Bonnie in Washington State

Pushing the Limits: Weight Loss Journey Part 2

Note: Ads on this site provide a small commission to 43BlueDoors. All proceeds are donated to supporting young girls rescued from human trafficking.

“Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop! The guns were going off and we paddled as fast as we could.”

That’s Jinger, our spin instructor, telling us a story. She and her cousin were paddling out past a yacht in the bay, she recounts, when they noticed the men in suits holding automatic rifles.

“Pop, pop, pop!” she says again in a staccato that perfectly jives with the beat of the music thumping in the dark room as we spin away on our bikes.

“Move as fast as you can, run!” she commands. I only have a half-second to wonder if the command was meant for us, or if that was what she said to her cousin. I picture her and her cousin in a tiny paddle boat spinning for their lives. And dangit if it wasn’t working! I was cranking and spinning as if my life depended on it. I looked over at my sister Tina and I could see that she was into it too.

Jinger is a master storyteller. She is also a great educator and motivator. She is even pretty good at rapping. Jinger is a perfect blend of everything Tina and I need to push us to the edge of our riding every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

As for Jinger’s story, well, they paddled to the beach and ran as fast as they could. Then somebody told them that they had accidentally paddled through a Miami Vice set.

Trin behind a herd of cows on the Michelson Trail in South Dakota
I start slow in the morning as if I’m riding behind this herd of cows that held us up on the Michelson Trail in South Dakota

“If it feels good, do it,” is really bad advice

Our spin instructor is very entertaining and she makes the class more enjoyable, but it is still a struggle. When I wake up in the morning I’m just this side of dead. My heart rate is often on the lowest end of normal and my temperature was 94°F when I took a measurement this past month. Maybe hibernation is why I sleep so well. But this means it is a long way to get my heart rate up to exercise level early in the morning.

Even though Tina and I get to the spin room 20 to 30 minutes early to warm up it still feels like torture. It is a struggle until I finally reach and hold at least a 90% heart rate for a couple of minutes. It doesn’t feel good to push when my whole body is telling me to lay back down.

After holding that 90% I can hit that runner’s high and the rest of the class is much more enjoyable even when I’m still pushing.

“Push through that barrier!” – Jinger

The biggest changes in our lives often happen after we do something very difficult. It doesn’t feel good at the time to push those limits, but I know long term it’s what I need to do.

On the other hand, it feels very good to eat that lemon bar, but I know the long-term impact will not give me the results I’m trying to achieve.

YOLO, you only live once, and “if it feels good do it” is a great way to keep us exactly where we are. Always following that advice is a sure-fire way to maintain a mediocre life, or worse.

There is an element of truth in every catchy saying. We should enjoy the journey, but making decisions based on how we feel about it at the moment holds us back. Some of the best parts of the journey of life are those achievements after doing something difficult.

Whether we like it or not we all have walls that can box us in. Some walls are perceptions we have adopted from the people or culture around us, while others are walls of our own making. If we do not push against those walls the box will grow smaller. If we push by doing the hard work and confronting ourselves then the box gets bigger. As it grows bigger, freedom expands.

“I don’t want to be skinny, I want to be strong!” Jinger exclaimed this morning.

The more I push myself now the more mountains I can climb. The Swiss Alps are still in our future.

Trin on a bicycle next to the road around West Maui
Ten years ago Trin and I cycled 60 miles around the West Maui Loop. In spin class when climbing a long hill I picture going up one of the mountains on the far end of the loop. I’m still traveling, even on a stationary bike.

Tracking Calories is like managing a budget

Two months ago when I started this health change and weight loss goal I likened it to reaching financial independence. I see so many similarities between weight loss advice and the advice given by personal finance writers and advisors.

My goal is to duplicate the principles I used to reach financial independence to help me achieve weight loss. Personal finance is personal, and so is weight loss. What works for one may not work for the next person. But the first month, I didn’t follow my own financial independence path. I was tracking all my calories like a budget. I’ve never written a personal budget for spending management. Time to modify my plan to what will work for me.

Something I’ve changed

I’m not against budgets, most personal finance advisors suggest a budget. They can be a very good thing, but it’s not what works for me. Many health advisors suggest counting calories. To me, it is as laborious as writing a budget and as detrimental. By nature, I’m an overachiever. If the budget/calorie count says only spend “100,” I’m going to beat that. Working out at the gym five times a week requires more than what most calorie counters prescribe.

I tracked my calories and remained under budget my entire first month. Not one pound was lost and I got sick.

Some nutritionists would probably say I was not eating enough in my first month. It could just be that I was gaining muscle and weight loss takes time to catch up. The fact of the matter is I want to learn practices that I can maintain even after we get back on the road next year to travel full-time again.

In my second month I threw out the calorie counter and I lost five pounds. Maybe, if I stuck to it I could make counting calories work. If I’m honest with myself it’s not counting calories that will have the most impact on my weight loss. Addressing what I eat and why will impact it. Seeking for and looking that truth in the face, is what will change my trajectory.

Bonnie with a bicycle on Death Road in Bolivia
Cycling Death Road in Bolivia. Trin and I have a lot of cycling for me to travel again in spin class.

Being Satisfied, the Heart of the Matter

A diet, and a budget, might change our actions but it doesn’t change our hearts and therefore our lives. We have to eat to live, just like we have to spend money for food and shelter to survive. Not only is there a balance to find, but there is also a satisfaction level that without it we give up. This is the factor not easily explained by science, nor can psychology fully prescribe the formula for each person.

I’m exploring the reasons that I reach for that piece of cake when I see it. It’s not because I’m hungry.

Over the last couple of years, there were a number of people who lost their sense of taste for quite some time after being sick. I asked a few of my friends if they found it to be a great opportunity to eat only healthy stuff. I was surprised and a little amused by their answers.

“No, it’s even worse because I was never satisfied after eating.”

“Oh, no. It’s the psychology of it. I still know what Brussel sprouts taste like. I’m not eating that stuff.”

Sometimes I wish it were a mathematical equation. Math is easier because it is a clear direction with limited outcomes. “Eat exactly this, do that, and here are the result.” That would be great, but genetics, hormones, stress, psychology, and a myriad of other things play a role. Just like some religions like to prescribe a set of rules to follow to achieve spiritual status, but it doesn’t work and it’s unfulfilling. It’s deeper than that. It’s about the heart.

It is not the rules that give us freedom. Once we have freedom the rules give us a runway to fly. Sometimes it is more than just sheer will.

Note: Ads on this site provide a small commission to 43BlueDoors. All proceeds are donated to supporting young girls rescued from human trafficking.

1 thought on “Pushing the Limits: Weight Loss Journey Part 2”

  1. Congratulations on sticking with it. Keep up the great job and sk happy you have a partner, Tina. That’s awesome. You are so right. Each person has to find what works for them. It’s an individual thing. And most importantly, changing your mindset needs to happen. Have you taken your measurements? You may be losing inches even though the scale doesn’t move as quickly. Love you!!!

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