo-bar graph to show my progress towards my eventual weight target of 185 lbs, which I aim to reach in 2028;
- My Bowflex stats in terms of Maximum Weight that I can do 10 reps at, as well as my standard workout totals;
- My fitness sessions, sense of my body (negative and positive), and psychological; and,
- General milestones along the road, spread across commitment, measurement, workouts, and differences that I see as time goes on.
- I’ll also go through each of those areas below.
C. Accountability photos
The front, side and back photos are a work-in-progress to figure out how to show enough detail to make it worthwhile to take them for any other reason than to fat-shame myself. I like to delude myself that it is “accountability”, but there is a masochistic component in there somewhere. I struggle to do things like selfies in any situation, as I don’t normally take pics of myself. I could have others take it, but the whole point is personal accountability, so I’m trying to do them all myself.
For this month, there’s not much (hah!) to see in the way of progress, not that I expected to see anything yet. If I was harsh with myself, I’d say they actually look WORSE, not better.
D. Physical measurements
The big one, of course, is my weight, and since mid-September, I basically dropped 1.2 lbs, meaning my weight is 7.8 lbs less than my high of 350 lbs. I have an extra indicator to add for the future on this, a “time reference” so to speak, but I haven’t got to filling that out yet. It was a bit weird choosing my weight total, as there is some differing views out there as to which weight you should record. Here’s a small graph of my weight in the last two weeks showing minor fluctuations (it seems big because the graph is scaled differently):
I chose the one right on the prediction line, i.e. from today, but for example, earlier this week, my weight reached a weight that was a full lb even lower. I’d love to use THAT one, of course, and some people advocate taking the lowest measurement of the last week. Others suggest averaging the last two or three readings, depending on how often you record your weight. In the end, precision and perfection is not the goal. It’s a simple snapshot, so I went with the weight I registered this morning.
With such small changes, there is no change in BMI. I had to drop the calculation for the % of body fat as the app doesn’t seem to want to update properly for that heading. I show the first five lbs lost in green (locked in) and the next bit as yellow (pending) in the progress towards target.
For the remaining measurements, there’s no good news yet. My neck seems to have gone down a bit, while three others seem to have gone up, and five are bigger than my original refs. I think I’m doing that a bit wrong, as the “original” should probably be the largest I was at any one of those measurements in the year, as opposed to the measurements I was tied to the weight, but I’ll leave it for now.
E. Weightlifting exercises
Back at the beginning of my routines just over two weeks ago, I was doing 9 exercises, two of which were a bit cumbersome. I did a raw calculation at the time of my maximum weights at all the exercises in the batch, but I kind of messed up.
There are two general philosophies about calculating maximums. The first is the standard weightlifting competition idea, i.e., how much weight can you do on each exercise with only 1 rep (which is what I registered previously). The second view is one that I like more, namely that your maximum should be the weight you feel comfortable with and in control of moving for a set number of reps. For me, ten reps seems like a good control number, and today, I reset all the max rates with Andrea’s help.
If I was to do 10 reps of the 7 remaining exercises, at my maximum, I would move about 7800 lbs of weight. And if I was trying to simply increase muscles, I would do that type of routine once a week while doing other sets of about 80% of max elsewhere in the week.
But I’m actually trying to shed weight and improve overall tone. Which means I do lower weights, more reps and more sets. For the 7 exercises on the list, I’m actually moving 18300 lbs of weight per session. And, to be honest, I can do more. The only real challenge is not adding to the existing ones so much as needing to add three new exercises too (2 are for legs, as replacements for other ones). But as I add those and try to add reps and sets, plus 45s rests between sets? It all adds time to my work-out.
My title in my app was simply a 20-minute full body workout, but if I do what I’ve got planned, allowing for proper form (3s out, 3s in), 45s between sets, and perhaps a minute between exercises, it comes to…78 minutes. And now you see another reason why people do alternate days for some exercises. If I add in my stretching that day, and walking, I’m easily at 2h.
It’s not sustainable, I know.
F. Physical fitness sessions
I managed 8 formal workouts, plus 5 stretching routines, and 2 formal walking outings. The WOs and stretching are likely close, but the walking is off. I forgot to log a bunch of quick walks with Andrea or Jacob, and I’m not really calculating distance yet. I need to get my FitBit going again. But at least I’ve got my MapMyWalk account reset so I can pre-plan distances, and hope my knees hold up.
G. Body sense
I don’t know if that is the right title for this area, but I was trying to capture the idea that there are a series of “negative” or “positive” indicators for how my body is doing or responding, or perhaps just “working”. The two negative ones that stand out in the last month are headaches (they’ve been more persistent in the last month) and my blood pressure (it’s been higher at night, a common problem when my allergies kick in, and contributes to my headaches). I’ve taken more Tylenol in the last month than I would like to be taking. Other than that, I’d say sinuses were next on my list, but overall, nothing noteworthy.
On the “positive” side, I don’t feel there have been any improvements in my movement/flexibility/agility or my sleep, but I have felt better for my energy levels and overall fitness. I can even feel a difference from the last two weeks that the BowFlex exercises are flowing a bit more easily. I haven’t had that “high” from a few years ago (I remember a fall day stepping out into the garage and feeling like I was in the best health I had been in for some time, and my weight wasn’t even down then, but I just felt GREAT for about an hour), but that’s the feeling I want to find again.
So. This one is harder to quantify. I put in indicators for my overall sense of health, which goes beyond simply fitness. It kind of combines the two “body sense” ones together, I suppose. Social flexibility (willingness to try new things), social confidence (doing physical things in front of other people), and lifestyle confidence (willingness to be more physically “out there”) aren’t really moving the needle, not that I expected them to yet. I would say I’m experiencing a bit of a bump in mood and overall mental health from the exercising, although COVID stuff on the news and in feeds is bringing down my MH a smidge over my mood moving it up.
I’m showing 8 milestones in the commitment list, although some of them were already mentioned when I launched. I committed to the journey, announced my goal, created the dashboard, set up my workout routine, and set up apps to track. And then did the first workout with the BowFlex plus had my first week with 3 WOs in it and my first week with 3 stretching routines in it. I didn’t count the stretching routine as fully set up yet as I’m still tweaking it.
I have 6 milestones tracked, but they are very similar to the above elements — set up tracking and photos and did my first weigh-in / measurements / photos. But I also lost my first “new” pound too.
K. Workout changes
I had a whole bunch of initial tweaks this month, but I didn’t really count any of them as actual changes or modifications, they were still just adjustments to drafts. The only REAL milestone I counted was the new list of new maximum weights that I calculated today. We’ll see where that leaves me in a month.
Nada, nil, rien, zilch. I have more energy, sure. I feel a bit of a bump in mood, sure. But actual “visible differences”? Not yet. I didn’t expect to and some of them are not going to show up for quite some time.
Noise, planning progress, down a pound, and a bump in mood. I’ll take the small win.