Tag Archives: MyFitnessJourney

My Fitness Journey – Day 8 (Friday, 08 January 2016)

So today continued another poor day of diet choices, even if I decided to blast away at my exercise choices.

If yesterday was a serious of unfortunate events, Day 5 was all about bad decisions for which I can only blame myself, learn from it, and move on.


In terms of exercise, almost as soon as I arrived back from the airport to my house, I headed right towards the gym to get in a cardio workout. Today should have been a weights workout, but the gym and the weights section are so crowded that I wouldn’t have been able to work out according to my strength training plan. So I decided to move the weights to tomorrow and blast in a cardio session on the elliptical trainer. I find it hard to get bored on the elliptical, so long as I have my music, I am good. Because I can see strides per minute, calories per minute, have various workout settings, and other data, I tend to break down the hour into what must be achieved in 5 minute blocks, or every 100 calories, etc, etc. I find ways to keep it interesting. The other thing I am finding which is cool is that at the end of the exercise, my Fitbit Charge HR and the numbers on the machines (calories, heart rate, etc), are within 5-10% of each other (and both methods switch between providing the highest/lowest numbers). So I go with my FitBit since it is continuously monitoring me.


Again, not a day to be overly proud of myself, especially at breakfast. I just made poor choices. It was entirely possible to have a South Beach Phase 1 breakfast, but I felt like I was starving. Beyond starving. I felt I wanted – and deserved – the things I was avoiding. I saw myself making bad choices and feeling awful about it, but not awful enough to stop. To be transparent, here is the damage I did to myself:


  • Omelette with ham, onions, tomatoes, truffle mushrooms, peppers. They probably used 4 eggs whereas I would only have used two. I am pretty sure that they probably used milk in the omelette as well.
  • Waffle (Scandinavian) with jam and powdered sugar, but I removed the jam and most of the powdered sugar
  • Orange juice – one glass of it

So let’s face the facts, I completely fucked up breakfast. I was hungry and I let myself down by giving into cravings. Lunch was only slightly better in my view…


  • I had a bowl of tandori chicken soup and a salad (only lettuce and tomato). I grabbed it from the SAS lounge because it was all I had time to get in between phone calls and waiting for my flight.

Whether the soup was a better choice than the reindeer meatballs they had on offer I don’t know. I looked for some nutritional information, but did not find any. In the end, I decided that the soup would be better than the meatballs.


  • “Entree” (post-workout snack whilst preparing dinner) – ½ an avocado, 15 cashews, a stalk of celery
  • “Main course” – Baked salmon and (leftover) oven roasted vegetables


So foodwise I feel like it was another mixed day. I am hoping that deciding the put in a really aggressive session on the elliptical trainer will blunt some of the damage, but I don’t know. I will make sure the weekend is what it is supposed to be. And I will have to extend Phase 1 for a day or so.

My Fitness Journey – Day 7 (Thursday, 07 January 2016)

Today was my first travel day whilst on the diet and exercise. I did the right thing and I bought my exercise gear with me. I was determined to stick to exercising 5-7 times a week this week.

But to be honest, this day could not have gone more wrong, in terms of exercise and diet.


In terms of exercise, I decided that since I had an early flight, to take my workout clothes with me and exercise at the hotel gym. The website said that the gym had an elliptical trainer, but when got there, they had this funky sort of “wave machine”. I think had I not torn my meniscus and had surgery and rehab, that it would have been a decent machine. But as it was, the “wave” motion really bothered by knee so I had to stop.

Wave elliptical machine. Not good for those with a torn meniscus…

Luckily there was an exercise bike and a treadmill, so I found my way to get cardio in. It just took longer than I had planned. And time was not on my side on Thursday.


In terms of diet, it was a pretty bad day as well.


  • I didn’t have time to eat a real breakfast and getting to the airport on time turned out to be stressful due to unusual traffic, so I managed to get by on a vitamin water, a stick of celery, and several cups of coffee.


By the time I arrived at my destination and was ready for lunch, all of the healthy salads were sold out, so I ate what was the healthiest option left in the cafeteria:

  • meatballs in gravy (they were cooked in the gravy, so I tried to move as much as possible), along with some lettuce and tomato that I the kitchen hadn’t taken back in.
  • It was delicious, but it actually felt really bad. So I didn’t eat much.


Then because of the fact that I worked late, exercised, and misread the hotel’s restaurant hours (they were open until 23:00/11pm, but the kitchen closed at 22:00/10pm), I ended up eating

  • a cold chicken caesar salad (with almost no chicken in it)
  • ham and cheese sandwich – although I removed the bread. It really just left me starving and under-nourished.
  • Two small glasses of wine (I met a friend in Helsinki whom I hadn’t seen in awhile and he had some great news to share, and I allowed myself to give in and had a couple of celebratory glasses of wine)


Now, I know compared to what is happening around me in the world, it’s tempting to say “what a first world luxury”. But for better or for worse, I have exercise and diet goals, and none of the above was helping to achieving those. Combined with a stressful day at work, I felt awful. I am expecting to gain 0.5kg back because of this. It feels awful 🙁

My Fitness Journey – Day 6 (Wednesday, 06 January 2016)

So another day, another entry. In some ways I am a bit lucky this week because it is a short work week which means I have had more opportunity to go to the gym. I also get to cook more which is a good thing.

Today was a super stressful day at work, and for awhile I had a craving for something sweet or a glass of wine. But I managed to work through those cravings. I have also had a bit of a head cold for the past 2 days, but I haven’t slowed my workout or changed my eating habits.

In terms of exercise today I did:

  • Absolution – a 30 minute online offering from my gym. Good thing I did that at home….I did really poorly and it showed a clear need to work on my core.
  • Body pump – a great session, even if it embarassingly reminded me that I have essentially lost all of the arm strength I gained in the summer.

In terms of food I ate:


  • Omlette with asparagus and mushroom, a glass of tomato juice, and coffee.


  • Chicken Capri (the last one), oven roasted veggies, and South Beach mashed ‘potatoes ‘ (leftovers)


  • 4 South Beach turkey roll ups, half an avocado, and lime jello. Note here that I am not particularly proud of my dinner today. The stress of work today was exhausting so I slept during the early evening hours (6pm-10pm) and I wanted to give my body some type of quick fuel.

Another thing I will mention here. I have a FitBit Aria wireless scale. I weigh myself every 1-2 days. One of the measurements I like is the Lean vs Fat measurement, which attempts to show you how much of your weight is muscle vs fat. My percentages have gotten worse Sunday. I think it is a bit too early to be concerned, but if the percentage of muscle keeps on dropping compared to fat, then I have to re-think how I eat. I am assuming this is happening because of Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet.

Finally, some ‘good’ news today from a food perspective. By chance I googled “South Beach Diet Updates” and was happy to find out that they added milk, yoghurt, and tomatoes to Phase 1 (my book was one of the first editions back in 2003). In a previous journal entry I said how much I would miss milk in Phase 1. Now I don’t have to 🙂 And tomatoes in any quantity means better soups and salads. I am a happy guy 🙂

My Fitness Journey – Day 4 (Tuesday, 04 January 2016)

So now I am on my fourth day of my fitness journey. Was a good day overall. In terms of exercise, I managed to get in 20 minutes on the elliptical trainer, and the second spinning class (60 minutes) for the week.

In terms of food:


  • Scrambled eggs
  • Turkey bacon
  • Vegetable Juice


  • Chicken capri (leftovers)
  • Cucumber and Mushroom salad


  • Bolivian spiced porkchops
  • South Beach Mashed “Potatoes”
  • Oven roasted veggies
  • Lime Jello (sugar free)


  • Laughing cow cheese and some celery (although it isn’t right to call this a snack, I ate it as soon as I got back from the gym because I was starving and food prep and cooking for dinner took 45 minutes).


Today I felt much less hungry. Or should I say that I felt full on eating less. However, because I am doing cardio and not strength training, I feel okay to come in significantly under my calorie budget. On the days that I do weight training, I will strive to come within 500 calories of my goal. But again, not going crazy with the counting.

I did notice that some work-related stress had me craving something “sweet” like some chocolate or something like that. It was the first time I realised that I potentially stress-eat and if it is true, I need to find other ways to deal with it.

My Fitness Journey – Day 4 (Monday, 04 January 2016)

Today’s the day! I stepped on the scale on 01 January and that started the clock.

Today is the first day that I am actually doing something about it! And I have to say that it felt good.

In terms of food:

  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs and a glass of tomato juice
  • Lunch: Chopped tuna salad and a lime dressing
  • Dinner: Chicken Capri and a salad
  • Snacks: Some celery and a wedge of cheese (South Beach Diet makes a big deal about Laughing Cow Cheese. We don’t have the “light” variety in Sweden so I just bought the full-fat version…a 20kcal difference for those that are interested)

So eating wasn’t all that bad actually. What I feel the most is the absence of fruit and milk. As someone who ate fruit almost every day, it feels different to not eat any. With regards to milk, I am used to having lattes (coffee or chai tea), whereas now I am drinking coffee and tea just black with no sugar or sugar substitute. That is strange as well, but I remember reading somewhere an advert that encouraged us to occasionally drink coffee as it was originally designed, before we added milk, cream, cinnamon, pumpkin spice, etc, etc. And with Nespresso, there are flavoured coffee caspules if I absolutely need it.

I did feel a bit hungry towards the end of the night, but nothing that water and tea couldn’t fix (I suspect this was more because of the workout than anything else). I was determined to be finished eating by 21:00 (9pm). Even if I am not following Intermittent Fasting just now, there is something to be said about not snacking right up till bedtime.

In terms of exercise:

  • 15 minutes on the elliptical
  • One hour spinning class

I get it, that this exercise isn’t muscle-building, and I know that I have to add that in, so my plan is to focus on that tomorrow. I know I need both to reach my goal. In fact, spinning is one of my favourite activities and the exercise I most often do (I checked the stats with my gym’s fitness app), so for me it will also be about diversification if I want to make the difference. Especially since I am a bit concerned that my body might be used to the effort I put into spinning class already…we’ll see.

I achieved my exercise goals, and I was way under my calorie limit (the more I read the more I realise this is not necessarily a good thing…I need to be mindful of this).

My Fitness Journey – Day 3 (Sunday, 03 January 2016)

For some reason, I am equal parts nervous and excited to begin tomorrow.

I am nervous to begin tomorrow because this looks and feels like a new year’s resolution that millions of people make to “get healthy” or “get in shape”. I am fairly nervous that if I am not careful, I will allow myself to think like most people thing. That somewhere in March I will declare that I have done “good enough” and leave it at that. Or that I will let other things get in the way. I am also nervous that my schedule does call for a bit of travel, and that it will be difficult to make healthy choices all of the time. I am nervous that if I don’t see the drastic, jaw-dropping results I experienced about 14 years ago that I will get discouraged (so I have to remind myself that people change and bodies age, so that past performance is no guarantee of future results).

On the other hand, I am excited that I have become this serious about taking control of my health again. This time around, I have much more control over my schedule (my previous job was travelling around 300 days a year). This time around, I have a much better knowledge about foods (I can follow recipes like anyone else can, but I also know how to make substitutions that will still accomplish the goal and taste good). My palette has increased, so I appreciate a wider range of flavours now than I did back then. And I am more consistently exercising now than I have been back then – the challenge will be to get more out of the time spent.

And most importantly, I decided that I can spend 30 minutes a day to write in this blog. I think the process of writing is healthy and helpful, so I can review what was done. I will commit to keeping a food journal everyday (Martin Berkhan in his LeanGains blog made a great point that someone at my stage of the journey needs to be more concerned about a food journal to see how I am fueling myself. That is true even if I am not doing Intermittent Fasting at this point).

So I started last day before  jumped into everything pretty much as you might expect. I crammed everything in that I could before starting on the South Beach Diet:

  • The remaining cookies that a friend gave me for Christmas? Nom nom nom.
  • The fruitcake that a friend’s mother gave me on New Year’s Eve? Nom nom nom.
  • The 330ml of Sprite left in the bottle? Nom nom nom.
  • Fried duck in sweet and sour sauce from my favourite Vietnamese restaurant? Nom nom nom.
  • The remaining strawberries and half the grapes in the fridge? Nom nom nom.

Nothing like building up a little higher hurdle for yourself to work through. As I write it down, it feels a bit shameful. I am sure that there are bits and pieces I didn’t mention.

But hey, I got in at least a bit of exercise (walking), so everything should be even, right? The answer is no. I have to say, this has motivated me to dive into this head first tomorrow.

Finally, I haven’t decided how often I will post stats or what kind of stats I will post. I need to take a look through all of those different tools and see what kind of info I want to include. Including it here will also help to keep my honest.

Anyway, good luck to me tomorrow! If I can go to school full-time to get my Master’s Degree whilst working full-time, then I can use the same discipline and determination to meet this goal as well. Fingers crossed!

My Fitness Journey – The initial plan

So I decided that now is the time that I have to do something about my weight. To take back control of my health. In the previous post I gave the backstory in general overview as to why I am embarking on this journey and what the triggers were.

In this journal entry, I want to spend some time talking about the initial plan that I made and explain why I made the choices that I did. In some ways, this is as much about explaining it to myself as it is showing it to others (eventually). I am quite sure that I will have to make amendments to my plan over time, and I am okay with that. After all, journeys rarely go exactly as expected.

Overall Goal

One of the things that I had to decide before I started, was what I wanted to main goal to be. Did I want to achieve only weight loss? Do I want to get tone and definition? Do I want to bulk and and gain muscle? I don’t consider these goals to be one and the same. In my opinion, what you decide to focus on should help to dictate your diet, your eating pattern, and your exercise choices. I am not saying that they are all mutually exclusive (note: I don’t have any formal education in exercise physiology or nutrition), for there must surely be some interchange between them. I can only mention here what I think would work for me. So for me, I am focused on losing weight and getting some tone and definition. That will do me quite nicely for the beginning.

In terms of time frame, I am looking to 24-28kg in 6 months. That is roughly 1kg a week, which is very challenging. Whilst I would be thrilled with 22kg, I also want to push myself to go a bit beyond. I am under no illusion how difficult this will be.


When I had lost 50kg the first time, I went entirely by the Atkins diet, which I didn’t find to be that much of a hassle, although it did feel a little restrictive at times. Whether that was due to my own choices or the prevailing wisdom at the time, I can’t remember. But I do remember feeling great overall. I specifically remember that the Atkins diet provided a lot of counting and a lot of structure. So logic would dictate that if I want to get the same results, I should just automatically jump back into Atkins.

However, this time around, I want to give the South Beach Diet a real try. Having read the material from both books, it is clear that the initial phase is pretty much the same. However, I think the South Beach Diet allows a wider variety of foods (mostly veggies and heart-healthy foods). And more importantly, I think the South Beach Diet gets closer overall to the “clean eating concept” that I am looking to adopt longer-term.

There was also something else I decided, and that I wasn’t going to obsess over counting calories. That doesn’t mean that I decided to not count calories at all or just throw out all of the simple science. It’s accepted that you need a calorie deficit of 3500 to lose a roughly half a kilo or 1 pound (and in my case I want to strive for 1kg or 2.2 pounds a week), so I need to keep that principle in mind. What I am saying is that I don’t stress out about how much calories are in salt. If I substitute a more full-fat version of something low-fat, I am not going to beat myself up over it (besides, “light” versions of anything are tough to find in Sweden). With all of the technology I use to track things, my focus is on registering what I eat to understand patterns and make sure I get portions under control. I accept that calorie reporting will be between 0-200 calories off in any direction. So for, the focus is on eating better and I will the fact that I know that there will be some small variances to push myself a little harder during my workouts.

So with that decision make, it was time to think about eating patterns.

Eating Patterns

With eating patterns, what I mean here is how often I wanted to eat. The typical exercise guidance says that you eat three meals a day and 2-3 snacks. This is what I am used to out of habit, but when I think about, I probably really eat two meals a day and one snack. So this caused me to begin to look at intermittent fasting, and there appears to be no better authority on the topic than Martin Berkhan of LeanGains fame. Having spent a few weeks earlier in the year researching and trying out 16/8 intermittent fasting (16 hours fasting and a 8 hour feeding window), my feelings on it were mixed. But if I am to be honest, I didn’t change what I eat, I really only changed the time in which I eat it. So in 2016, it seems like it is worth another try.

I decided not to implement intermittent fasting at the same time I am starting the South Beach Diet. The reason for that was simply that I think Phase 1 of the diet, which is the most restrictive phase, isn’t the time to restrict eating when I am re-training my body to eat differently. But the decision is only temporary, as I believe that intermittent fasting is something that I should do after some time in Phase 2 of the my diet. Both because it will introduce some variation in routine and because I can’t say that I am really a breakfast person when at home (when travelling however, I very much like to have the things I won’t have at home, like bacon, pancakes, etc…I have to learn to control this).


When it comes to exercise, in the first round of weight loss, I did it mostly through running on the treadmill and aerobic exercise, with only very minimum weight training. However, as I read more of the science, and I think about the ultimate goal, this time around I am going to shift the balance. So the plan is to do 2-3 sessions of weight training and then 3-4 sessions of cardio activity. I am sure that this will change over time, but for the moment, I am not looking to bulk up and have every vein pulse out of my body. The key goal is weight loss and tone. Ultimately if I decide on so-called “bulking up”, then I can easily change the balance.

Personal Trainer

A quick word on a personal trainer. At this beginning stage, I decided against a personal trainer (rightly or wrongly…time will tell). The reason in part was one of cost. The other reason was that I wanted to experiment on my own as I find my own path. Once I lose about half of my planned weight or I begin to plateau for a couple of weeks, I am planning on getting a personal trainer to help push me through.


Being 2016, of course there are a set of tools which help along the way to get things done. So at least at this point, I have the following kit and tooling:


  • Jefit – Which is a weight training apps that has 1000s of training programmes. The app is free and the programmes I am hoping will give me a good start.
  • MyFitnessPal – At the moment, I am just using for the food tracker, which so far seems to be one of the best out there. Chances are that someone has thought of that special dish you just created. And the community around food appears to be very good.
  • Fitbit – I have a FitBit Flex and FitBit Charge HR, both of which I use for different reasons (mostly related to battery life). I also have a FitBit Aria (their wireless scale). Therefore, since I am pretty invested in FitBit, I thought it make sense to use it track what the FitBit tracks. For the moment I use it also to track exercise. Whether I stay with that remains to be seen.
  • Runkeeper – Quite frankly the best app to keep track of your run. I haven’t been running very much, but when the spring comes, I hope my knee is in good enough shape to run again.
  • 7-minute workout. It’s a pretty neat app. HIIT exercises that you can do on the go. Which helps given the amount that I travel.


  • Fitness mat – great to have at home for exercises, including aerobic exercises, yoga, and stretching
  • Running shoes – For obvious reasons
  • Cycling shoes  – Great for spinning which is one of my favourite exercises. The popular opinion is that you are 25-30% more effect when you use the shoes.


So there you have it. I think this concludes my all of introductory posts. Now that I know what I want to do, it’s time to shift my focus on making it happen. So from now on, you’ll get to see it all, the good, the bad, and everything in between 🙂 Wish me luck!

My Fitness Journey – The backstory

So here it begins, my fitness journey.

It’s a journey that I started many times before. I would make some progress, and then inevitably all of the good work that I had managed to accomplish would slide back over time. And resigned to my fate (as it were), I would console myself by saying that “at least I wasn’t the fattest person I knew.” What a strange way to feel good about my body, by use other’s external validation.

Now I should say that I haven’t done a bad job considering everything. No one remembers back in 2000 when I was 150kg (330 lbs) and hiding it kinda well due to my tall frame. Then I decided to make some drastic changes in my life, and managed to get down to 100 kg (220 lbs). I looked and felt great! I had made changes to my life. It was really in my mind all about will power and wanting to feel good inside and outside.

Then somewhere I lost my way. Eventually 100kg gave way to 110kg (“still look okay, so no worries” was my thinking). Then 110kg gave way to 120kg (“tall frame will hide it” was my thinking). Then 120kg gave way to 130kg (“I’m not the fattest person I know, and I am still in reasonable shape. I hiked Mount Kilimanjaro and made it the summit! How bad can I really be?” I thought). And then 130kg gave way to 135kg. And then something funny happened…

This Christmas (2015) I was sitting in my sister’s house on the sofa. The kids (several of them) were sitting on one end of the sofa, and my aunt was sitting on the other end. And when I went to sit down next to her, I weighed so much compared to her that she shifted towards me in the center. We spent the next 5 minutes trying to figure how we both could sit on the couch comfortably at the same time. We figured it out, but in my mind, there was a very simple answer: lose weight.

See, the signs had been there for a few months already. I managed to rip two pairs of jeans, and none of the other 5 pairs I have in my closet fit anymore. There was an increasing amount of shirts hanging in my wardrobe which no longer fit comfortably. Furthermore, the “unobtainable” shelf – those outfits which I am dying to wearing again one day – is already at capacity. I looked in my wardrobe when I came back from Christmas celebrations and thought “something has to give.”

So faced with all of this evidence that I could either keep expanding, or do something about it, I decided that I need to do something about it. I have to decide what “it” means really, and in future posts, you’ll get to understand that “it means to me.” I invite you to follow along my fitness journey. It’s really for me, but if others can take benefit from this, then I am happy to share my story.