About Fogdog's Weight Loss

Don't Focus on the Goal...

If you've followed this blog you know that I've struggled for many years with improving my health. I've finally reached a point where I've managed to maintain a small amount of success. Now it's time to take the next step, but I believe it requires a new way of thinking.

Instead of trying to get healthy, why not shift focus toward learning how to build healthy habits instead. Follow me as I try to teach myself how to Engineer healthy habits that will allow me to take my health to the next level. Let's see where this experiment goes!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

My New "Radical" Exercise Plan

Ok, maybe radical is too strong of a word choice.  For me it’s radical because of how I’m wired, but to most, it’s really just a little different.  In my last weigh-in I made some remarks about needing to focus on exercise more.  I left it with a comment that I wasn’t going to worry about it just yet, but that I would need to do something about it soon.  I made that comment because I wanted to take some time to visit some of my perceptions about exercise and see if there were some things I need to re-think. 

Self-reflection is an amazing thing.  I know some of you will read my current perceptions and think that I can’t possibly believe some of these things or that maybe I’m just plain nuts.  I am a highly intelligent engineer that believes in research and data; how could I possibly hold these perceptions as truth?  In reality I know all of these views are flawed, but that’s the problem with perception; quite often it becomes reality without you even knowing it.  You know that you are not supposed to speed on the highway, but you have a perception that it is really OK as long as you are keeping up with traffic.

Like it or not, this is how my brain works and I don’t think I’ll be getting a new one anytime soon.  However you would not believe how beneficial it feels just for me to put these thoughts out there.  Whenever I sit down to create an exercise routin (I have dozens of them), those perceptions are there affecting the way I create my plan.  Now that they are in front of me I can challenge each one and create a new plan that might be more successful for me.  Granted it’s easy to say what you are going to do and difficult to do what you say, I need to try something different as establishing a successful exercise habit has always eluded me.

What follows are some of the questions I pondered since my last weigh-in.  You’ll see what my current perception is along with how I would like to change it.  After I went through this exercise I started to create my new exercise plan.

What is Exercise? 

Current Perception:

In my world, exercise is defined as “Something I do solely for the purpose of improving my health”.  In other words, coaching my daughter’s soccer team and running around on the field with the team is NOT exercise.  Playing basketball with my other daughter is NOT exercise.  Going bowling or doing “Just Dance” on the Wii is NOT exercise.  It’s only exercise if I did it for my health, not some other reason (I told you that you would think I was nuts).

How I would Like to Change my View:
Anything I do that gets me moving around should be considered exercise.  This should include all the activities listed above and anything else that gets me moving around.  Why does exercise have to be something done specifically for the health benefits?  Not only that, but I probably shouldn’t even be focusing on exercise, but rather I should be focusing on being more active all the time.

Why Should I Exercise?

Current Perception:

You cannot lose weight if you don’t exercise regularly.  More accurately if I want to maximize my weight loss, then I need to get on a hardcore program and stick to it all the time.

How I would Like to Change my View:

If it’s really impossible to lose weight without a hardcore exercise program, then how did the early settlers get by without an elliptical and a P90X DVD?  Maybe you don’t need a hardcore program and you should just try to get exercise in when you can.

How Should I Exercise?

Current Perception:

In my book exercise is something that is scheduled and part of a routine.  I am an extremely organized person so workouts should all be scheduled in advance and should all be of the same duration of time.  Further, I should have pre-defined strength training workouts that are the same each week so I can measure my progress.  Also everything has to fit the week correctly; If I’m doing both strength training and cardio, then I need to do alternating Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for Strength and Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays for cardio.  Sunday doesn’t fit the pattern so it becomes a “rest” day.

How I would Like to Change my View:

I should exercise any way and anywhere I can!  Forget about schedules and charts and progress, If all I can get is 10 minutes, then that’s 10 minutes.  If I feel like playing basketball instead of hitting the elliptical, then do it.  Look for fun ways to keep moving.  Also, why measure progress in each exercise? Why not find a way to measure overall progress.

When Should I Exercise?

Current Perception:

The most efficient time for me to exercise would be in the morning as I have too many other commitments in the evening.  I wouldn’t be able to maintain a regular schedule (see how should I exercise?) in the evenings and I don’t want to have to squeeze it in during lunch.  Even though I am clearly not a morning person I need to get up 30 minutes earlier and get this done.  It’s like a chore, better to just get it over with first thing in the morning.

How I would Like to Change my View:

Again, why do I need a firm schedule?  There are plenty of busier people in the world, how do they do it?  I need to exercise whenever I can.  I also need to forget about trying to workout in the mornings, it’s probably never going to happen (I am truly not a morning person).  Instead of feeling like a failure every morning that I don’t workout, I need to focus on doing what I can when I can.  If I have to work late, then exercise after dinner.  Again forget all about schedules, they don’t have to dictate everything I do.

What Types of Exercise Should I Do?

Current Perception:

Stick to the tried-but-true plan; 3 days of strength training with 3 days of cardio in between to get the weight loss benefits both have to offer.  Strength training should be standard 3 sets of 12 reps of each exercise at the highest weight I can do and cardio should be interval training on the elliptical with 60 seconds hard and 60 seconds moderate.  Also, since I am extremely overweight, there are certain exercises that I cannot do such as pushups, squat thrusts (burpees), or any yoga pose whatsoever.

How I would Like to Change my View:

I need some new routines.  The old ones are OK once in a while, but I get bored after just a couple weeks.  Try some High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or do circuit strength training instead of standard strength training.  I can also incorporate cardio in with strength training, why does it have to be separate.  Take it outside, vary intensity, and most importantly, go after those exercises I can’t do real well because those are the areas where I am the weakest.

How does one become addicted to exercise?

Current Perception:

It’s not possible!  Only people that are truly crazy and obsessive compulsive about their weight are addicted to exercise.  Like household chores, there are only a rare few that truly enjoy doing it, everyone else just does what they need to in order to get by.

How I would Like to Change my View:

Stop focusing so much on “exercise” and start focusing on being “more active” and you might just like it.  The purpose of exercise should not just be for the result (weight loss), but rather for the enjoyment of moving around.  The alternative (sitting on the couch and doing nothing) isn’t all that appealing.

As I said earlier, it’s great that I want to change my views; but it’s another thing to actually pull it off.  Hopefully my new exercise plan will help drive the change:

OK so here’s my new “radical” plan:

  • Instead of measuring progress on each individual exercise, I’m going to take a different approach.  I’m going to develop a fitness test that I will perform when I start this program.  Every 30 days I will take the test again to see how my overall fitness is improving.
  • I’m going to put together a list of all the different activities that I could be doing each day.  I already have multiple weight workouts designed plus multiple workout DVDs and my kids love to play outdoors.  Each day I will try to pick something from the list or create something new to add to it.
    • The only rule about activities – No heavy weight lifting on consecutive days (muscles need rest time after a heavy weight workout).  
  • I’m going to bucket all “exercise” into 1 of 3 buckets: Low Intensity, Medium Intensity, and High Intensity
    • Low Intensity – Any exercise that I do that doesn’t significantly elevate my heart rate.  Examples include walking, casual bike riding with kids, push mowing the lawn, etc.
    • Medium Intensity – Any exercise that gets my heart rate up occasionally, but is followed by longer periods of low intensity.  Examples would include playing basketball with the kids, Playing Wii games, Regular Weight Lifting
    • High Intensity – any exercise that keeps my heart rate up regularly.  Examples would include running, Elliptical, and Circuit strength training.
  • Everyday I’m going to record and score my exercise
    • Low Intensity = Number of Minutes
    • Medium Intensity = Number of Minutes x 2
    • High Intensity = Number of Minutes x 3
  • I will establish point goals to ensure I’m getting enough high intensity exercise and that I’m getting enough total exercise.
That’s it!  It doesn’t get much simpler than that.  Here are the goals (at least for now, I will adjust as needed)
  1. At least 120 Points (60 minutes) of high intensity every week
  2. At least 400 Points per weigh-in Period (10 days)
I didn’t mention anything about where I will try to get my exercise.  Fortunately for me I have an elliptical machine and a full set of dumbbells so I’ll be doing most of my exercise at home.  I also have a mountain bike, a dog that loves hiking, three very energetic little girls, and I live right next to a high school that has a running track and football training gear (hmmm, maybe I’ll go flip some big tires or hit those tackling dummies!).

I want to start this when I hit day 30 and that’s not too far off.  Hopefully I’ll be able to post my fitness test before then.  I’m sure this style isn’t for everyone, in fact, I’m not even sure if it will work for me.  What’s the worst that can happen?  It won’t work and I’ll try something else.  In the meantime at least I’ll get a little more exercise than what I’m currently doing (almost nothing).

Let me know what you think!  Leave me a comment and let me know if you think this is crazy or do you think I might be on to something?  Stay Strong!


  1. Many of your perceptions are not wrong, just slightly skewed. Like it IS better to exercise in the morning. IT IS OK to exercise for the purpose of health. I think it is OK not to consider running around on the soccer field or playing basketball exercise because then you do that and think I STILL NEED TO EXERCISE which would actually benefit you. I would say your new 'radical' plan is good but sometimes routine and rigidity for people who need to lose weight is necessary. The trick is to find something you like, dare I say LOVE? (Like I heart zumba so much and I AM ADDICTED TO IT) And just do it every chance you get. :) And always make sure your eating is spot on because there is also a saying, 'you can't out exercise a bad diet'... ;)

  2. Thanks for the comment; While I agree about having a "routine", I've learned that my obsession about maintaining that routine has continuously caused me to fail. It's a definite concern that I'll be keeping an eye one.

  3. The early settlers didn't have cars, washing machines, or electricity. They didn't need to exercise because they were forever doing physical labor. I sure wouldn't want to wash long dresses by hand and long underwear. What hard sweaty work that would have been!!I sometimes think, that even though work was harder back then, we were a little better off. I walk half an hour and think I've exercised. I've done nothing compared to way back then.

  4. I agree that we need to focus on moving more and not being so focused or obsessed

  5. Exercise is definitely the bane of my existence.

  6. BTW, I nominated you for a Liebster, you don't have to do it if you don't want to though :)


  7. Good, solid, well thought out plan. Best of luck to you!

  8. You are such an engineer and I LOVE IT!! So precise and detailed... Hey, it is what we do! Enjoying your posts and your journey. You will continue to learn a lot as you progress.