Something to know about me … I’ve always been into staying active and staying in shape.  But, as I’ve gotten older this has gotten a little more difficult.  Work sometimes gets in the way, our metabolisms are slower so losing weight and building muscle is more difficult, our older bodies are more susceptible to injury, and our energy levels are not as high as they were when we were younger. One day this past winter I realized that I was working many, many hours, and would just head home after work and sit on my couch for a bit before heading to bed, starting all over again the next day with the same horrible routine.  It had to stop!
Another thing to know about me … when I get an idea into my head, I get obsessive about it!  If I am determined to do something, I never do it halfway!  I go all-in!  I do research. I read up on things, I listen to podcasts, I talk about the topic with anyone who will listen,  or who can provide advice.  And I seek out like-minded people who won’t get annoyed with my obsession.  This obsessive behavior will become a bit more obvious the more you read through this blog post.
So, back in February on my way home from work one day, I decided to stop by the local boxing gym to see what it was all about.  It’s not the gym you imagine when you think “Rocky” movies.  But it’s also not the “foo-foo” aerobic class that has pseudo kickboxing, but which is nowhere near real boxing/kickboxing.  This gym has 50+ heavy bags, full weights, machines, treadmills, elliptical machines, rowing machines, etc., and even a boxing ring!  I watched the class that was in progress, and spoke with the Assistant Manager of the club to get more info. That evening I decided to sign up!  And the very next morning I took my first class.  And I LOVE it!  It’s one of my new obsessions!  Over the past 6 months, I have been working hard to get into the best shape of my life!  I take from 4 to 6 boxing classes a week, and after about a month of classes, I started training with a personal trainer 3 times a week in addition to the classes. (Full disclosure, I have taken the past month off from one-on-one training  because of an injury, but I still have been going to the gym, doing the beginning 15 minute HIIT-style warm-up and the ending 15 minute core strength portion of the boxing classes, and hitting the elliptical in between the two.  But once I’m fully healed, I’ll be back to my routine of fully working hard).
Another benefit of joining this gym … the friends I’ve made.  As I said in the beginning of this post, I’ve always been into staying in shape, and have been a member of many a gym in the past.  But honestly, I have never found the camaraderie that I have found at this gym.
I’m not where I want to be physically yet, but in the past 6 months, I lost over 12 pounds, and over 7% body fat!  To me, the body fat loss is much more important than the pounds!  It’s really a better indicate of your overall health!
While exercise is a big part of any weight loss/get in shape journey, as anyone who is in great shape will tell you (No, not me!  I’m just in “good” shape on my way to being in “great” shape), your diet is most important! And not in the “eat less” sense, but in the “eat better” sense.  Please understand, when I write the word “diet”, this does not mean restricting intake.  To me, “diet” means what nutrition you provide your body.   It can be good or it can be bad.  As my trainer said on our first day working together … he “can’t out-train a bad diet.”
With this in mind, I took a serious look at what I was eating.  It wasn’t pretty!!  I was eating lots of fatty foods, lots of crappy food, lots of unhealthy food.  And way too much of it!  I would also frequent the candy jar that we have at work and take not just one or two mini-chocolates, I would take 5 or 6 at a time!  And I’d go to that bowl multiple times a day!  Actually, that bowl gets emptied by stressed out employees a couple of times a day, every day!  In order to make sure I was good and avoided this REALLY bad for me temptation, I did this …
I got a lot of laughs out of that, but honestly, it did help!  And some co-workers said it actually helped them to say no as well.
I also downloaded a calorie counting app.  Yes, I know, eyeroll!  It’s one of those things that most people hate!  But for me it was very helpful to really understand how much I was eating and how much less I SHOULD be eating!  I feel that most people don’t have any clue just how much more they are eating than they need to eat.  At this point, I don’t use that app anymore, because after a few months of using it, I now am more aware of how much food I should be consuming.  And I don’t really need to count every calorie to stay in line with how much I should be having.  But if I find myself slipping again, I definitely will go back to it until I’m back on track!
The app I used also allowed for me to track how much I was consuming of protein, carbs and fat, showing me the percentage that each made up of my daily intake.  This is called tracking your macros.  In the beginning, I actually did something that seems to be a mistake for many people when they begin a diet to lose weight.  They cut the carbs down drastically!  We all hear about how we should avoid carbs.  But honestly, this advice is NOT good!   I was so concerned with carbs, carbs, carbs.  But (remember how I said in the beginning of this post that I can become obsessive) I did some research and found that you actually need a minimum of 45% of your daily calorie intake to be carbs in order to maintain brain function!  DO NOT LOSE THE FUNCTION OF YOUR BRAIN JUST TO LOSE SOME POUNDS ON A SCALE!!!
That being said, everyone needs to look at the QUALITY of the carbs you are eating!  Complex carbs are what we should be consuming!  Foods like oatmeal (no, not the sugary flavored instant oatmeal in the little packets, but real old fashion oats or Steel Cut oats), yams or sweet potatoes (oooh, something yummy and sweet … just don’t add brown sugar on top!!), beans and lentils (which are also a good source of protein) and broccoli, just to name a few.  And cut down (or cut out) simple carbs, the “bad” carbs, like any form of refined sugar (white, brown, corn syrup, etc.) and fruit juices (even too much whole fruit is not good to have).  Here’s a link to a good page that covers the differences between simple and complex carbs.
I could go into a lot more detail about the whole diet aspect of getting in better shape, with links to podcasts I’ve listened to and articles I’ve read, but that’s a lot of info.  If you want more info, definitely head over to the “contact” page and shoot me an email, or post a comment on this blog and I will be happy to provide more info to you.
But what I do want to touch on here are the food delivery companies that are popping up all over the place.  They can make it easier to eat healthier.  I have tried a couple of them, and of course, I researched almost all of them!  (the OCD side of me again!)  I spoke to people who have tried the ones I haven’t tried.
For me, ease of preparation and the amount of time it takes to go from start to table (i.e., to actually eating) was very important.  As I mentioned earlier, I can work long hours at times, so getting home close to 8 p.m. or later, I didn’t want to first have a half an hour or more to get a meal ready.  So I looked at the ready-made type of food delivery services.
I tried one for a little over a month, to give it a good solid try.  I would get weekly deliveries of meals that needed between 5 and 15 minutes of prep time.  Not too bad.  The choices were varied, and the meats and produce in the individually wrapped meals were very fresh.  However, every meal was either too salty or too spicy or both.  I reviewed the ingredients and the nutritional value and was not happy with the numbers I was seeing.  The sodium levels were way too high for one meal, and the carbs were higher than I wanted to consume (even taking into account wanting around 45% to 50% in my macros).  So, even though it was definitely convenient, I stopped that delivery service.
For a while I just did my own thing.  I was pre-planning my meals as best I could, and trying to keep things simple and “clean”.  But I found that too many times I was stressed for time, and I would end up eating something less healthy because it was easier or quicker.  So I started to look at the delivery services again.
The services like Blue Apron or HelloFresh are great if you have the time to do the preparing of the meal.  The ingredients seem to be very fresh and healthy.  And the step-by-step instructions are great for those who are not that experienced in the kitchen (I happen to not have an issue with that) I have a couple of friends who have tried it and they enjoy it.  But for me, it wasn’t going to work, because of the time it takes to actually prepare each meal.  It’s not a fast, quick healthy meal.
After a little bit of time, a coworker recommended Daily Fresh to me.  I looked into it, and immediately I was excited by the ingredients they use!  Everything is real food!  It’s vegan.  Not that I’m vegan.  I eat meat, although I do try to keep the red meat to a minimum, as it’s not as healthy for you.  But that was interesting for me, because one podcast I listened to was about keeping the majority of our intake to non-meat sources of real food, as it’s healthier for us.  Most of the ingredients of the Daily Harvest meals are actually organic.  Is that important?  For me it isn’t a deal breaker, but it is a plus.  So my coworker sent me a link to get 3 free with my first order.  She got 3 free for referring me too, which was nice, as I was able to “thank” her for turning me on to this.
I decided to try 9 meals a week to start.  You can do more or less (in pre-set amounts). I looked through their offerings, which include smoothies, harvest bowls, activated breakfasts (which include overnight oats or chia parfaits) soups, lattes and even desserts.  I haven’t tried the desserts or lattes, but have tried everything else.  I customized my boxes week to week in the beginning to find out which are my favorites.  I have since narrowed down to just having harvest bowls and smoothies delivered.  I use the smoothies in the morning for breakfast (full disclosure, I do add a scoop of protein powder to the smoothie, as I feel the protein level is a bit low for me).  For lunch or dinner (sometimes both), I have a harvest bowl.  The harvest bowls are not enough to fill me up, if I’m going to be honest.  So I add a big tossed salad, with mixed greens, beans, feta cheese and peppers to my lunch and dinner meals, and that seems to be enough.  I even have enough calories left over (not that I’m counting anymore) to have a snack (a HEALTHY snack) either in the afternoon or evening.   But the best part of this for me after the ease and convenience is that these actually taste amazing!    And, they are healthy!!  No excessive sodium, no artificially ingredients!  Just real food, real easy!  (Wow, I sound like a commercial!)
I am so impressed by this food delivery company that I will post the “3 free” link here, if you’d like to give it a try.  Yes, I will get 3 free as well.  So, thanks in advance to those who decide to use the link!  GET THREE FREE WITH YOUR FIRST ORDER.  If you want to ask me about which ones are my favorites, and which I wasn’t that thrilled with (yup, there were a couple that weren’t to my liking) again, you can shoot me a message on my contact page, or add a comment to this post.
So, to wrap up, if you’re looking to get into better shape, to get healthier and to actually have more energy, remember, it’s not JUST about going to the gym.  Diet is probably more important than the exercise.  But addressing both diet and exercise is the best plan of action!!