Category Archives: Fitness

The Complete Guide to Treadmill Desk Walking While Working

Just about every day, I spend at least some portion of my day walking on a treadmill desk while doing my work.

I started doing this about four years ago–and although I haven’t always been consistent with it–I’ve found it to be a very easy way to burn some extra calories during the day and gain some of the health benefits from not sitting all day long.

The basic idea is pretty simple, but there are many things to take into consideration when planning your own treadmill desk setup or even deciding if it is worth the effort.

In this post, I’m going to go over exactly how to get setup with a treadmill workstation–including going over the exact setup I am using. I’ll also go over exactly how many calories you might expect to burn from walking while working and some tips to help you get started and get the most benefits from doing it.

Obviously if you work from home, like I do, you’ll have an easier time getting a treadmill desk set up than if you are in the office, but I’ve found that many companies today are willing to entertain the idea of employees using a treadmill desk. Some companies even have desks already for employees to use.

But, even if you don’t work from home and your boss isn’t convinced you need to walk while working, you can still set up your own treadmill desk at home and walk while working when you do work from home, answering your own personal emails, or even just reading a book.

Equipment

Let’s start off by talking about the equipment you need to set up a treadmill desk at your home or your office.

There are two main routes you can go with your treadmill desk. You can construct your own setup using a treadmill and a standing desk or just something to hold your laptop or you can buy a pre-made treadmill desk setup.

For my particular setup, I’ve chosen to create my own, partly because I’m cheap–ahem, frugal–and partly because at the time that I was considering creating a treadmill desk no one was making them.

Rolling your own treadmill desk

The first thing you’ll need to roll your own treadmill desk will be a treadmill. If you are just using a treadmill for walking, you probably don’t have to be as picky as you would be if you are using it for running. You still might want to get a treadmill that is long enough that you don’t risk falling off of it, but for the most part, a cheap standard treadmill will do.

However, you may want to make sure that whatever treadmill you select does offer a decent range of inclines, as once you get used to it, you’ll burn a lot more calories walking at an incline–but, we’ll talk more about that in a little bit.

For a very inexpensive option, you might want to consider the: Weslo Cadence G 5.9 Treadmill The Complete Guide to Treadmill Desk Walking While Working
 The Complete Guide to Treadmill Desk Walking While Working The Complete Guide to Treadmill Desk Walking While WorkingIt’s a highly rated and cheap treadmill, but it does have one problem. The incline is only two-position. It can either be set at 1.5 percent or 6 percent.

However it is very compact, which is a big benefit when you are trying to move it around.

If you want something much nicer that you could actually do some real running on, check out the: LifeSpan TR 1200i Folding Treadmill The Complete Guide to Treadmill Desk Walking While Working
 The Complete Guide to Treadmill Desk Walking While Working

 The Complete Guide to Treadmill Desk Walking While WorkingIt goes up to 11 miles per hour and has 15 incline levels. Has very solid reviews on Amazon, but it’s about twice the weight as the Weslo.

You might also have some luck finding a used treadmill off of Craigslist, but just be aware that hauling around a 200-to-300 pound piece of equipment is not very easy.

Once you have the treadmill itself, you have essentially two options:

  • Mount something on the treadmill to hold your laptop
  • Get a standing desk that will fit over the treadmill

Mounting your laptop on the treadmill

The cheapest and easiest route–and the one I employ myself–is to create a shelf to rest your laptop on while you work.

I’ve been using: SurfShelf Treadmill Desk: Laptop and iPad Holder The Complete Guide to Treadmill Desk Walking While Working
 The Complete Guide to Treadmill Desk Walking While Working The Complete Guide to Treadmill Desk Walking While WorkingI’ve had my SurfShelf for about four years and I’ve found it works just great. The only issue is that I can’t really use a mouse, so I have to use the trackpad on my laptop. I don’t have it setup now, but I’ve also mounted an extra monitor on the wall or ceiling to add another display that I could plug my laptop into.

Using a standing desk

Ok, so you might be wondering how you can get a standing desk over a regular treadmill.

Well, it turns out, for most regular treadmills, you can just take off the top part that holds the control panel and or you can make the desk high enough that it goes right over it.

But, if you don’t like either of those options, you can purchase something like: Rebel Treadmill 1000 For Use With Standing Treadmill Desk The Complete Guide to Treadmill Desk Walking While Working
 The Complete Guide to Treadmill Desk Walking While WorkingThe only problem with these types of treadmills is that they typically don’t have any kind of incline.

Either way, you’ll need a standing desk. The biggest consideration here is to get one that doesn’t have a bar across the bottom. You can imagine how that wouldn’t work very well with a treadmill below it. I’ve found the Rebel Desk Adjustable-Height Standing Desk with Teak Top The Complete Guide to Treadmill Desk Walking While Working to be a great desk with many positive reviews.

 The Complete Guide to Treadmill Desk Walking While Working The Complete Guide to Treadmill Desk Walking While WorkingThe Rebel desk is adjustable, so you can get it to work with different height treadmills, but you’ll want to take some measurements to make sure that everything is going to work correctly.

You might also want to consider the TrekDesk Treadmill Desk The Complete Guide to Treadmill Desk Walking While Working.
 The Complete Guide to Treadmill Desk Walking While WorkingThis is a bit of a cheaper made desk, b The Complete Guide to Treadmill Desk Walking While Workingut it makes up for it by being adaptable to just about any treadmill. You can see in the picture that the desk is going right over the regular sized treadmill. It also affords you quite a bit of space and has drink holders.

Using an all-in-one treadmill desk setup

A good all-in-one solution can be a bit expensive. But, if you are going to use it every day, and you like having something that will just work out of the box, it is a good choice. There are quite a few options to choose from, but this LifeSpan TR1200-DT5 Treadmill Desk The Complete Guide to Treadmill Desk Walking While Working is a good choice and has excellent reviews.
 The Complete Guide to Treadmill Desk Walking While Working

Again, the only problem here is that there is no incline.

For a cheaper alternative, check out Exerpeutic 2000 WorkFit High Capacity Desk Station Treadmill The Complete Guide to Treadmill Desk Walking While Working.
 The Complete Guide to Treadmill Desk Walking While Working The Complete Guide to Treadmill Desk Walking While WorkingThe construction is not quite as sturdy, but it does offer incline and is about half the price. It also looks like it folds up to be pretty compact. The length is a bit short as well, but it’s definitely one I’d consider.

My treadmill desk

For my setup, I am just using a pretty standard, somewhat old treadmill, and the SurfShelf Treadmill Desk: Laptop and iPad Holder The Complete Guide to Treadmill Desk Walking While Working. It works pretty well for me, but I’m only on there for about an hour a day right now. If I were walking longer, I would probably want to be able to use a real mouse instead of my trackpad.

treadmill desk The Complete Guide to Treadmill Desk Walking While Working

Other equipment

There are a few other equipment issues you may want to consider for walking on a treadmill desk while working.

In particular I found that my laptops would sometimes slip off of the SurfShelf. My solution–at least for my Mac Book–was to utilize a case that had little feet. I used the iPearl mCover Hard Shell Case for 13-inch Model A1425 / A1502 MacBook Pro (with 13.3-inch Retina Display) – Frosted CLEAR The Complete Guide to Treadmill Desk Walking While Working, but a rubberized case would probably work just as well.

You also probably want to either get a pair of good walking or running shoes. I just use my running shoes when walking on the treadmill and I don’t have any problems. But, in the past when I walked in dress shoes, it was not a very comfortable experience. I don’t recommend it.

The same goes with clothing. You might want to have a change of clothes so that you can be pretty comfortable. Gym shorts are probably the best, but most slacks should be fine. Just don’t try and walk for hours in tight jeans–you may experience some… chaffing.

Finally, if you are using a step counter of some sort, it’s worth considering where it is that you wear it. I was using a Fitbit Flex for a while and because I was wearing it on my wrist and not really moving my wrist, it wasn’t registering my steps. A Fitbit Zip might be a better choice if you want to accurately track your steps.

Calories burning on the treadmill desk

Ok, so just how effective is walking while working?

I’ve found using a treadmill desk to be a very good way to help lose weight without much extra effort. To me that is the main benefit of using a treadmill desk.

But, exactly how much weight can you expect to lose?

Well, in order to figure that out, you need to know how many calories you’ll burn while walking on the treadmill desk.

For all the calculations in this post I used the Android app Treadmill Calorie Calculator. I looked online for other calculators and I couldn’t find anything more accurate than this app.

Now, according to an article I read, based on a study at the Mayo Clinic, you can burn between 100-to-130 calories an hour walking on the treadmill while working. Not bad, but not great either. If you walk 5 or 6 hours a day, that could really add up.

I don’t know about you though. I personally wanted to know exactly how many calories I was burning and how incline affected that number, so let’s compare the actual real numbers.

fire hand The Complete Guide to Treadmill Desk Walking While Working

Walking at 2 MPH

First, let’s look at the most common scenario: walking at 2 MPH with no incline. This might seem pretty slow, but you won’t be able to walk much faster than this and actually get work done. In fact, when you first start out, this might even be a bit too fast–but, more on that in a bit. For now, let’s look at how many calories you actually burn in an hour.

I currently weight about 217 pounds.

So, according to my calculations, if I walk at 2 MPH with 0 incline for 60 minutes, I’ll have burned about 260 calories.

If you weigh 150 pounds, you’d burn about 180 calories.

Assuming you don’t eat more, burning an extra, say, 200 calories a day will result in almost half a pound weight loss per week. Not bad for just walking on a treadmill.

But, we can do better…

Utilizing an incline

Now, when you first start out, you probably won’t be able to do much of an incline. But, I have found that although I can’t really go much faster than 2 MPH and work, I can increase my incline and still work just as well (once I get adjusted to it.)

But, I’ve always wondered how many extra calories walking at an incline was actually burning.

It turns out, it’s a lot.

I walk at a 10% incline when I walk on the treadmill. That is a pretty high incline, but I worked my way up, little by little.

According to my calculations, being 217 pounds, if I walk on the treadmill for 1 hour at a 10% incline, I burn a whopping 544 calories!

That is enough calories to lose a full pound a week.

If you weigh about 150 pounds, you’d burn about 376 calories, which is still quite good.

Conclusion: treadmill walking is very effective for weight loss

So, based on those numbers, I am pretty convinced it is well worth the effort. If you just spend an hour a day walking on the treadmill while working, you’ll see a pretty nice benefit without much effort. If you spend a few hours a day walking, you’ll get a much bigger benefit.

Before you get excited though, let me caution you about two things.

First of all, you will be more hungry if you burn more calories walking on the treadmill, so unless you are careful with your diet, you can easily eat back what you’ve burned.

Second, you might have aspirations of walking 8 hours a day, but I’ve found that it just isn’t practical. There were time periods where I would walk as much as 3 hours a day, but it usually was pretty uncomfortable and took some getting used to. I’ve found it’s much better to set smaller goals like just an hour or two a day rather than to burn myself out trying to be overly ambitious.

There are also other health benefits other than weight loss to consider. Sitting for long periods of time has been found to be very destructive to humans, so getting up and walking for part of the day, or even standing could have some long lasting health benefits.

Getting started

Ok, so now that you know how to get your treadmill desk set up and that it actually is effective for weight loss, let’s talk about how to get started.

started treadmill desk The Complete Guide to Treadmill Desk Walking While Working

The first thing I’d recommend you do is to make some kind of commitment. Make a small one that will be easy for you to keep. Perhaps commit to walking just 30 minutes a day, each and every day.

You need to establish a habit in order to be successful–especially if you are trying to lose weight. Walking once or twice on the treadmill while working won’t have much of a benefit, and doing one marathon day of 8 hours of walking won’t help you much in the long run either. The most effective way to get results is to make a habit to walk every single day. Over time all those 30 minute or hour walks will add up, so start small to make sure you stick to it.

Start with 1 MPH. I know it is slow. But, you need to get used to walking while working. Anyone can go around for an hour and pretend to work while walking on the treadmill, but if you are going to do that, you might as well walk at 3 or 4 MPH and just listen to music or an audio book. If you are actually going to get extra benefits out of the time you take, you need to actually learn how to work while walking and starting out slow will help you do that.

Eventually work your way up to 2 MPH, but don’t go past that. I know you may think you can go faster than 2 MPH, but the benefits are going to be marginal and it is going to get very difficult to work.

It is much more effective to increase your incline over time than it is to increase your speed.

Why?

Because, there is a limit to how fast you can walk and still maintain control over your computer, but, once you get used to it, the incline increase doesn’t even seem to affect you. I don’t even notice the difference between walking at an incline and not anymore.

That brings me to the next step, increase your incline, slowly, over time. You can see from the stats above that increasing your incline has a huge effect on the number of calories you burn overall. So, if you want to be most effective, start increasing that incline, but do it slowly.

Some final tips

Here are a few final tips I have that will help you become a better treadmill desk worker:

  • Treadmill desk walking is great for doing tasks like answering email. You’ll find that some tasks are better suited to walking while working than others. I’ve found that it is difficult to think about really complex problems while walking, so I try to do less computational tasks while walking, like answering emails or making calls.
  • Reading books or listening to audio books is another good combo. You might not like working with your actual computer while walking, but you still don’t have to miss out on the multi-tasking benefits of utilizing a treadmill. I’ll often just read a book or listen to an audio book while I am walking. If you can’t work from home or you can’t get a treadmill desk in your office, you can use this time to expand your horizons and increase your technical knowledge by consuming books and other educational media.
  • Phone conversations or meetings are great for treadmill desks. Yes, you may breathe a little loud, but if you walk slow enough, the only way someone will know you are walking is if they hear the treadmill in the background. I attended many SCRUM meetings while walking on a treadmill. In fact, it was a common joke to ask me what my speed and inclination were.
  • Don’t go too fast. I’ve already covered this, but seriously, don’t do it. There isn’t much difference in calories burned between 2 MPH and 2.5 MPH, but 2.5 MPH is a much more difficult pace to work at. Increase inclination instead of increasing speed.
  • It takes time to develop the coordination, don’t get discouraged. It’s not like you are just going to hop on a treadmill with your laptop and feel comfortable. It is going to take some time before you get adjusted. Give yourself at least a couple of weeks before you give up. It will be worth taking the time to develop the skill.
  • Break up the time. Walking for a whole hour or more can be difficult, but walking for 20 minutes or even 10 minutes is usually not that bad. There is no reason why you can’t break up the time throughout the day to make things easier for yourself.

Well, there you have it. It’s impossible to answer every question about a treadmill desk. But, if you have any I didn’t cover, please ask them below.

If you liked this post, join over 6,000 other software developers and IT professionals who are part of the Simple Programmer community. Also, if you are interested in standing desks in general, you might want to check out my buddy, Josh Earl’s site, Desk Hacks.

 

 

Anything Worth Doing is Worth Doing Right

It seems that I am always in a rush.

I find it very difficult to just do what I am doing without thinking about what is coming next or when I’ll be finished with whatever I am working on.

rushing Anything Worth Doing is Worth Doing Right

Even as I am sitting and writing this blog post, I’m not really as immersed in the process as I should be. Instead, I am thinking about the fact that I need to get this post done and ready to be published today.

For some reason, I always feel like the clock is ticking down on me. I always feel rushed and that I need to rush things along.

I don’t think I’ve ever sat down and written something that had more than a single rough draft and a final draft. I can’t imagine having multiple drafts of a thing.

Why am I saying this? Because, lately I’ve been meditating on the phrase “anything worth doing is worth doing right.”

Am I really giving it my all?

I’ve been thinking about that phrase a lot and how much I tend to ignore it. I get a lot done, but what I get done isn’t always as satisfying as it should be, because I often find I’m not applying myself as much as I should be.

This “weakness” seems to permeate every area of my life. As I’m running or lifting weights at the gym, I often realize that I’m not giving it my all. As I am writing a blog post, or writing code, I get the same feeling of not giving 100%. When I’m playing with my daughter, or spending time with my family, I’m often not 100% there—but, it’s not like I’m somewhere else either. I’m often just sort of wandering through life a little bit “checked out.”

The best word I can use to describe this is slothfulness. I’ve been feeling this pressing need to eliminate as much slothfulness from my life as possible.

I’m beginning to realize how much time and effort is wasted on doing things in a half-ass manner. If I sit down to do some work and I don’t know exactly what I am doing, if I’m not focused on a specific task I need to get done, I end up wasting a lot of time.

But, it’s actually more than that. I’ve found ways to make sure I am focused on the task at hand in order to make sure that I don’t waste time by taking too long to accomplish a particular task, but what is more difficult is giving 100% to the task at hand. It’s quite possible to be 100% focused, but not to be giving it all you’ve got.

There is a huge penalty in not giving it all you’ve got. This is the real struggle—at least for me—at least right now.

I know the work I am producing could be better. I know the time I’m spending could be more fulfilling, if, I could just fully subscribe to the belief that anything worth doing is worth doing right.

Fixing the problem

The good news is that I have been thinking about some ways to combat this problem. Here are some of my ideas:

First of all, I am going to try and not do anything unless I know what I am going to do and I am going to devote 100% of my focus to that activity.

That doesn’t mean that I have to plan out every aspect of my day ahead of time, but it means that I have to at least plan out what I am going to do before I do it.

For example, today I decided that I was going to go to a coffee shop and get the intro letter for early readers of my book done, write an email that talked about the revisions to the chapters in my book and write this blog post.

I didn’t plan for reading through my email, checking Facebook or doing anything else during that time. I’m sitting here working on exactly what I had planned to work on and I am putting my full focus into that work.

I’ll also plan out when I’ll do certain things so that they aren’t hanging over my head and distracting me from other things I am doing. I find that I can’t focus on the task at hand when I have some uncertainty about another task that I need to get done. Whenever I feel that uncertainty about something that needs to get done, my plan is to schedule it so that I can take it off my mind.

Setting standards

Next up, I’m going to try to have a bit more rigorous standards for what I am doing before I start doing it. I’ve found that it’s often difficult for me to decide what “doing something right” means. It’s pretty subjective and when I feel like I am done with a task, my judgment tends to be skewed. I’m likely to call something done that is “good enough” rather than “right.”

Sometimes the effort to take something from “good enough” to “right” is very small, so it is worth taking the extra time and putting forth the extra effort to go the last mile. I can spend a large amount of time and effort on a task or project and have this gnawing feeling of discontent if I am willing to accept “good enough.” This acceptance of “good enough” often negates the entire reward of the effort, so I want to strive towards doing things right instead of just “good enough,” even if it takes more time.

Stop rushing

That brings me to the next point: stop rushing.

I’m always rushing. Always trying to get things done as fast as possible so that I can be as prolific as possible. While being more prolific might have a higher monetary reward, I’ve found it often comes at the cost of feeling discontent with the work being done.

flowers Anything Worth Doing is Worth Doing Right

This one is going to be one of the most difficult ones for me. Even now, thinking about this very subject, my fingers are still frantically striking the keyboard as I glance at the clock, worried about how long it is taking me to write this post.

I think a solution to this problem may be to block out ample blocks of time to work on a thing. To purposely give myself breathing room. For example, I might feel less rushed if I came here to write a blog post, that I figured would take me about an hour, but I gave myself two hours to work on it instead. And, if I forced myself to spend the entire allotted time working on it, I would probably not feel rushed and I’d would produce an overall better product.

The next task I do, I am going to try and block off time and force myself to use the entire allotted time.

Living in the moment

Let’s see what else is left. How about living in the moment—another extremely difficult one for me now. I have a difficult time stopping to smell the roses. I imagine that if I stop rushing, I’ll probably solve this problem as well, but for now, I am going to try to start purposely giving 100% to what I am doing at any given time.

With every activity I am doing, work or otherwise, I am going to try and focus 100% on what I am doing and also give 100% to that activity. This one will be difficult—I am sure of it. But, this might be the most important thing to focus on. Sometimes I feel like my life is passing me by because I’m always looking forward or backward—I’m never taking time to stop and smell the roses.

One aspect of this that I have been thinking about is to actively think about what I am doing at any given moment and to clearly define it. For example, if I am sitting on the couch, I should ask myself what am I doing. Am I having a conversation with someone? Am I relaxing? Am I doing something else? At any given time I should be able to define what it is I am doing. It doesn’t necessarily have to be something productive. It is better to actively decide that I am spending time browsing Facebook than it is to just be sitting at a computer “doing nothing.”

In fact, I just purchased The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment. Not sure if this book is good or not, but several people have recommended it to me and it came to mind today.

Drop more stuff

Finally, I think I need to drop anything that I am not going to do right. This is the full interpretation of “anything worth doing is worth doing right.” I simply need to make a rule that if I am not willing to do something right, if I am not willing to devote my full energy to it, if I am not willing to slow down and not rush through it, then I simply should not do it at all.

I often have thought that if I stopped splitting my focus so much that I’d be able to be much more successful at the things I do choose to do. This is another difficult one for me, because I tend to see one of my greatest assets as my ability to do so many different things. It’s scary and dangerous to either drop things that I am used to doing or to recommit to them, giving 100% effort.

At a surface level, I know that it would be better to focus on a smaller number of things and to dive deeper into those things, but at a deeper level, I’m scared to do it. I’m the kind of person that likes to leave as many doors open as possible. The thought of closing some doors scares me, but I know I need to do it.

Well, that is about it. I’m trying to use this time in Hawaii, away from my normal schedule to be as introspective as possible. Expect some big changes in the next few months as I start to get everything figured out and set the course for the future.

For more of my thoughts about life, and software development, join the Simple Programmer community here.

Get Up And Code 34: Breaking Your Running Plateau

I hate running.

But… I run 3.1 miles (5 kilometers) three times a week.

That relatively short distance doesn’t seem to get any easier for me, so in this episode of Get Up and CODE, I decided to ask Iris what I was doing wrong and how I can break through this plateau.

Iris gave me some great advice that I’ve actually been using to really improve me running and… I’m actually starting to like it.

Check out this week’s episode and let me know what you think.

Get Up And Code 32: Do You Know What Your MQ Is?

I’m pretty excited about this episode of Get Up and CODE.  Iris and I had the chance to interview the CEO of an up and coming fitness gadget making company, Skulpt and their new product Aim.

Aim, is exciting to me, because it is something completely new.  I never seen a device like this before.  The Aim will actually measures your body fat percentage at certain body parts very accurately and tell you how strong or dense you muscle is (a term they call muscle quality.)

When I heard about this device, I immediately reached out to Skulpt to try and see if I could get someone to talk about it on the show, because I thought it was a perfect fit for Get Up and CODE.

Oh, also, Aim isn’t out yet, but you can get yours early at a discount price from their Indiegogo campaign here.

So, check out the podcast and let me know what you think.  I can’t wait till I get to actually try one of these.

Get Up And Code 31: Building A Fitness Plan With Jessica Engstrom

Many developers know how to get started with a new technology, but getting started with a fitness plan can be intimidating.

Worse yet, you can get bad advice and waste your time.

In this episode of Get Up and CODE, Iris and I are talking to Jessica Engstrom about her fitness goals.  The plan is to develop a diet and fitness plan for Jessica.

jessica engstrom thumb Get Up And Code 31: Building A Fitness Plan With Jessica Engstrom

Iris will be handling the diet part and I’ll be handing the workout part.

In this episode, I really wanted to dive in and talk about how Iris and I were going to go about creating a fitness plan for Jessica, so that you can learn how to create one for yourself.

Get Up And Code 29: Sit Down With Matt Baxter-Reynolds, Author Of Death Of The PC

Just published a new podcast episode of the Get Up and CODE podcast.

In this episode Iris and I talk top Matt Baxter-Reynolds author of Death of The PC and popular blogger for ZDNet.

matt Get Up And Code 29: Sit Down With Matt Baxter Reynolds, Author Of Death Of The PC

This episode was a great reminder of how important it can be to take care of your health before you end up having an issue.

I found Matt’s attitude about running a marathon to be very refreshing.  He didn’t say he might do it or he would try, he said he will do it.  Because of his absolute belief in what he wants to accomplish, he is much more likely to succeed.

I find this kind of attitude to be the attitude that breeds success and it is no wonder why Matt has had such a successful career in technology.

You can listen to the episode right here:

Programmer Fitness Journey: A Lifestyle Change not a Diet

A little off topic from my usual posts, but I thought enough tech people struggle with some of the same problems I do for this to be an interesting post.

I’ve had an interesting fitness life.  I seem to always be swinging from one extreme to another in regards to physical fitness.

In high school I ended up deciding to start lifting weights and play sports.  I gained about 50 lbs of muscle over the summer of my sophomore year.

When I was in college, I started an acting and modeling career on the side, eventually moving to Santa Monica when I signed on with an agency down there.  I even competed in a bodybuilding competition.

But over time, perhaps due to stress, long hours, and so many life changes, I ended up gaining weight.  I would continually hit a point where I would want to get back in shape and I would do some extreme form of dieting and exercise program.

I would bounce from a peak of 300 lbs to a low of about 210 lbs.

It seems every time I would lose the weight, I would eventually gain it back.

Lifestyle vs extreme diet

The problem really is a matter of lifestyle vs extreme diet.  One of the things I have always been good at is extreme discipline.  I can do the most extreme thing for a long amount of time, but eventually it will wear anyone down.

I would do diets where I ate zero carbs for 2-3 months, eliminating anything that contains sugar, including fruit.  Or I would lift weights for 2+ hours each day.  Something like that is not maintainable over the long run, and when I finally would burn out from it, I would go the other way, undoing all that hard work.

I finally got to the point now where I’ve figured out that I need to have a healthy lifestyle instead of doing some kind of extreme diet.

What I am doing now

I am currently in the process of dropping down from 270 lbs (around Feb of this year) to probably around 210 lbs or so depending on body fat vs lean mass levels.

I’m currently down to 235 lbs, and this is how I’m doing it.

Walking while working

I bought a used treadmill off craigslist.  I have a cheap laptop that I can use to remote into my main workstation, and I set up a nice high resolution computer monitor on a wall mount by the treadmill.

img 20100824 092440 thumb Programmer Fitness Journey: A Lifestyle Change not a Diet

I work from home, so it is easier for me to do something like this.  But, I bet many people end up working from home to check email or do something else, even if you have a regular office job.

I set a pretty simple goal each day of walking about 45 minutes while I am working.  I just set the treadmill on 2 MPH and an incline which has been steadily rising and is now at 7.

At this pace it is pretty easy to type and control the track pad, but I usually try to time my treadmill time to be when I am in meetings.  Think about all those wasted hours sitting in a chair during a meeting when you could be burning calories.  If you are in a meeting with me, chances are, I am walking on the treadmill.

Walking while reading

I also set a goal for myself to read a technical book for 30 minutes a day.  No reason I can’t be walking on the treadmill while I do that.  So I grab my iPad and walk and read.  I end up burning a bunch more calories with really minimal effort.

Nutrition and portion size

I don’t do anything extreme anymore.  Basically, I just eat healthy most of the time.  I also am always aware of and limit my portion size.  This is a major change from what I used to do, but it works so much better.  I am not grumpy all the time and I am not cooking all the time.

Here is a typical day of meals for me.

Breakfast: Egg McMuffin sandwich which I make using a whole wheat english muffin, 1 egg and a piece of light pepper-jack cheese.

Mid-morning snack: An apple or a piece of fruit.

Lunch: A turkey sandwich on light bread or whole wheat bread with light cheese and light mayo.  Some baby carrots.  Some fruit.

Afternoon snack: A handful of peanuts or a piece of fruit.

Dinner: Usually a portion of a whole roasted chicken, some frozen vegetables and brown rice.  I’ll also grab a 6” subway sandwich or something else, I just limit the portion size.

Desert: A small 100 calorie or so ice cream pack or pudding.

I’m not starving, and if I am hungry during the day, I grab something.  I just make sure it is healthy.  Most of my nutrition information comes form articles I read on bodybuilding.com.  It is a great resource for learning about nutrition.

I’ll usually go out to dinner once a week, but I split an entrée with my wife.  Most restaurants serve portions that are way too big for one person.  I’ll also cook something on the weekends when I have more time.  If I am going to eat something that I know isn’t going to be healthy, I make sure that I eat less at other times during the day, and I make sure the portion size is small.

I am amazed how easy it is to control yourself when you are not starving from some extreme diet.

Running

I started running using a couch to 5k running program that has you running a 5k (3.1 mi) in 9 weeks.  I used an app for my Android phone to get started.

Since I completed the program, I now run 3 times a week for 3.1 miles.  To be honest this is probably the hardest part of my routine, but it is pretty important to get a good cardio workout and 3 times a week isn’t all that bad. It is something that I will try to continue to do for the rest of my life.  It is a good habit and doesn’t take up much time.

Lifting

I am just hitting the gym at the clubhouse in my subdivision 3 times a week and only lifting for about 20 minutes.  I used to do prolonged workout sessions for several hours a day, but I have found that 20 minutes is enough time to maintain the muscle that I have.  If I were trying to put on mass I would probably boost that up a bit, but what I am doing now I know that I could continue to do even after losing the weight.

Goals and philosophy

I set a goal that every two weeks I will need to be 5 lbs lighter.  I check my weight every day when I get up in the morning in order to keep myself on track.  Having a short goal like that and knowing exactly what makes it a success makes it easier to see if I am on track or not.

If I am not losing weight fast enough, I cut back a bit and increase some cardio to make sure I make it.  If I am losing weight too fast, I relax a bit.

Each small goal keeps me in check and propels me forward.  I also said that if I was over my weight for every 1/3 a lb over I would have to walk an extra mile each day until I made the weight, but so far I’ve never been over.

The basic idea when I started this program was to make lifestyle changes that would allow me to maintain this kind of a routine even when I am not trying to lose weight.  I know exactly what I need to do each day and it really isn’t that hard.  I don’t feel like I am on a diet program, I feel like I am just living my life and being healthy.

Oh, and I never eat fast food anymore.  Never.  It just isn’t worth it.