I used to keep in shape — until my son Julian was born three years ago. I quickly found it impossible to schedule serious exercise into my life while raising an infant, being a husband and working as a marketing executive at a tech start-up. For three years, I’ve averaged six hours of sleep per night (or less), the bare minimum, and a recipe for weight gain and heart problems. Then Celeste was born, and that made exercise matters worse. My only salvation (and barely) has been my daily speed walks between our home and the commuter train station — about a mile each way. A few months ago I felt I hit a low point — both mentally and on the pudginess scale. That was reinforced when my doctor suggested it wouldn’t hurt to lose 10 pounds.
So is my new-year resolution to go on a diet? No.Â New-year resolutions are declarations for failure, so I kickstarted my new health plan the day before last Thanksgiving. I love food and didn’t want to hold back too much for the holidays, nor did I want to feel gross and sorry for myself.
My New Health Plan
- Three full-body workouts per week at the gym, with an emphasis on conditioning and cardio, not bruit-force muscle building. To make this a reality, I joined the gym at the New York Athletic Club.
- Complete 30-60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise on alternate days, when I’m not doing full body workouts.
- Eat four to five mini meals during the day, and a light snack in the early evening. (I’ve been stuffing an ugly canvas bag full of different munchies for the office.)
- Get at least seven, preferably eight, hours of sleep per night, no less.
- Stick with it for life.
Results and Observations So Far
- With fat burning and muscle building, actual weight loss takes some time for me. Therefore, I focus more on my physique and energy levels.
- It’s been thirty days, and I’ve lost a full belt size, and I suspect I’ll lose another notch within another 30 days.
- My appetite and energy levels have skyrocketed.
- I’m mentally healthier, or least I feel that way.
- People have commented that I look better.
Sacrifice & Scheduling
Adopting a health plan like this requires discipline and sacrifice — and a lot of scheduling savvy. I can motivate myself to do anything, but the tricky part is scheduling and prioritizing time with parent and work responsibilities. While I tend to do work and answer email until midnight or 1AM, I’ve been stopping hard at 10:00 PM, so I can get some rest and be at the gym by 5:59 AM. I get home from the gym by 7:15 AM, so Laura and I can get ourselves and the kids dressed and fed by 8:00 AM. Then it’s off to the office. With half my colleagues in India (9.5 hours ahead), it’s easy for meetings to be scheduled very early in the morning or late at night. Therefore, I’ve blocked off times on my work calendar to leave room for exercise and sleep.
With two toddlers and a busy start-up, my system doesn’t always work. But it does most of the time. It’s forcing me to be even more selective with my time. Meanwhile, the added time pressure and heightened mental acuity seem to make me more efficient and effective. I suppose the worst outcome is that I feel better and live longer.
I’ll provide an update in another 30 days.