Steve Grunwell

Open-source contributor, speaker, and coffee snob

Weight room at Red Lion Denver Southeast Fitness Center

More on Weight Loss

About a month ago I wrote a very personal post on my attempts at weight loss, focusing on what was working for me and what kept me motivated. Sadly, shortly after publishing that post the pounds stopped slipping off so easily; in fact, I’m only down a few pounds from where I was a month ago (I’m not a superstitious person, but the proximity to me writing about how I haven’t plateaued and hitting a plateau is suspect).

To help keep me on track, I asked for a Fitbit Charge HR for my birthday. I was on the fence about getting a Fitbit (I’ve heard horror stories of these expensive devices ending up in drawers), but introducing a wearable like this meant I didn’t have to carry my phone with me every time I went upstairs lest I miss out on precious steps. I have to credit my friend, Angela Bergmann, for pushing me into the pro-Fitbit camp when she explained that simply wearing the Fitbit can guilt you into getting a little more exercise; after all, you bought this to be a tool, not just to join some trend, didn’t you?

In the few days that I’ve had my Fitbit, I’ve actually done pretty well meeting my goals. I’m still using MyFitnessPal to track my calories and times of explicit exercise, and I purchased Sync Solver for Fitbit ($2.99) to get my Fitbit data into Apple HealthKit so I can track that data alongside stats coming in from MyFitnessPal and my Sense. Unfortunately, just walking around the house throughout the day isn’t really enough to satisfy the Fitbit, so I’ve had to look for other ways to get my steps.

Exercising without “Exercising™”

Weight room at Red Lion Denver Southeast Fitness Center

This is my nightmare. (Credit)

You may recall that going for a jog isn’t really my cup of tea. Meanwhile, the elliptical we bought last year sits relatively unused in the corner of our bedroom. My biggest struggle has been finding ways to be active without thinking of it as exercise.

I mentioned in my first post that drumming can be a great form of exercise and–even better–gets counted as steps by the Fitbit. There’s been a noticeable improvement in my drumming (that is, to say, a D- rather than a F), I’m getting my heart-rate up, and I’m still able to listen to music. Likewise, taking the dog for a long walk around the neighborhood when the weather’s nice gives me a chance to listen to some music (or catch up on podcasts) without feeling like I’m working out.

As my weight has been leveling off (around 40lbs higher than I’d like it to be), I’ve noticed that I get the most change when I’m more active; all things being equal (including remaining calories left in the budget at the end of the day), a day where I mow the lawn and eat birthday cake tends to have a more positive impact than a day where I barely move but eat salads.

“Water is the essence of wetness”

The longer I’ve been watching what I’ve been eating, the easier it’s become to resist temptations. There’s an open pack of Oreos in our pantry right now, of which I’ve had zero. Beer has become more of an evening reward for a long day. I find myself drinking more and more water, which is aided by my giant 32oz mug and the ice/water dispenser on the front of my fridge. I drink coffee in the morning, then try to get 1-2 mugs of water in before the end of my workday. Following this routine (plus trying to drink at least one more mug throughout the night), I’m pretty effortlessly consuming 8-12 glasses of water each day.

It’s okay to cheat (sometimes)

Most “healthy lifestyle” ::cough::diet::cough:: literature I’ve read suggests adding a “cheat day” to your weekly routine. This is one day a week where you’re allowed to splurge, whether that’s going back for seconds, having a few beers, or cutting out that big slice of cake. Obviously it’s counter-productive if your cheat day offsets the work you’ve been doing the last six days, but it’s important to let yourself indulge every once in a while; after all, is a world without brownies really one we want to live in?

A delicious plate of brownies

Umm…I need to go to the kitchen. For a thing. Yeah. (Source)

My “cheat day” admittedly shifts a bit, as I plan it around things we might have going on; it’s far easier to stay within your calorie budget when cooking dinner at home than out having a few drinks with friends. For this reason, I tend to default to Saturday as a cheat day, but if I’m able to still keep to my limits (Saturdays are often for shopping and/or yard work), I treat it as a bonus and move on to start the next week.

The one area where I’d avoid letting yourself cheat even slightly is when counting your calories. If you’re eating a burger in your neighborhood pub, it’s much more likely that the burger’s nutritional value is closer to that of another bar/restaurant, so lean that way rather than “home-cooked” when selecting a value within MyFitnessPal. Lying to the app does you no favors, and you’re more likely to get discouraged if you’re consistently under-budget but only because you’ve been under-reporting your intake.

Find what works for you

The biggest takeaway from my last few months trying to lose weight is to find what works for you. For me, it’s exercise that doesn’t feel like exercise, but for you it might be a bike desk or a morning jog. If you can find value besides your health in your activity (relaxation, learning a new instrument, time to catch up on podcasts, etc.) then the actual activity should feel less like a burden.

If Fitbit and/or MyFitnessPal happen to be things that work for you, please feel free to add me on either network. As always, I’m always happy to hear your weight-loss stories, advice or discoveries in the comments.

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3 Comments

  1. Keep it up Steve! I lost 70lb with dance games (DDR or ITG) and a low carb diet. It’s my “exercising without exercising”. If you’ve never played before, rhythm games are incredibly fun, I’ve been playing 10 years.

    Check out a couple Facebook groups if you’re intrigued:
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/565890830137096/ (general players group)
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/136025133272129/ (Our Michigan group)

    • David, that’s fantastic! When I met you in Grand Rapids last year I remember thinking “welp, this guy probably bikes to work”, so I’m shocked to hear you ever had an extra 70lb to lose! Congratulations!

      I’m not sure I’ve even tried a rhythm game (save for Rock Band) since college, but that’s a great suggestion! My wife has a few Kinect fitness games as well, which might be worth revisiting.

  2. nicholas_io

    Don’t give up, what helped me a lot in my journey for loosing weight was a smartphone app, where I could track everything I was eating and it was able to tell me if I was eating too much (or even too little).

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