As developers and designers and with many other technology professionals, long period’s of our time is spent sitting at a computer. This is a factor when we look at what is causing us to gain weight. So we need to be proactive about our health and exercise regiment.
I’m sure some of you have a treadmill desk or work for A company that supports an active lifestyle and training, but sitting is a major reason that we start to get out of shape, so we need to get moving after work or find ways to burn calories sitting (another article). Another problem is that a lot of the developers that I know are workaholics, not taking enough time to spend with family, get out and enjoy life and keep their body moving. Some work more 8+ hours a day and keeping very odd schedules, this is also not a healthy lifestyle unless you hack it. Finally the food we put in our bodies can be very unhealthy. Pizza, high sugar and caffeinated sodas and salt snacks are crutch foods that are binged on when we need to push for that extra few hours.
The point I want to make is that we can hack our lifestyle just slightly and have ourselves moving in the direction towards being healthy and start shedding the first 5 to 10 pounds of unnecessary fat. With that and eating right will come more energy and and overall happier you! For some of us, that 10 lbs might be the difference we need to bring better health and higher self esteem.
I only made a few small changes, and I’m not going to win the next body building championship or even enter one. I’m not going to be ripped or look like a model. None of that is on my short list. My short list is easy.
- Lose 10 lbs in two months
- I want to feel comfortable taking my shirt off and wearing tank tops.
- Getting rid of love handles and fatty pecs
- Feel better and have more energy
- Start working out
This is a very small list and it is not hard to achieve with a few small changes. But it does involve some work. I’m not as concerned with my lower body at the moment, however, I know that if I continue this regiment, I will need to spend time on those areas too. I have started by doing some extensive workouts 3 days a week at very least. The days in the middle where I will eventually do lower body ar right now relaxed days to heal. These days I found are very important for someone who has not worked out extensively in a while, because you will get sore fast.
I’m not going to a gym, I’m not lifting heavy weights or running, so what have I done? Well I took my first steps by doing the following:
- Cutting out all soft drinks (*not even diet)
- Cutting all of my meals in half. (as close as I can get to that)
- Replacing breakfast with one/two items (*less than 300 calories)
- Eating almonds(no salt) for snacks
- Working out 3 days a week (*minimum workout)
So let’s start with the soft drinks, the star indicated a note that I want to make about this statement. *The reason I had to say no diet soda is because I don’t believe replacing soda with diet soda helps you. If you can take the change in taste, you are simply replacing the sugar with something like aspartame or stevia, these fake sugars can make you crave sugar foods and drinks even more.
The idea of replacing soda is that you break yourself of that carbonated kick/addiction. That is my own term but when I am thirsty I would actually want something like a Dr Pepper because of the very harsh carbonated effect of the drink and I would consume it like water. My idea was to quit cold turkey, replace soda with Coconut water. Slowly adding more and more water to it until I prefer water more than soda. You must also be able to completely cut off the soda, this is the one item I would not advise treating yourself to after a good week. This stuff needs to go because continuing to drink it every once in a while will only make you crave more.
So how exactly did I do it? I replaced soda and my energy drinks with coconut water. I didn’t just start replacing it with any ol’ coconut water. You need to pick a brand that is low in calories and unsweetened. NOt the stuff you will find at the corner store. You need to look in the soda or hispanic ection of your store usually where they have the GOYA products. I found it hard to find any really good brands that are unsweetened and have no pulp inside. But I found Badia Coconut Water at Publix and Walmart. I usually filter out the pulp and that cuts down the low calorie count to about 60-65 calories. With pulp it’s 70 calories per the nutritional info. One thing I am unsure about is that they don’t list the nutrient info for potassium It’s suppose to be high in potassium but their label says nothing of it. I figure at the least the pulp must have some in it. But for me coconut water was the item I replaced those sodas and energy drinks with. Eventually once I have completely kicked soda and am no longer tempted I will also start replacing every other coconut water with just water, I also tend to water my coconut water down so that it is more refreshing.
Next I decided to cut all my meals in half (eyeballing it). So at dinner when I’m at home I take half portions of everything. If I go to Chipotle which is a favorite place to eat fast food, I will typically take my food home so that I can remove half of the contents of one burrito into a low carb tortilla. I save the rest of the burrito for the next meal (lunch the next day or dinner that night). This might seem extreme and you might even say that if you are trying to ween yourself down to smaller portions, is this too drastic of a cut right away? You would have to make that determination yourself, the idea is to put less calories in my body. One thing that I have done to help supplement this immediate loss of calories I’m use to, is to keep almonds around as a snack only turning to these in between meals when the hunger is a problem, this will help curb the appetite.
Once you have taken that step then you can start replacing your meals with more healthier options. My favorite ingredients for a dinner is something like a 4oz chicken breast shredded, black beans, cilantro, 1/4 cup of rice wrapped up in a La Banderita low carb tortilla which is high in fiber. A healthy drink that is not soda or energy or anything with added sugar. Water is best.
A lot of us rely on fast food in the morning to get us going. I found out that my average calorie count from McDonalds in the morning was 600 calories give or take 50 +/-. This is too much of this type of food to be eating in the morning. Opting for a Egg WHite delight Mcmuffin and some apples is almost exactly 300 calories. Even if I had to go into an office I could just take a handful of almonds if I get hungry before lunch.
As for working out, I’m doing about 3 days. I purchased an Ab Ball and Ab Roller. I started learning all of the different exercises that would help my midsection and just experiment with those items for now. I do at least 30 push ups and regular situps a day and do about 60 chest presses in reps of 20 on my Weider Pro 6900 Weight System.
But those could easily just be more pushups. I also do the same number of pulldowns on that same machine if I’m feeling energetic after that I will do some extra reps. Throughout the rest of the day I try to add as many push ups and crunches. I plan to do more and push myself harder, but as you can see, it’s not that much of a change. You just have to stay consistent. Just like anything else staying consistent and pushing harder is the only way to get ahead.
I have a friend who inspires me greatly to better myself and to treat my body with respect and start moving in the right direction and I was happy to hear that the first steps that he said were mandatory were pretty simple. Cutting out all soda, all pizza, and doing some type of exercise everyday or as close as I can get to it. His name is John Somnez and I learned most of what I know about fats and exercising as well as eating healthy from his podcast “Get Up and Code” a developer centric fitness and wellness podcast.
With these “First Steps” I have lost about 5 lbs in a month, hopefully I can keep that going I will update the bottom of this article with my progress. I have also put on some muscle, but I’m still going toward that goal as a hard number I must lost 10 lbs even if I’m adding muscle. Kicking soda was the hardest part of this.
You will be surprised how much fat and weight you might be able to lose by just cutting out soda, pizza and junk food. Trying to exercise and maintain weight loss while doing those things is an uphill battle. Like running the opposite way on an escalator. It isn’t going to work for most people.
One more suggestion that doesn’t really fit into the fitness or eating that I feel is a good idea is getting out in the sun regularly and getting a base tan on your chest and back, legs etc. If you can get a base tan there, you will feel better about yourself, and start doing more outside activities. Wash your car more often in the sun with some shorts and no shirt on. do yard work regularly while it’s nice and hot outside, this burns calories too, most things done in hotter temperatures do burn more calories and you can’t lose weight without burning calories. We don’t really lose it, we burn it
One more thing I have committed myself to is a sport. Any sport.
For me it’s something called IDPA. It’s a shooting competition that keeps you moving and shooting. I will potentially do this once a month and train in between. This sport requires a lot of upper body strength and stamina to shoot 10 courses in one day. I also will be getting out and teaching my sons football team. Having a sport is just one extra fun thing you can do.
That’s about it, these are what I call first steps and just like anything you need to keep moving forward and keep progressing to make it work. But it doesn’t have to be full speed all at once. You can make some great progress by simply cutting a few things out, cutting a few things back and exercising regularly. So if you are currently battling your weight and feeling unhealthy, make these first easy steps and go from there. I’m not a nutritionist or a health professional so I don’t have all of the answers and it’s a learning curve for me. But you have to make the change you have to start with these things before anything else so that you are not fighting yourself. Also remember that you need to be burning more calories than you eat everyday. Start by parking your car very far away from the store you’re going into, start taking morning or evening walks, possibly take up running. Definitely work fitness into your routine everyday.
Right now I’m feeling the healthiest I have ever been, I can now take off my shirt at the beach without feeling self conscious. And all this after just a month or two. Another thing that really resonated with me that John Somnez talks about is making sure you do these things. Making them a priority that comes before anything else with no excuses. If you can do that 99.9% of the time you should have no problem getting into shape, or at least taking these first steps.