Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Lets get started!

Well it's a New Year, the Christmas season holidays are now becoming but a memory, so as you would expect both the on line and print media are currently rammed full of weight loss and fitness advice.

My intention here is to try and filter through all of this health and well being bombardment and record my own personal experiences as I set out to make what I firmly believe will be a life changing transformation of my health.

This is the first of a series of blog articles that I'm going to be writing on the subject, so I hope one or two of you will come along for the journey with me - your comments and feedback will be very welcome.
So come on, let's make a start.

~~~~Setting Goals~~~~

In all walks of life, the importance of setting goals seems to be constantly drummed into us. Perhaps best summed up by the rather well worn phrase "If you don't know where you are going - how will you know when you get there?".

At a time of year, where so many people make New Years resolutions and the like that gradually fade away after a few short weeks, this does need careful consideration.

I've certainly suffered in the past from setting far too challenging , long term goals, without actually the time to plan think about the stages / the gradual steps that are required in the short term to get on that path. They seem unachievable, unrealistic, and sadly as a result, far too many of us simply let go of them far too easily.

Another common issue is that the goals are far too vague or unclear. Broad statements like "I want to lose a lot of weight,  I need to improve my fitness, eat more healthily" etc just aren't enough on their own.
For me, the best place to start when looking for inspiration, is to study people that have already realised their goals - that have already made huge changes to their lives. In this multi channel, wall-to-wall, celebrity and instant entertainment reality TV era, it's easy to overlook the hidden gems that can be found out there to inspire and motivate.

I'd like to give you two prime examples of the kind of shows that can really spur you into action. "The Biggest Loser" is I'm sure familiar to a great many of you, as it's grown into an international TV phenomenon. Of course, it is deliberately dramatic, the contestants you see seem to be ever larger with every new series, and yes there is a huge cash prize at stake, but if you like me can look past your initial scepticism about such programs, and listen closely to the personal stories of each and everyone of those contestants, trust me it'll really make an impact.

The second show is called "X-Weighted" and originates from Canadian TV. In this case, it follows one or two people on a six month personal training / lifestyle improvement / weight loss journey and again the transformations you witness in an hour of programming really stay with you.

In each case, they set out with clear targets , yes in the case of the Biggest loser there is a competition element, but the most important message is that they achieve things step-by-step, week in week out, and they commit - because they know exactly where they are going.

~~~~My current condition~~~~

OK here's the facts of the situation  -I'm a 40 year old, father of one. I have a busy career working full time as an IT professional. In 2009 I discovered that my blood pressure was very high, and managed to reduce my weight from around 238 pounds (or 17st) to around 210 pounds or 15st over a 3-4 month period through a combination of diet and exercise. My weight has maintained around that mark for the last year, but over the Christmas went up by around 7 pounds to 217 pounds.

My blood pressure though lower, has remained above normal levels at around 150 over 90. Standing at 6ft 2, my Body Mass index - ratio of height : weight - is recorded at Overweight (was borderline clinically obese). My Body fat percentage (as you can see mostly in the abdomen region is 29% (below 25% is high-normal)

They do say a picture paints a thousand words - well here you go.

~~~My action plan~~~~

So here's what I'm doing about it.

1. The tools

I've signed up to a great on line personal trainer site (details to come in the next article), for around £120 a year, featuring video instruction, mp3 workouts to download and use, and am following a combined healthy diet, resistance (muscle toning) training, cardio and mental focus (yoga, tai chi, relaxation). I am lucky enough to have a lots of training kit available at home (running machine / xtrainer / rowing machine / dumbbells etc) so I don't need to sign up for expensive gym memberships

I've joined weight watchers online on a 3 month trial - access to all the recipes, community boards and resources - very helpful

To help me stay active , track progress. and have some family fun, have invested in a WII console and the Wii Fit software and balance board. And yes have even invested in the Biggest Loser version for Wii - again you get to follow the training tips from the personal trainers on the show, and take on gradual challenges.

2. The Targets

First month target - weight loss of around 10 pounds, with the aim of breaking through the 200 pound barrier. Also to cut body fat down to 27.5% or less. Most importantly for Blood pressure to be in the region of 145/85.

Next two months to March , I plan to lose another 10 pounds, gradually as heavier muscle replaces fat - I would like to have body fat below 25% by end of this period and BP around 140 /80

Finally in the 3 months to June, I plan to lose another 17 pounds , making 37 pounds in all over 6 months - from 217 to 180 pounds. Body fat to be reduced to 20% , and BP to be 135/75.

3. The progress

Its still early days of course, but already I'm noticing huge differences in my energy levels as well as actual pounds lost. I'm actually weighing in at 209.5 pounds (so down 7.5 pounds) and body fat is currently at 28.6%. BP is around 148 / 88. I'll be sure to keep you posted....