This was week 136 of my Operation Melt journey that started with my goal to escape obesity and lose over 100 pounds in under a year. I launched the Operation Melt blog as a way to share my journey to both keep myself accountable and to help you as you work to crush your own goals. My hope is that something that I am doing will inspire you to try, will motivate you to keep going and will equip you to succeed in your own journey.
It’s just too much
Just over 950 days ago I started my fitness journey. I made the decision to lose over 100 pounds in under a year while not giving up things that I like. I decided to turn to data, project management and improve the balance in my life. It was a simple concept but it wasn’t easy and requires a lot of work.
The human body is very complex and achieving balance requires you to manage a bunch of things. These things add up.
Starting with the basics: calories in, calories out. Tracking and logging all of the food I consume and drinks I put in my body requires effort. Estimating or measuring portion sizes, learning about preparations and how much that impacts the calories and nutrients is complicated.
Tracking my calorie output is also a fair amount of work. Yes my personal fitness tracker that I wear every minute when not in the shower makes it easier to track activity. But I need to ensure that I am planning for when to exercise and making sure that I am properly offsetting high calorie consumption days with high calorie burn days.
That is just the highest level of what I try to track and balance every day. But calories in and calories out is just scratching the surface. The nutrition aspect of the calories I am consuming really matters to me now. I want to maximize protein and make sure I am getting enough fiber. I want to continue to minimize sodium and try to limit myself to 1500mg per day (which ain’t a lot!). Then there are the carbohydrates. I haven’t been very focused on carbs at all during my journey but they make a difference when I am training or prepping for a long race and are something I like to watch but not manage at other times.
Then there is hydration. I want to make sure that I am consuming plenty of water, 140 ounces or more, each day to make sure that I am counteracting what I sweat out. I also try to make sure that I am moderating my alcohol consumption as it isn’t healthy at all but I don’t want to give it up completely, just manage the intake. Plus there is the caffeine which is a struggle for me because I love coffee.
On the calorie expenditure side of the house is the exercise. I want to make sure to exercise 7 days per week and achieve 10k to 15K steps per day on average. I run and track all of my runs and am working to build my speed. At the same time I need to monitor my heart rate while running to make sure that I am not overdoing it – that was a new ah ha as I have watched my average heart rate increase on runs when I am really pushing myself. Plus I track race-over-race performance to see if I am getting better.
Beyond the calorie burn aspects of exercise there is the body building aspects. I am tracking my workouts and weight lifting. I have goals about what I want to be able to lift on bench press and other exercises and I want to be able to do pull-ups. But I can’t just jump right into those things and need to ensure adequate warm-up and that I am balancing the areas of my body that I am working on. To do this I track my body fat percentage about every 6 months as I do with bicep measurements.
But all of this fitness effort takes place with a human body that has other things going on.
Starting with, arguably, the most important, my heart. There is my heart rate, both resting and active, that I track. I try to correlate day-to-day changes my resting heart rate with the factors that might have impacted it. One factor is sleep, which also gets tracked, the quality of which can drive my heart rate up or down. I also keep an eye on my pulse through the day to try to spot those activities that relax me and slow my heart rate vs. where I see increases.
The heart pumps blood but that blood goes through veins that is where the blood pressure comes in. I don’t want my blood pressure to be too high and out of control which goes back and forth of whether I self-regulate or use medication. But I also don’t want it to go too low or else that can have bad side-effects. There is also a natural blood pressure increase during exercise and the speed with which it recovers is an interesting sign of overall heart healthiness.
Those are just a few of the things I track about the physical side of my journey. I could go on and on about other aspects such as website traffic, social interactions, book sales and more. Not to mention equipment, race fees, shoes, etc.
All of this data can quickly become an obsession. I could spend all day, every day tracking, charting, correlating, analyzing and managing it all. I could set little experiments to try things and see if I can influence things positively. Then I could try to normalize the data based on the impact of the added stress that I introduce from measuring it all.
There is just so much that I cannot always balance it all. I can’t spend the time to make it what I want. I can’t keep boring people by talking through every little insight I have. I just have to do my best and continue improving every day.
The concept of progress not perfection has become increasingly important to me. Living a life where I perfectly balance all of the aspects of fitness is just too much. I have tried. The best I can hope for is that I am moving the right direction and not driving myself crazy.
Plus I have to remind myself of my 2020 vision: start loving where I am and the progress I have made, stop trying to fix myself but continue improving every day. This means I need to control my data obsession.
Thanks so much for reading. I hope that my experiences and my tips can help you achieve your own big goals. If we work together we can build a world where goals never die of loneliness!