1 year later…. I turned 51 and I lost 25 pounds during covid ! (how I did it)

Hey folks, no this isn’t turning into a “my weight loss journey blog” but I wanted to share with you one of my personal triumphs. I turned 50 on 2.2.20 and I decided I needed to lose weight. I was not obese, I worked out regularly and ate well, but I carried fat like most people. I am 6’1 on my 50th birthday I weighed 238 pounds. Shirts fit, pants were sized 36-38 waist overall I felt in decent shape for someone my age.

So when I decided to lose weight it wasn’t for a health reason, it was pure vanity. I know, that’s shallow and slightly obtuse but it’s the truth. I just wanted to look better. When I was in my 20’s I had abs was athletic, I was hot or so I am told, lol. Fast forward 30 years, still muscular, more fat, less hair, no abs. So 50 is one of those catalyst moments, one of your Gen X friends will confirm this I assure you. You really look at where you are, where you have been and where you are going.

Yes, you are nearing the end of middle age closing in on retirement age and progressing toward elderly. For me 80 is as close as 20 was, and its where I hope to be but still think about where I had been. So I decided to lose some weight. The goal was to get to 200 pounds. I was 195 when I was 24 years old and I thought “that would be cool to get back to that” well, I failed to hit that mark but on my 51st birthday 2.2.21 I weighed in at 211 a 27-pound loss over 1 year.

Squats
Squats = Weight loss

How did I do it? We had Covid, we had holidays, winter, 2020 worst year ever…. On and on. Below is a list of 3 things I changed that resulted in this weight loss that I have managed to keep off.

  1. Intermittent fasting 16/8: Now there are entire blogs and web sites dedicated to this and there are several strategies. I employed the 16/8 strategy, I eat between 12 and 8 PM. The mornings are the hardest because I get up early and it’s a long window. Yes, I’ve had days where I cheated but 90% of the time I stuck to it.
  2. Increased activity:  I walked more than ever before. We had about 3 months where gyms were closed but I still go and went to the gym 3 times a week minimum during 2020. From push-ups at home to driving to trails and walking to more sex (yes!) I increased my physical activity across the board. Shoveling snow instead of the snow blower, raking leaves, mowing the lawn, moving stones I created opportunities to be physical.
  3. Reduced carb intake: I didn’t go full keto but I ate more keto (if that makes sense). I cut out breads, cut out sugars, cut out as much carb heavy food as I could and replaced it with higher fat foods. I didn’t count calories really, but I ate smarter. For example, I made an effort to cut my meal sizes slightly (so instead of three eggs two) and eat more frequently. This meant smaller meals more often which made me full and resulted in me eating less.

Now will these work for you? I don’t know but it’s how I did it. Minimally, increasing your activity and not changing anything else should result in a net weight loss for you. I found the hardest thing was the intermittent fasting personally. I don’t think that is for everyone it just happened to work for me. Changing up what foods you eat was surprisingly easy for me but I am not a vegan or vegetarian so I didn’t have any issues there.

Weight loss is a challenging endeavor, if you embark on it be honest why you are doing it. It made it way easier for me to achieve my goal by being honest that I just wanted to look better. No shame in that IMHO, and if your journey is for health reasons all the better.

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Back to Basics – Get a routine to fight Anxiety

Anxiety sucks, we can all agree on that. The problem in diagnosis and treating anxiety is it’s unique to each individual and that individual’s experience. As an example, driving in the snow causes me to have anxiety, likely you too, but why? The fear of crashing? The fear of getting trapped? A prior accident? We all have different issues and things can get out of hand very quickly.

One of the things we all can do to fight Anxiety is to create or recreate routines. Covid lock downs have created havoc for tens of millions. For those of us with Anxiety it’s even worse because those routines we clung to pre covid were shattered. Sure it wasn’t perfect but routines gave us some semblance of order and some semblance of control which goes a long way to fighting anxiety.

I haven’t worked at my office for nearly a year, it’s disrupted many of my mini routines and there are times when I am at home I feel lost. I get anxious because I have less structure, less focus, less interaction. It’s been challenging for me personally and I know there are many other people out there in a similar situation. Below are a few things you can do to establish (or Reestablish) routines.

Am I contagious?
This guy and his lists….
  • Go to bed and wake up the same time every day. This one is critical because it creates the conditions which your body can be more regulated, particularly your mind.
  • Workout the same 3 days every week. Mon,Wed,Fri or Tues,Thurs,Sat. Whatever it is you do, yoga, stretching, lifting, running, walking get a consistent routine for specific days.
  • 30 minutes a week work on your personal finances. The same time and day every week. My “personal finance day” is Sunday morning. I get coffee and from 10-11AM I look at my investments, balance the check book, pay bills, and look at my budget.
  • Friends & Family time. This one is harder but every week plan a call, plan a walk, plan a meal whatever it is plan something with a friend or family member not spouse and kids but siblings, parents, good friends.
  • Family night. This is the one for kids and spouses. A Netflix night, a movie, a game, a pizza whatever it is at least once a week (preferably every day) you plan one night with your immediate family, like a date night. Ours is Friday night, we get pizza and play cards or board games, and yes that includes occasionally boyfriends and girlfriends.
  • Personal hygiene routine. Now this one might be self evident but since we have all been trapped at home many of us have let this slip. Sure we all still clean up but are you waking, showering, face cream, shave, brush, mouth wash, grooming etc in the same manner as you were before? How about bed time? Get back into a consistent hygiene routine everyday no days off.

These may sound obvious or they may seem simple, they should be and are. The point is routine and structure give us a great tool to combat anxiety. Without it your mind gets to create whatever reality it wants and if your imagination is like mine that might not be the best outcome. Routines require us to focus on the task, and be present. They also create positive outcomes from the effort and that has the residual effect of making you feel better about yourself.

Get back to basics and get your routines (or several) back on track to fight back against Anxiety!

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India

Indian Workers seek Robots?

Once again we visit with our friends in India on the subject of Anxiety and Mental Health. For those of us in the West we sometimes forget that our friends in India, over a billion actually have very similar mental health issues that we do. Sure societal norms are different but at the end of the day we all have social, economic and political pressures we deal with that affect our mental health.

I found an interesting article here That discusses a recent poll that asked Indian workers if they thought robots were better suited to help with mental health issues then humans. A whopping 91% said they would rather talk to a robot then their boss about stress at work. I don’t have the complete statistics on the study, the number of people, the control etc. but I thought it was interested and worthy of a post.

From the article: “Nearly 93 per cent people said their mental health issues at work negatively affect their home life while 95 per cent of those surveyed believed companies should be doing more to support the mental health of their workforce. For the Indian workforce, 65 per cent feel that they are working more than 40 hours per week and 32 per cent feel the burnout from overwork. “There is a lot that can be done to support the mental health of the global workforce and there are so many ways that technology like AI can help. But first, organizations need to add mental health to their agenda,” said Emily He, senior vice president, Oracle Cloud HCM.”

stressed-out-woman
Anxiety doesn’t care about your ethnicity.

The context of the article delved deeper into the work place and work place culture in India. Clearly it’s a very stressful environment. Add Covid to the mix and PRESTO you have what was stressful now is toxic. Work isn’t meant to be a bed of roses and simplicity, I think we can all agree on that. However when you have over 90% of your workforce saying the work environment is negatively impacting their home life that is very alarming.

My Indian readers certainly don’t need me to tell them how bad their work environment is, it has to be toxic with those numbers. It’s no wonder they would rather talk to a robot, they would likely get more empathy then from their boss. I’ve been in bad work situations before, I’m in a great spot now and super thankful for it. Regardless of what culture you are in when there are aspects of your life that negatively impact your home life, your sanctuary if you will, that’s critical and has to be addressed ASAP.

What do you do though? You need money so you have to work. Human Resource Dept.? Ya right they have never dealt with a pandemic and these kind of conditions either, they are winging it too. I’d love to say “hey things will get better hang in there”, ya they will but I don’t know when. I can tell you in the States things are still crap here. We won’t get back on the right track socially anyway until the presidential election is over.

I wish I had some great advice for my Indian friends. If talking to a Robot helps, do it. If you are one of my Indian readers just know that this blogger gets it, and so do many others in the west. We understand that stress levels around the globe are spiking. We are rooting for you, just take it one day at a time and enjoy the small pleasures when you can.

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Advice from a Dad: How to deal with kids going back to school during a pandemic

Normally I would link an article and give a quote then pontificate about the theory espoused in said article. We aren’t going to do that today. Today I am reaching into my parenting tool box to give you one sure fire way to navigate the pending education issue in the fall that most families are going to have to deal with due to the pandemic. It’s actually a very simple technique, one you have heard of over and over again. That said many of us get exhausted from trying this, we get lax and we settle into an uncomfortable acceptance.

The “simple technique”? Talk to your kids. I know you have heard it before but do you actually do it? When my kids were little (they are now college age) I talked to them but not as directly as I think I should have. You see as a parent one of our primary jobs is to help our kids navigate hard times, to soften the blow of reality if you will. Well reality is pounding on your door with a pandemic raging, civil unrest, and a pending Presidential election that will probably be the most vitriolic we’ve had in a long time.

“What do I say?” I know that’s the hardest thing to get started. The first thing I would recommend doing is ask your child directly “Do you feel comfortable going back to school in the fall?” No matter what their answer is, follow up with a “why?” Let them have the chance to explain why they feel the way they do. Let them have the adult conversation. I know there are some of you out there who are aghast at the notion your 7 year old daughter/son has to deal with this let alone answer these adult questions.

Whom would you prefer they ask? It’s everywhere, and they hear it. If it’s the TV in the back ground, your cell phone conversation, news blips online they see, they know what’s going on. The thing about going back to school is, they are the ones who actually have to go and do it. The adults make the decision and the kids have to execute the mandate. Involve your kids in reasonable discourse. Example: I wouldn’t say bring your kid to a protest at the town hall but when the school committee meeting is on your local cable access and they are discussing it, have the child watch.

An engaged and educated child is critical today. I know, it’s an adult issue and it sucks they have to deal with it. It’s far more important that they engage this issue with you first and learn what they can about it through your guidance prior to being thrust into a situation where they will be confused. Let’s assume school DOES happen in the fall, what does it look like? Segregated seating, masks, some teachers out? Not to mention, what narrative are they going to get from said teachers?

There isn’t a right or wrong answer here. Your kids are going to be on the front lines of a huge social and political issue in a month. It’s a lot of pressure for them and they need your guidance. You are a great parent, give them the benefit of the doubt and let them grow up a little here and engage them on this issue NOW.

I know, I wish things were normal. Soccer on Saturday mornings, a winter play/concert in the school auditorium. It’s not going to happen anytime soon and as a parent with older kids who got all that unfettered you have my empathy. Talk to your kids, find out if they are okay, find out what they think and they will be better prepared for whatever happens in our schools this fall.

You are doing awesome, one day at a time.

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