tw: diet and exercise, 100 days challenge, pandemic weight gain / loss

Hey, folks. So yesterday, in addition to finishing my novel revision, I finished a 100-days exercise challenge. That makes it sound like a real thing, but it’s nothing formal — I have a FB fitness group that I host (Olympians), just anyone who wants to join us (you’re invited), and for 100 days, I tried to post what I was doing for exercise that day, and others chimed in too, and we ‘liked’ each others’ efforts. Just accountability, and no policy on what you did for exercise — that was entirely up to you.

I asked, and people found it useful, and I definitely did too, so I’m going to start another 100 days today. I wanted to talk a little about how, specifically, it was useful for me.

I started it in May, because after a few months of pandemic shelter-in-place, my clothes had started getting tight. My eating habits hadn’t changed much (a little more consolatory ice cream), but I was getting much less daily routine activity, and the results were very visible on my 5’0″ body.

During the 100 days, my activity levels varied. There were a a few rest days that were intentional, when I’d been very active for a day or two beforehand, and my body was tired and felt like it needed a rest. There were several days that I just missed due to I-don’t-wanna (and thankfully, the group is pretty tolerant of me forgetting to post the morning note, although I think I’m going to try to get 1-2 people to take responsibility for that with me this time around).

Most days, I did a minimal amount of additional exercise — I rarely exerted myself much, so it was just a matter of doing SOMETHING rather than nothing. Typically that was ONE of the following:

• 20-30 minutes on the treadmill, walking at 3.0
• 20-25 minute morning exercise walk with Anand, listening to Zombies, Run!
• 20-30 minutes playing Supernatural in VR, on low, medium, or very rarely, high intensity
• 20-30 minutes swimming laps or playing in the pool with the kids

I started wearing my Fitbit partway through the summer, and even with that extra exercise, I almost never hit 10,000 steps over the course of the day. Pre-pandemic, I hit that routinely before dinnertime. So that tells me that even with this deliberate additional exercise, I’m mostly still not getting as much activity as I did before shelter-in-place, which isn’t really surprising, since I used to do things like walk to the train, walk around campus, etc., rather than sitting in my writing shed for hours and hours on end.

I weigh myself every morning (I know that’s not a good option for some people’s mental health, and I’m not advocating it necessarily). For me, stepping on the Aria scale (which wirelessly syncs in to Fitbit) is an easy way to track without thinking about it very much. I can check the charts online when I feel like it, but also mostly ignore it. I also measured with a tape measure, which I rarely do — hips and waist and bust and upper arm.

May 6, start of 100 days: 148.7 pounds. 43″ bust, 40″ waist, 40″ hips, 16″ arm
Aug 14: 146.1 pounds: 41″ bust, 38″ waist, 38″ hips, 14″ arm

As you can see, I didn’t lose a lot of weight, 2.5 pounds. I’m still not back to my pre-pandemic weight of 144 pounds. But I was a little surprised to see just how even the measurement change was — 2″ reduced in each measurement.

Which means that my clothes are now back to fitting me the way they did before I started the challenge (or are even a little looser), which was one of my basic goals for the summer — to halt the weight gain trend of early pandemic, get into better shape overall (my energy levels are definitely up now, compared to 100 days ago), and frankly, look a little thinner on camera, now that pandemic-land has me doing so much more virtual teaching. I fit into my anniversary party dress again, which I couldn’t, three months ago.

This is all minor in the grand scheme of things. When the world is on fire, maybe worrying about your fitness level isn’t really that important. But when the world is on fire, I find that I need to take additional care of my mental health. For me, being in better physical shape really, dramatically helps with that. My body feels better, I can work more productively, I can think more clearly, I’m not getting mad at myself because I dislike the way I look on camera or how my bras fit, etc. and so on.

So, starting another challenge today. I think I’m going to be a little more intentional about what I do, up the activity level a little, and aim for exercise twice a day, instead of just once. I’m thinking a morning walk (either on the treadmill or with Anand), and then afternoon either Supernatural or swimming (as long as the weather holds). I’m also tempted to start lifting again, although a little nervous too, because it’s easy for me to overdo, and then I’m sore and exhausted the next day, and that starts interfering with work. But maybe if I take it really really slow.

Anyway. Hope this is helpful, or at least vaguely interesting. I spent a few hours yesterday taking in a bunch of clothes that were too loose for me, which was a nice way to mark the end of a fitness challenge. Onwards, and as I said, feel free to join us. It’s nice to have supportive company on the journey, cheering you on.

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