I debated about writing this lesson, but in the interest of documenting my journey I think it is worth sharing what I learned last year about health and physical appearance.
By “best shape” I don’t mean my ability to run fast or long distances or by the amount of weight I can bench press or anything like that. This is based solely on how I look and feel. I lost a little more than 5 pounds last year. At the beginning of 2017 I accidentally purchased khaki pants that were a size too small. I hate shopping so the pants stayed in my closet for months. Then, half way through the year, they became the only pants that fit anymore. I had to move to another rung on my belt.
All of this happened unintentionally, which is why I am hesitant to write about it. I was already in decent shape. I didn’t need to lose any weight, yet I did and here is how it happened:
1. I stopped sitting at a desk all day.
In March 2017 I transitioned to a part-time role at my office job. I spent only two days a week sitting at a cubicle desk all day. The other days I spent half of the day as a dad with a baby and the other half at my home office working. We all have to admit that the human body was not designed to sit in a chair for 8-10 hours every day.
2. I carried around a 10-20 pound baby.
Babies get heavy! As a stay-at-home-dad, I spent a lot of time lifting and carrying the baby around the house and while we were out running errands. This is like lifting weights all day!
3. I gave up sugar.
I gave up sugar for Lent. When we got close to Easter, a friend asked if I was going to give up sugar for good. I had not thought of that. I wasn’t giving it up for any other reason than I thought it would be difficult. To give up something for Lent for ulterior motives, like losing weight, is missing the point of a Lenten sacrifice. But, I did lose weight and my clothes stopped fitting.
It is amazing what sugar does to our bodies. After Lent was over I stayed away from sugar as much as possible, not because of the weight but because of how it made me feel. I was a lot less tired when I wasn’t eating sugar. I was much more productive.
What is the hardest part about giving up sugar? Well, two things:
- Companies put sugar in almost everything, which is disgusting and makes it hard to avoid.
- You have to tell yourself it is okay to waste food whether it is leftover birthday cake or that Halloween candy that your kids don’t like.
4. I did pull-ups almost every day.
I have had a pull-up bar for years but barely used it. It is one of those Iron Gym bars you attach to the top of a doorway. When I started working from home, I started doing pull-ups for short breaks to warm up (my office is in the basement) and get my blood flowing. At first I could only do a few pull-ups at a time. Eventually, however, I was doing reps of 10, 15, or 20. I didn’t have a workout plan. I just made sure to do them frequently throughout the day. Pull-ups work way more muscles than you would expect and I’m sure this had a lot to do with me getting in shape.
5. I continued to do daily push-ups and sit-ups.
I do push-ups and sit-ups before bed every night and I’ve been doing that for years. This didn’t change from previous years, but it is worth mentioning.
I got in great shape because of lifestyle choices and habits not massive workout plans. I don’t know if that helps anyone else. Not everyone can leave their 9-5 office jobs, but I think the standing desk phenomenon makes a lot of sense. Honestly, just giving up sugar and adding pull-ups to a daily routine is probably the 20% of the changes that led to 80% of the reason I got into great of shape.