Mental Victories

Help me raise $500 for the homeless through the charity Back on My Feet.
In sticking with this fitness plan, I have found that 90% of my motivation comes from mental “wins”, no matter how incremental actual progress is. For instance, I consistently lose two pounds a week, which is right at the limit of healthy weight loss. So from one week to the next, the swing is not large on the scale, but I consider increments of five to signify progress. If, for example, I’m in the “upper” 180’s, my goal over the next two weeks is to get into the “mid-180’s” before dropping to the “low-180’s”. In every step, it’s easier to keep going when I can bucket my weight into certain ranges that are less about the exact number, but more for confidence building.

The other great motivator, which again is completely arbitrary, is dropping the tens digit on the scale. I just dropped, for the second time in this fitness plan, the tens digit on the scale. It no longer reads 18- , as it now is in the 17- “weight class”. As silly as it is, given it’s still only two pounds less from the previous week, it makes a difference. It allows me the focus and doubling down of my efforts, which keeps me waking up to hit the gym. I’ll continue to push to go through the cycle of “upper” to “mid” to “low” for these next ten pounds.

What I did not expect already is needing to buy a new belt. I just bought one in January after the prior buckle wore out. Related to the belt issue is the fact my pants I just bought in November are about three inches too big. Again, these are not bad problems to have. They are friendly reminders that I can actually do this.

Additionally, now that I have a strong baseline of fitness, I have begun varying when I go to the gym. Usually, I do evening workouts, but now with morning workouts, my day feels that much more accomplished. Even though I will probably end up with around the same total burn for the day, I come into work and the rest of the day not worried about “hitting my numbers”. In effect, it makes the day much more about doing whatever I want / need to get done outside of hitting the gym. I also think, although I do not have enough statistics to back this up, that working out in the morning is raising my metabolism for much of the morning and afternoon. If I work out at night, I believe I still have that metabolism boost, except not too long after I am going to sleep (and therefore reducing my heart rate / energy level.

Along with morning workouts is the mental belief that I have all this cooped up energy from a good night’s sleep, so I tend to do more in the same amount of time in the morning. It is almost if all the details of the day weigh on me in the evening, whereas in the morning life is much simpler. It relates well to what I have found about my profession of consulting, where the hours may be long, but your mornings are much more “protected” than your evenings. That it is to say that nine times out of ten, I will not be expected to be doing work prior to 8:00 am, but it is very likely I will need to be up until midnight if there’s an urgent deadline.

The below graph represent’s this morning’s workout. Aside from the heart rate, which never seems to get the max heart rate recorded (161bpm), there’s plenty to read into. And just the ability to view such information is helpful in keeping up with the workouts. It stimulates my interest and allows me enough tools or gadgets at my disposal to approach the data from different angles. It’s almost like a safety net of information to keep me from getting dejected if I begin to perceive the several months ahead as insurmountable.

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