The Pastor Next Door

The Journey – Nuts and Bolts

a gym

As I see friends who haven’t seen me in a while they are effusive in their praise of physical fitness. Over the last year, my body has transformed. What they can’t see is the transformation that has taken place in my heart, mind, and soul. Those changes are of course nearly impossible to simply see.

As important as the physical fitness has been, it’s these other changes that are more important. They are the changes that will help me to maintain my physical fitness beyond reaching a goal.

The single most common question that I get is, “how did you do it?”

My usual response is, “eat less, move more.” Which in a crude sense, is exactly the answer.

But there’s more to it than that, much more.

What are the nuts and bolts for the change in fitness that I’ve experienced?

The first thing, of which I’ve written about at length, is that my self-perception had to change. I had to love myself enough to pursue fitness. By loving myself I was able to make a decision to choose a fully orbed pursuit of health.

Regarding spiritual fitness, I once again began reading. I know that sounds silly. Reading had fallen from my regular habits. I read only when necessary. But, over the last year I began reading in earnest. Not just reading, but reading books that challenged me spiritually and theologically. I didn’t read fast or to “get through” things but I read and pondered. This included the Scriptures and books written by people that I wanted to learn from.

I know that these aren’t really the nuts and bolts that people are interested in when they ask, “How did you do it?” But, without the inner changes the outward changes would not have been able to happen. We have to deal with the inside so that the outside can be transformed.

What about the nuts and bolts for the physical fitness?

“How did you do it?”

The first step that I took was to identify what was the friction point that inhibited me from pursuing exercise. What I learned was that my key friction point was how long it would take me to exercise for 45 minutes. My gym was about a 20 minute drive. So, 40 minutes round trip, plus 45 minutes to exercise, plus another 20 minutes to shower and dress. In other words, it took two hours to exercise for 45 minutes. I don’t know about you, but I’m not typically able to carve out two hours from my day.

When I learned this, I started a 15 minutes per day walking commitment. My thought was that I could do anything for 15 minutes. Indeed I could and I did for over a year. This got me moving. Once I started moving, I kept moving.

I realized that I wasn’t losing any weight and my body was not changing. I had to change what was going into my body. I spent about six months controlling for carbohydrates. I ate less than 25g per day. This started my weight loss.

After six months I hit a plateau at about 30lbs lost. One of the trainers at my new gym (it is 7 minutes from my house!) told me about something called Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). This is the number of calories your body burns just by living. He shared with me about the need to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight long term. We talked through the role of macronutrients, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. The plan was to maintain muscle while losing weight. To do this I followed a simple plan.

Eating: I targeted approximately 2000 calories per day with 100g protein as the bulk of those calories. This target was based on my BMR. I used this calculator to determine my calorie goal: BMR Calculator. I ate a lot of chicken, salmon, turkey, cruciferous vegetables, and green leafy vegetables.

Tracking: I used an app called Carb Manager. Its free version allowed me to track calories and macronutrients. The premium version I purchased to get finer control. For about a year I tracked almost everything that I ate and drank. This helped me to understand what foods were costing me in terms of calories. It was surprising to see how many calories were in things like dressings and sauces. Tracking is critical because it keeps you honest.

Exercising: I began lifting weights three days a week and I used an app called, FitBod. It uses AI to construct workouts. There are gifs that show you how to do the lifts and it tracks all the weights that I lift. It’s like having a personal trainer in my phone. I also walked for at least 30 minutes, at least twice a week.

That’s it. That’s the nuts and bolts.

That’s how I did it.

What questions do you have? What other information do you want? How can I help you on your journey?


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