tomfromhr.com a blog on tech, politics, life and zombies

25Nov/160

Hidden Progress

There are certain habits you develop when you’re bigger that you don’t even realize. Little things, little adjustments that those damned lucky people who never feel like that don’t do. Most of my pants have this hidden stretchy waist elastic. Comfort waist, they call it. I barely ever buy pants that don’t have that. I used to roll up the sleeves on all my dress shirts. I could never buy shirts that fit properly, the sleeves were always too long (since I had to buy XL shirts which are designed for taller guys), so I rolled them up.

The one that I’ve kept for a long time was unbuttoning my top button. Even with a tie tied I would always do this. It’s a look, I’d tell people if anyone asks, but realistically it was because buttoning it was uncomfortable. 

A couple days ago, I noticed my collar felt loose, and when I reached up to tighten my tie slightly, I noticed the shirt was buttoned. Not unbuttoned. I just hadn’t realized. It was comfortable. Loose, even. The shirt I’m wearing today I wore a few weeks ago and felt it a bit snug. Now it’s loose. The collar on this one actually is by most definitions too loose. The standard for a men’s collar is that you should be able to fit a finger or two between the collar and the neck comfortably. I can fit my whole hand pretty easily. 

I’m also wearing an old belt, one I’d bought a year or two ago when my old belt wore out, being optimistic and buying something smaller because I was sure this latest fitness trend I was vaguely following was going to work (spoiler alert: it didn’t). I wore it a month or two ago, but it felt tight at the second loop. Now I’m on the third loop and feel comfortable.

It’s funny because I was convinced I was stalled, stuck. My weight hasn’t been moving much. I’ve never set too much stock by the people who will dutifully remind me oh but muscle weighs more than fat, don’t worry. But I’m starting to wonder. I think I look different in the mirror. Damn you past Tom for not taking comparison pictures. Fuck that your bathroom is messy, take them anyway. I will tonight. I can’t really see much of a difference in the mirror, but I feel it. I stand taller. My chest feels..slimmer, but bigger, somehow. I feel like I take up less space. In a good way. I feel like I move easier. I do, really. And my arms and legs are in a near constant state of very slight ache. Not huge. Not crazy. Just sometimes when I reach a certain way, or bend a certain way, I feel that twinge that reminds me I spent 40 minutes this morning trying to improve myself.

I still worry about the weight loss. 215 is still well above the healthy range for my height, and I’m nowhere near the level where I have the bulk to balance that out. But I seem to be going back down again, and I seem to be doing so despite not eating perfectly lately. It’s slow. Very slow. But maybe that’s okay.

I’m getting stronger with the rings. I lift myself up more easily. I still can’t pull myself up fully, but I feel the progress. I guess the point of this is to remind you that progress comes in ways you don’t expect sometimes. In little weird spots that you might not notice immediately. But it’s important to be watchful, and to celebrate those victories, and to trust they will keep coming, more often than you think. 

There are certain habits you develop when you’re bigger that you don’t even realize. Little things, little adjustments that those damned lucky people who never feel like that don’t do. Most of my pants have this hidden stretchy waist elastic. Comfort waist, they call it. I barely ever buy pants that don’t have that. I used to roll up the sleeves on all my dress shirts. I could never buy shirts that fit properly, the sleeves were always too long (since I had to buy XL shirts which are designed for taller guys), so I rolled them up.

 

The one that I’ve kept for a long time was unbuttoning my top button. Even with a tie tied I would always do this. It’s a look, I’d tell people if anyone asks, but realistically it was because buttoning it was uncomfortable.

 

A couple days ago, I noticed my collar felt loose, and when I reached up to tighten my tie slightly, I noticed the shirt was buttoned. Not unbuttoned. I just hadn’t realized. It was comfortable. Loose, even. The shirt I’m wearing today I wore a few weeks ago and felt it a bit snug. Now it’s loose. The collar on this one actually is by most definitions too loose. The standard for a men’s collar is that you should be able to fit a finger or two between the collar and the neck comfortably. I can fit my whole hand pretty easily.

 

I’m also wearing an old belt, one I’d bought a year or two ago when my old belt wore out, being optimistic and buying something smaller because I was sure this latest fitness trend I was vaguely following was going to work (spoiler alert: it didn’t). I wore it a month or two ago, but it felt tight at the second loop. Now I’m on the third loop and feel comfortable.

 

It’s funny because I was convinced I was stalled, stuck. My weight hasn’t been moving much. I’ve never set too much stock by the people who will dutifully remind me oh but muscle weighs more than fat, don’t worry. But I’m starting to wonder. I think I look different in the mirror. Damn you past Tom for not taking comparison pictures. Fuck that your bathroom is messy, take them anyway. I will tonight. I can’t really see much of a difference in the mirror, but I feel it. I stand taller. My chest feels..slimmer, but bigger, somehow. I feel like I take up less space. In a good way. I feel like I move easier. I do, really. And my arms and legs are in a near constant state of very slight ache. Not huge. Not crazy. Just sometimes when I reach a certain way, or bend a certain way, I feel that twinge that reminds me I spent 40 minutes this morning trying to improve myself.

 

I still worry about the weight loss. 215 is still well above the healthy range for my height, and I’m nowhere near the level where I have the bulk to balance that out. But I seem to be going back down again, and I seem to be doing so despite not eating perfectly lately. It’s slow. Very slow. But maybe that’s okay.

 

I’m getting stronger with the rings. I lift myself up more easily. I still can’t pull myself up fully, but I feel the progress. I guess the point of this is to remind you that progress comes in ways you don’t expect sometimes. In little weird spots that you might not notice immediately. But it’s important to be watchful, and to celebrate those victories, and to trust they will keep coming, more often than you think.

18Nov/161

Getting Unstuck

It’s funny the way we think about things. I was ready to come here and post about how I’ve been stuck in terms of weight loss, losing and gaining the same 5ish pounds for the last 3 months. And in some ways that’s not untrue. 3 months ago as I was at 221. I’ve gotten down to a low of 214, and as of today am back up to 215. My weight will usually drop over the course of the week, and jump back up over the weekend. 

But I came here to say that I had first hit 215 several months ago when, looking at my tracking, it was less than that. A couple weeks. October 18th, to be precise. About 4 weeks ago. Not that bad. And if I look at the graph, and drew a line to get the average trend like they taught us in grade school, the line goes down. Absolutely downward. But it doesn’t feel like it. It feels like I’ve been stuck. It feels like I’ve moved backwards lately, falling into old bad habits of mindless eating and cravings for chocolate and fried goodness. There’s been stress, and that’s part of it, I’m sure. 

I feel better equipped this time though. Portion control. Exercise. I have tools. I have a community. I have some ideas as to how to push myself a bit further, and most of them aren’t undoable. They involve some unpleasantness. Resisting some cravings. Staying involved with the community. 

I remember someone telling me a long time ago that, on average, once you’ve done something consistently for 6 months, you’re generally set on it. You need 6 months for a habit to form, to create something you’re doing constantly. For reference, I started actually working out on July 18th, 2016 and, with the exception of taking some time off for Legion, have worked out 5 days a week, M-F, since then. In order to work out for 6 months consistently I need to keep doing it until mid-January, 2016. I feel like if I can do that, I will get there. It may take me a while, I may not have the crazy huge results everyone else has in 6 months or 3 months or whatever, but that will help me keep the tools. Keep the faith.

18Jun/160

My Experience with NerdFitness Academy

Oh God the tags on this one are gonna attract SO MANY SPAMBOTS.

Last week I took the plunge and signed up for NerdFitness’s Academy, their paid course on weight loss and fitness. It was a one time fee of $99 USD, and I purchased their yoga course as well ($37 I think, half off when purchased with NF Academy). The Academy is essentially a large interactive book, coupled with a goal tracking quest system and tied to a large community, both on Facebook and in their forums.

So far, I’ve made a lot of progress and enjoyed the fuck out of it.

The course starts you off with mindset work, as the idea is less to have you lose weight fast, the idea is to change your relationship with weight and fitness, framed in nerdy and RPG elements. It definitely speaks to me very well, and it’s been successful. They hand you “quests” to complete, which include goal setting, logging your food, taking your measurements and taking before pictures, and as you complete them you get XP and level up.

You also choose a class, which generally symbolizes the kind of things you want to do. Druids, for example, do lots of meditation and yoga. Monks do lots of martial arts, warriors do strength training, etc. In his book, the founder of NerdFitness, Steve Kamb, even suggests creating your own class, though the website doesn’t support this currently. The class mostly comes into play in their forums, where you can join a guild for these classes and do challenges. A lot of people guild hop, however.

The goal setting section is a big part of it, and that’s been helpful. I set a few big goals, including a “Big Why.” Mine was, in short, that I need to give my wife a good, long life, and there’s a lot of things I’d like to do that I can’t currently, stuff like play golf with my in-laws, fit into suits that aren’t custom made, and keep myself well read, both on current events and in terms of fiction and non-fiction. NF focuses on physical fitness, but also has elements of just generally levelling up yourself and improving yourself overall.

So far I’ve been logging my foods and generally making better choices. I’m doing less emotional eating, less moments of “I’ve had a bad day so I’m getting M&Ms,” and it was that loss of control that really got me. Doing something that was legitimately bad for me, that I knew was, both from a financial and physical perspective, because I craved that momentary high of chocolate, of sugar, etc. I’m not saying I’m never eating M&Ms or junk food ever again, but trying to make better choices about when I do. I’d do things like graze on candy if we got some in the office, or if there were appetizers out I’d pretty much graze constantly. Last night we had chips out, and I ate some, yes, but not nearly as many as I wanted to, not nearly what I thought made sense. 

And this is my problem really. It’s not about never having those things, it’s about those emotional moments where I go to eat something and regret it afterwards, because I overeat, my stomach hurts, cause it is never as satisfying as I think it will be. 

So I’m hoping this will stick, and we’ll certainly see. I’m trying to take the victories where I can get them, make better, small choices, as opposed to big ones where I feel like I’m cheating myself or depriving myself. I do feel like my mindset has shifted a bit though. I know this will be hard, but thinking about “this is what’s healthy for me, and this is what I need to do” has been helping.

And there does seem to be a good community out there to support me! NF’s one is top notch, and there are daily Facebook posts of people sharing their victories (and defeats, occasionally) and I’m excited to dive into their forum, the guilds, and challenges therein. The ever-inspiring Jenn has also offered to help me dive into the Instagram fitness community, which looks like a good one as well. Debating if I want to set up a separate fitness Instagram account, as I’ve seen a few others do. Leaning towards it.

It feels good, and it feels like progress, which I haven’t felt in a long time. I haven’t taken any measurements or weighed myself yet, but this is more about lifelong change that will get me there, not about a quick fix. My mind feels better, and I’m excited about the future, and eager to accomplish the things I want to do. I have an idea for a walking challenge that has me really excited, specifically trying to walk the distance from Hobbiton to Mordor. Not barefoot, though.

I’ll do my best to update when I can, folks!