Most of my recent health goals have been centred around eating, or at least my weight. But those are not the only health goals that I have, so I wanted to write a little bit about them.
I should address my weight goals first, though.
I’ve been at or below my goal weight for over three months now, despite Thanksgiving, Christmas, and many other opportunities to launch myself off the wagon in that period.
I am getting used to how I feel.
I have also been weighing daily during that time so that I can get a clear sense of how my weight fluctuates during a week. There can easily be a two pound swing from one of the week to the next, and lots of factors affect it on any given day but those factors mostly lag pretty heavily. Obviously eating a lot of food the previous day makes a difference, but I haven’t seen that weight sticking — it mostly seems to be the weight of the food itself, rather than fat that that food turns into.
The biggest thing is just getting used to new eating routines. I am maintaining now rather than trying to shed, so Weight Watchers gives me more points. They also encourage you to adjust your points allowance if there is a change in weight, and I landed on a pretty effective daily budget within a few weeks. You also get weekly points, although I rarely dip into those — I prefer to have my fit points instead.
Even the first time I was using a WW programme, fit points were my silver bullet.
My requirement for exercise has always been that it be vigorous and intense. “Going for a walk” rarely feels like exercise, although hiking certainly can if the route is hilly enough or far enough.
With this iteration of WW, I have connected my fitness tracker to my WW account so that WW can pull in my step counts without my even having to type them in. It’s great, and for most of the trundling around I do it captures my activity pretty accurately.
However, when we started doing a spin class it became apparent that the steps I got from my tracker (which is tucked into my sock when I ride) didn’t match the amount of effort I was putting in*. Similarly, for the kind of push running I do I wasn’t getting full credit, which matters a lot when you want to go and get a bun to satisfy your bone hungriness.
Putting in the activity double counts my steps, though: I don’t want 20 points for an hour of spinning as well as 7 points for my spin steps; that’s cheating!
So I pro rate the activity time to discount it by the steps. For spinning and running, this comes down to about two thirds of the time. This way I get credit for the intense exercise, but I also don’t have to abandon my step counter while I’m doing it.
Stephen Fry once wrote that he was fit: fit for the life that he led of cerebral contemplation and creative work.
My criteria for being fit are a bit more specific. I have had these fitness goals for a solid fifteen years, all of these being things I would like to be able to do with regularity and without thinking about it too much before hand:
- run an eight minute mile
- run ten miles
- cycle fifty miles
The one I hit first was the ten mile run: I had this down for about six months at one time, when I was planning a maintenance schedule which included a regular ten. I am not there yet this time around, though: I ran ten today, but it took special effort and it was a particular strain.
The goal I expected to take longest was the eight minute mile, but that is actually the one I have in hand now. I am regularly posting runs in the 8:05-8:15 range on a variety of terrains, and I have had a couple of sub-8 runs. Even on longer and tougher runs my times are coming in much lower: only the most challenging hill runs are posting over nine minutes a mile, and today’s ten — the longest run I have done in some years — came in at 8:52 a mile. That wasn’t flat, either.
Which just leaves the fifty mile bike ride. This seems more than plausible at this point.
I hope you are engaging with your health goals. It’s better to confront them than to ignore them, and I am glad I have finally done so over the last year.
[*] in fairness, I had been suspicious of the mismatch between step count and perceived effort while cycling for some time, but when eating was on the line it suddenly seemed more urgent.