Fitness Encouragement Needed

DanielQ432

Registrant
I admit- 2020-2021 have been an absolute disaster for my physical health. I was really freaked out about Covid, and I completely stopped any kind of exercise. A year ago, I felt like even the recreational path system and sidewalks here in suburbia were just giant clouds of viruses. I wore a mask to go to my mailbox and sprayed or heated or UVC chambered the mail … that sort of fear. Gyms were closed, but I didn’t even go to the grocery store or pharmacy, so I was NOT going to a gym.

This after about a year of pretty serious dereliction anyway, skipping exercise a lot, eating a lot more junk than previously, yo-yo in the weight department.

So mostly I stayed in the house for the past 16 months, ate junk food (after spraying down the groceries once Shipt delivered them) and watched a lot of Prime, Netflix, and Hulu to ramp down the fear and boredom. Every existing episode of Dr Who in order from ‘An Earthly Child’ (original air date 11/23/1963) to ‘Revolution of the Daleks’ (01/01/2021). Stuff like that.

50 lbs heavier and about 6 inches in the waist. I physically saw a doctor for the first time since Jan 2020, and I’m now borderline diabetic with super high BP of 180/100. Yowza.

I know it doesn’t have to be this way. I did great for a lot of years, controlled my weight, got a lot of exercise. And at the time, I loved it. I want to get that feeling back. Maybe more of a mindset. But I’m not sure how. Honestly I would still much rather eat a bag of Cheetos than a broccoli anything, and I’d rather lay around and binge-watch stuff on Prime than go out and do anything physical.

So how do I reignite the spark I once had for fitness?
 
So how do I reignite the spark I once had for fitness?
It can be hard to workout regularly, comfort is easy to get these days.

Here are some exercise motivating/mindset ideas that work for me:

I got back in to competing in a sport I started in as a kid. Lots of men love to play their favorite childhood sports in neighborhood leagues.

I think anyone trying to learn new skills for a passionate sport with "50 lbs heavier and about 6 inches in the waist" will get them focused on skill building (running, jumping, throwing, falling, catching, hitting, choking, diving, etc.) rather than losing the body weight itself.

I'm down 40lbs from 2018 when I started back after 10+ years off. Keto diet helped me de-focus on food (keto has such limited regular options) and focus on nutrition and food composition (protein, carb, fat) instead. Intermittent fasting each day, 16 hour fast, 8 hour eat window helped me stop counting calories.

Now that I'm at a good competition weight (lighter for less joint stress), I eat normally. Keto was only good for 3 months at a time, got sick of it. Even then, on Sundays I allowed myself to eat whatever carbs I wanted if the prior 6 days were limited to 35g of carbs each day.

I exercise now to compete, and to feel good after each workout (it's my anti-depressant). Just a few hours of post workout endorphin bliss is nice each day. In the beginning in 2018, I didn't focus on my weight or size, as the first 6 months my weight stayed flat as I got leaner/smaller due to muscle replacing fat while exercising every day (I can be fanatic about any endeavor, not just exercise).

Daniel, yes, please get out there and enjoy moving your body! Find something fun! But please, do this in moderation with a slow start based on your self-described sedentary status. Watch for your body to send complaints to stop for the day. Injuries happen faster and healing happens slower post 50.

You got this!
 

DanielQ432

Registrant
Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to play or participate in any sports at all as a kid, I/we were really isolated and controlled- a pattern that happens in a lot of domestic violence situations. I literally never was allowed to do anything that wasn’t mandatory- if he could have gotten away with keeping me home from school he would have.

The thing I enjoyed most outside of the gym was cycling, and I’m over the fear of outdoor open public spaces, for now, so I should just focus on that to start. And go back to what worked to keep my weight low, which was lower carbs but not a true keto diet, and logging and tracking in MyFitnessPal.
 

Dan99

Registrant
I'd just start slow. If there's anything good about being really out of shape it's that it doesn't take much to start seeing improvement.

I was doing 12 hours a day at a desk through much of COVID before I changed jobs last fall. I'd added about 20 pounds over two years. Now I walk where I can, try to get a daily 10000 steps, trim back on eating here and there. Already lost 15.

Just little bits here and there will start putting you back in shape. And most of all, be kind to yourself. This was a lot of shit we all went through.
 

DanielQ432

Registrant
This was a lot of shit we all went through.

First, congratulations on getting yourself back on track.

Covid has been such a weird experience. I was never social, always isolated and solitary anyway, so that aspect of it was not much different for me. Losing my job was stressful because of how my former employer turned out to be an employment tax cheat, and I literally waited almost 6 months without any cash flow while the overwhelmed state unemployment agency did their investigation. Fortunately I had all of my relevant payroll records. I knew it was a shit job but stuck with it all those years, and his kind of abusive comments about things like my PTSD diagnosis, because I avoid everything and take the path of least resistance.

The other thing I do is believe I am undeserving of any kind of success or happiness, believe I’m not capable or competent or smart enough- all of those lingering effects of growing up with an abusive father.

Little steps - I know it helps. I just placed a Shipt grocery order for all of the healthy things I ate when I was in my best place nutritional-wise. Mostly fresh produce, a couple of low-carb substitutes for bread and pasta, and some healthy fats and proteins.

Later I’ll get my bike out and make sure it’s ready to ride, I did ride it once this year a few miles, after my 2nd Moderna. So should be ok, I’ll try and ride tonight or tomorrow morning weather permitting for a few miles. I used to ride a lot, but almost exclusively later in the evenings or early mornings - I live in congested suburbs and traffic is heavy here, I don’t feel safe riding during heavy traffic times.
 
You describe well my initial experience with COVID... much time alone and occasional binges with food, alcohol and porn... none of it good for me, though I used those episodes to release shame I'd so often experienced with acting out behavior. I don't know whether I gained 25 or 30 pounds because the scale has never been my friend. It was funny walking on trails with others wearing masks, typically stepping off the trail to let someone else pass. In the beginning I'd count to 30 to allow whatever remained of their exhalations to dissipate.

Starting slow is the only way when we're out of shape. Now as I approach my 80th birthday I also accept the fact I can't realistically do what I did when I was younger. I did a three mile hike yesterday with temperatures around 95 degrees. I was in a nearby watershed and it was a workout. I gave a casual acquaintance who works at a nearby stable I pass on the way to the trail a box of cookies the woman who cut my hair the day before had given me. My diet is cleaned up and weight is slowly departing, which is good. The bottle of whisky I bought three weeks ago is still in the cabinet unopened. I have a sense it will never be opened... I haven't had anything to drink in a few months. And all of that is about self-care... a confirmation that I am WORTH caring for.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Go for it Daniel. The past is the past and today is what we make of it...
 
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I live in congested suburbs and traffic is heavy here, I don’t feel safe riding during heavy traffic times
Please be safe, Daniel. Many bicyclists ride where I live, some are very bold and stopped looking at cars while in the bike lanes, but they do this with nothing but painted stripes on the road surface to protect them from distracted texting drivers.

Once I got on my mend-the-years-of-self-abuse diet, it been easy to stay on it. Unlike @Visitor's will power with whiskey, I can't keep alcohol around the house without opening it. I never get drunk, but even 2 or 3 drinks in a night messes up my training routine at the gym for the next day. I don't even buy alcohol much anymore as my tactic for self-care, and when I do buy some, I limit myself considerably compared to younger me. I tell myself "alcohol is a toxic sugar, muscles run on sugar, why would I feed my muscles toxic energy?"

And all of that is about self-care... a confirmation that I am WORTH caring for.
@Visitor I commend you for once again reminding us all of mindsets we all can benefit from, physically and mentally.
 

DanielQ432

Registrant
Thank you all. A really big addiction for me is candy, cookies, and sweetened starchy foods like sugar-coated breakfast cereals or the kinds of granola bars that are so far removed from anything healthy that essentially they are just candy. So I’ve dumped a bunch of that stuff in the trash.
 
I've long been a member of Overeaters Anonymous and the one addiction most folks in that fellowship agree on is that SUGAR is a killer, in whatever form it takes. That was one reason I gave away those cookies. The old adage is "one is too many and a million not enough..." My guess is you know the truth of that. It is far better to simply get such things out of your diet AND out of your home... which I've done. I do use a small amount of maple syrup with my steel cut oatmeal in the morning then use stevia in my tea. Take good care of yourself. We know that trauma survivors will use many things to escape the moment and food ranks right up there with alcohol and porn.
 
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There are two strategies for using food... compulsive eating and compulsive restricting. The first strategy doesn't generally involve fixation on how we look... though there will likely be shame about being fat. Those who restrict are fixated on their bodies and no matter how thin they become they still see themselves as fat and restrict even more. Food is a powerful weapon in the battle to avoid the residue of trauma we carry. One of the great criticisms of 12 Step programs is they focus on the acting out behavior and ignore the elephant in the room... trauma. That is why so many people play what is called "whack-a-mole..." one so-called addiction ends and another pops up. But there are dozens of programs so we will always get support in stopping acting out behavior. The trauma is still waiting to be attended to... which is what we're all doing here.
 

Guss

Registrant
I've lost 17 lbs. of what I gained during covid and have 8 more to go. I know you can do it. Finding things to occupy your mind may give you some relief.
You've taken the biggest step, and I believe you can do it.
 
There are two strategies for using food... compulsive eating and compulsive restricting. The first strategy doesn't generally involve fixation on how we look... though there will likely be shame about being fat. Those who restrict are fixated on their bodies and no matter how thin they become they still see themselves as fat and restrict even more. Food is a powerful weapon in the battle to avoid the residue of trauma we carry. One of the great criticisms of 12 Step programs is they focus on the acting out behavior and ignore the elephant in the room... trauma. That is why so many people play what is called "whack-a-mole..." one so-called addiction ends and another pops up. But there are dozens of programs so we will always get support in stopping acting out behavior. The trauma is still waiting to be attended to... which is what we're all doing here.
That is a deep insight about 12-steps being trauma averse.

Did you mean to say "There are two strategies for abusing food..." ?

I've heard it said that many CSA victims are food addicts because it was the only "safe" time around their home for them (i.e. no one was going to force their way on a child eating dinner in front of family). As a result, many CSA victims grow up with a deep emotional connection to eating, not to food itself. Sugar addictions happen too with time, regardless of trauma.

As a parent, I try very hard avoid creating any kinds of emotional connections between my offspring and eating. In my household, food is not restricted, never has been, but consumption is still casually paid attention to. There are rules around when food is consumed, meals are ready when asked, and if any overeating patterns develop, I have a talk with the kid about what's going on. Sometimes, hunger meets favorite food and consumption goes up a bit for one meal, not an issue. We eat when hungry, we don't soothe with food, not allowed in my house.

I'm tall, and neither over restrictive at 240+ lbs, and not overeating with a 38" waist.

I've heard there are two types of eaters: Those who live to eat, and those that eat to live. I'm definitely the latter. I someone how equated healthy body with healthy mind. And I need all the mind health I can muster. CSA is awful.
 
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When we get older it is easier to access alcohol... olders still and it becomes drugs. Food is really the first thing readily available to a child so using it to self-soothe is easy. I imagine in the era of cell phones pornography will become available at an ever earlier age. I've no idea what my life would have been like had I had access to porn as an adolescent or young teen. I don't think it would have helped anything.

A friend in OA uses a line in introducing herself... not saying "I'm a compulsive overeater" but rather "I'm changing my relationship with food." Having shared a meal with her on a couple of occasions I'm not sure what she has in mind but I like the line. It seems D42 that this is what you're doing for yourself and with your family. It is certainly what I'm doing to the best of my ability. I'm actually not having difficulty with food at the moment, am not drinking and have no interest in porn or sexual acting out. Healing remains a priority, so chatting here with kindred spirits like yourself is where I'm at right now. That little boy definitely needs me.
 

DanielQ432

Registrant
I definitely and absolutely use food as a drug, comfort and numbing. The way my household really functioned as a child would have shocked everyone if they had known the truth. Everything was hidden behind a “perfect home” facade in a way. I always think about how isolated we were from outsiders, but we weren’t isolated from people, mostly men and couples, from his work environment. For all his psychiatric problems, abusive nature, etc., he was able to actually have a good career. And with that came social obligations. My mother couldn’t control a lot about her life because of him, but she controlled the household environment. He accepted and reinforced that with extreme sexism - he wouldn’t ever do something as simple as pour his own cup of coffee, that was “woman’s work.”

Since my mother had control over the house, it was her outlet, and she was this early Martha Stewart clone. Cooking was one area of her expression, and every day and every meal was all kinds of whatever, all hand made, even harder things like puff pastry or croissants. So not only was there a ton of food around, I think she also used it to comfort, reward or quiet me. Little wonder I’ve always struggled with my weight, up and down my entire life. Up again now, alas.
 
A woman I've gotten to know through a 12 Step meeting that focuses on childhood trauma was trafficked as a child. I believe she reached around five hundred pounds, of which she's lost close to 200. She started a non-profit to help kids who'd been trafficked... 700 over the last few years have come through the program. Last week one of the girls with a horrible history came into her office and said... "I think I have a problem with food."

Absolutely, food can be used to take us away from what we're feeling. Every person whom I know well in Overeaters Anonymous has a trauma story to tell. And over the two and a half years I've been active in this community its come up over and over again that men struggle with their weight. What better way to insulate and isolate yourself that to make yourself physically unattractive. When I was seven years old, the year I was raped I was a skinny kid. By the time I was nine I was pudgy. When I first remembered the trauma I began gaining weight and over a few years added about seventy pounds that took years to release. This last year when COVID arrived and my usual ways of engaging with people ended I began eating. I probably gained 30 pounds. Of course, this is also a time when I'm unpacking my own trauma and it has been very destabilizing. Food, porn and alcohol returned to the scene of the crime and they contributed to weight gain. I haven't been doing those things for months and some of the weight is disappearing... but that is because I've found a healthier way of dealing with difficult feelings. This is my healing journey. I know I'm not alone...
 
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Me&Me

Registrant
today do one press up, one sit up, one squat, tomorrow do 2, the day after do three, the day after that 4. If that's to strenuous, do 1 of each three days this week, then two of each three days next week, three of each the week after etc. That should get the wheels turning
 

BDD

Registrant
@DanielQ432 You asked how to reignite the flame. Can I suggest you not look for a passion or drive, just a simple promise to yourself. Commit to devoting a certain time of day for your fitness goals. No matter how you feel, or what comes up, defend that time. Even if you are tired as hell, "show up" and just start. It doesn't need to be with vigor, build the constancy to your commitment.
 
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