What’s Your Current Health Regimen?

I’ve talked about health a few times on this blog in the past, though in hindsight I don’t think the timing was ideal. My pattern is that I’d hear about a new-to-me health regimen, I’d get all excited about trying it and proceed to write about it…and then I wouldn’t follow through. Perhaps you can relate to that.

But today is different. Instead of talking about something I will do, I’m going to discuss something I’ve been doing and will continue doing.

I must admit this is a bit of a vulnerable blog post, because I’m going to talk about the way I see myself. I’m happy with a lot of who I am and what I see in the mirror, but it’s a bit sensitive to dig under the surface.

First, I’ll start with the intent: A few months ago, I realized there were a number of aspects of my life that I wanted to improve. I think they had been adding up for a while, and it kind of just hit me that all of them had the potential of improving if I lived a healthier life and lost some weight (I weighed around 165 at the time):

  • I wanted to snore less
  • I wanted to look healthier, especially in the face area (thinner, better skin), but also the belly
  • I wanted to lower my cholesterol
  • I wanted to improve sexual performance (I wasn’t sexually active at the time, but this video–which I’ll refer to again in a moment–made me start to think about it)
  • I wanted to fit into some clothes that were just too tight
  • I wanted to strengthen my back and neck, both of which have caused me occasional trouble throughout my 30s (I’m 38)

I realized that many of these goals–if not all–could be improved if I made some changes and got my weight down to 150. That’s not entirely an arbitrary number, as it’s what I wanted to weigh in college when my metabolism was a beast and I couldn’t gain weight over 145 no matter how hard I tried. Also, just to be clear, I know weight isn’t everything. It’s just a helpful benchmark for me.

I had this goal, but I also know myself pretty well by now: If I jumped headfirst into a drastic lifestyle change, particularly one that takes a lot of time every day, I probably wasn’t going to stick with it for very long. Also, I knew better than to cut out all the edible things I love–I needed balance and room for indulgences.

So over the last few months, I’ve been adding incremental lifestyle changes. I’ll note them below, and then I’ll share the results:

  • Daily exercise: I do 120 crunches, 3 sets of 2 different weight/resistance lifts, then I run up and down the stairs in my 8-story building for 10 minutes. It ends up being a 20-minute workout, which is long enough to get my heart rate up for a meaningful amount of time and short enough that I won’t make excuses about doing it every day. An excellent side effect is that it clears my head and often gives me a chance to think about one specific problem I’m working through that day.
  • Weekly climbing: This is still new to me, but I’ve been indoor rock climbing every weekend for a month now. While I could probably cut this and still accomplish my goals, it’s nice to have a sport/exercise that is less repetitive than my daily exercise regimen.
  • Drink more water: I thought I already drank a lot of water, but one small change has significantly increased my daily intake: I now keep a full glass of water on my desk at all times. I know, that’s probably super obvious to you, but it’s made a huge difference for me since the cup is always within reach.
  • Fewer carbs and sweets: For years I’ve eaten a heavy carb at both lunch and dinner. I never even questioned it. And I’ve had a dessert after each of those meals too. I still have dessert on occasion (but not every meal), and I only eat a complex carbohydrate once a day (usually at lunch). I’ve been trying to make sweet potatoes my main carb.
  • When I eat out, I eat half: If I’m going to indulge in a meal, it’s when I go out for lunch or dinner. But when I do, I try to eat only half my food. I save the rest as leftovers.
  • Whole food, plant-based diet: This is the biggest change. Out of the two big meals I eat each day (breakfast is just oatmeal), I don’t eat any animal byproducts for one of them (typically dinner). A normal dinner for me now is hummus or tofu, kale and spinach salad with pumpkin seeds, oat milk (or almond/coconut), a fresh fruit, and sometimes pita chips and/or carrots.
  • Stress less and love more: This is the toughest for me to achieve. It’s one thing to buy oat milk instead of cow milk; it’s quite another to not stress as much about everything! The daily exercise helps, and even just being aware of the goal helps. As for the love part, it’s a work in progress (I have a girlfriend now).
  • Sleep better: I’ve been pretty good at getting a healthy night of sleep for a long time now. However, as I wrote about recently, I’ve found that a 20-minute power nap sometime during the day does wonders for me. Fortunately, that’s the exact amount of time my cat Walter wants to sit on my chest every day.
  • I don’t drink much and I’ve never smoked: This isn’t a lifestyle change, but I think it belongs on the list anyway. Oh, and I haven’t had a soda in over a month.

One small note is that during this entire time, my sit-stand desk from IKEA has been broken (it won’t stand, and IKEA seems to have no interest in fixing it). I think it would make a big difference if I could get the stand function working again.

Results

  • Weight: I’ve dropped from 165 to 153 pounds. Not quite to 150, but definitely on the way there.
  • Snoring: Nope, according to my Sleep Talk app, I still snore for the first hour every night. Perhaps this simply isn’t tied to weight for me.
  • Lower cholesterol: I’m not sure yet, but I’m very curious about the results when I embark on my yearly checkup.
  • Improve sexual performance: Well, that’s a bit personal, don’t you think? 🙂
  • Fit into clothes: Yes! This has been great. There were several shirts I simply couldn’t wear because of my belly, but they fit much better now. Same with a nice pair of jeans I had grown out of. I do need to remember to wear a belt with all of my jeans, though, as I’ve dropped at least one pant size.
  • Avoid back/neck issues: I haven’t had any back or neck issues in months. It’s certainly possible that I’ll tweak something at some point, but I try to stay vigilant.
  • Looking better: You can be a judge of that via the photo I took a few hours ago below. Though I can also be the judge of that: I’m happy with the way I look, though I still feel like it’s a work in progress.

So while all of this seems to be working so far, it’s very much a work in progress. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what I’m doing and what you do to stay healthy, as I’m very open to improvements and variations.


7 Responses to “What’s Your Current Health Regimen?”

  1. Congratulations on all you’ve achieved!

    It’s fantastic that you’ve been able to improve your health and self-image via daily workouts!

  2. Joe Pilkus says:

    Jamey,

    Simply writing down your goals moves the needle from 20%-30% chance of success to more than 85% chance…but, why? You hold yourself accountable for your actions. In my life, I’ve set myriad goals (mostly running-related) and what always had helped me is to establish both a consistent schedule and a tracking mechanism. When I turned 40 and then, 50, I ran 1,000 miles those years (and around 600 in the intervening years) and while I took days off and certainly didn’t run when I was feeling poorly, having that Excel spreadsheet facing me at the end of the day, kept me honest and focused.

    Cheers,
    Joe

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Joe: Thank you for that advice! I hadn’t thought about the impact of writing down the goal, though I do track stuff on a monthly basis, which I find very helpful and motivating.

  3. TMac says:

    This is downright inspiring! Well done! I’ve been searching for a lot of the same things in life, but I’m far from there. Congratulations on your achievement!

  4. Jamey Stegmaier says:

    Joe: Thank you for that advice! I hadn’t thought about the impact of writing down the goal, though I do track stuff on a monthly basis, which I find very helpful and motivating.

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