Day one of taking the Ernieís Fitness Challenge came on Thursday when I went to Ernieís to do the initial weigh-in, which officially launched me into 60 days of healthy eating, working out and boatloads of public pressure Iím putting on myself by doing this weekly column.
I donít know why I felt apprehension about the weigh-in, since I wasnít going to look at the number and wonít weigh myself until Day 60. Maybe it was because I knew someone else would be looking at it, but then I saw the other apprehensive people around me waiting to be weighed and I realized I wasnít alone, sucked it up and got on the scale.
Whatever the number was doesnít really matter anyway because how Iím measuring ďsuccessĒ isnít how many pounds I lose; itís how fit I am, how my muscle tone is looking and how I feel. One thing I will do is take my measurements and see how working out begins to (hopefully) sculpt my body back into its athletic form. Inches are important and much more telling than pounds anyway.
I was interviewed by CBC Radio on Wednesday to talk about doing this challenge publicly. I guess they stumbled across my first column about embarking on this crazy adventure and wanted to talk to me about it. From what Iím getting, itís not every day that journalists do something like this in the public eye, but I donít really see the big deal.
Sure, I see why some might thing Iím bold or just plain nuts, but how I see it is the pressure might be that extra little boost I need to keep going to the gym and making sure I donít cave in to buying chocolate (my favourite). I did this to myself, but I did it knowing what Iím getting into.
Iíve been told that getting back in shape is 70 per cent diet, 30 per cent exercise and since thatís the case, Iím overhauling what Iíve been stuffing into my face over the past while, especially over the holidays.
Rather than do something extreme like a low-carb diet or some other fad that people jump all over in the New Year, Iím trying to eat natural, non-processed foods, like brown rice instead of white, whole wheat, super healthy bread and lots of veggies. What Iím going to do for the diet side of things is a calorie cap at 500 calories less a day than Iím supposed to intake. In the scheme of things thatís not extreme, and for my size Iím supposed to have a lot of calories.
To help with this, Iím going to use a free phone app and website called My Fitness Pal. You put in what you weigh, and what your fitness goal is, and it will set you a healthy, non-extreme calorie cap. Itís actually amazing because you can look up any food in its database. Say if you eat an apple at lunch, you look it up, find apple, and add it to Ďlunchí in your daily journal. Thatíll be 90 calories and then it will subtract that from your calorie limit and you do that throughout the day to ensure you donít overeat. It has anything you can think of eating, even Tim Hortonís sandwiches and coffee and itís interesting to see how many calories are actually in the foods we consume. Youíd be blown away by some pasta dishes, for the record.
Another great thing about My Fitness Pal is it tells you to drink eight glasses of water a day at least, and when you exercise and do 30 minutes of cardio, you can look that up in its database too and it will add calories youíve burned back onto your limit for that day so that you donít under-eat. Itís incredible and extremely helpful for those combining diet and exercise and you can take it with you anywhere on your cell phone.
So exercise, drinking lots of water, eating natural foods and decreasing my calorie limit by 500 is basically what Iím going to be doing over the next two months. Another big thing Iím cutting out (which is the worst) is beer. If I do want to have a drink at Eganís or wherever, Iím going to try to have wine, which is better for you and has fewer calories. Alcohol in general should be avoided, but I know Iíll want to have a drink with friends once in a while and Iím not a nun.
Oh, and cheat days Ė†you have to give yourself a cheat day. Pick a day, like Sunday, and treat yourself to something you love. Fitness trainers swear by these, and say that cheat days actually keep people on track because it gives you something to look forward to at the end of the week and is a bit of a reward for all your hard work.
So, without further ado, here goes nothing. By next Fridayís column I should be nice and grumpy, so youíll get a rather entertaining piece of writing, Iím sure, with all the confessions that go with trying to meet fitness goals.