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Year in Review 2020

Year in Review 2020: Exercise

Physical activity is very important. But not at the expense of your happiness.

Exercise is hard. But it is less hard the more you do it. This means consistency is key. There is an opposite side to it as well; any break can be critical. My journey to be consistent with my physical routine had a lot of challenges. Most of them were within.

Not my first rodeo

I have been obese most of my life. My family also has history of diabetes and heart disease. Around 2016, at the behest of my then fiancé, I decided to see a endocrinologist to see how close I was to getting type 2. His reaction can be summed up as “What the hell are you doing with your life, son?”.

I would like to say it was a wake up call. I did follow a dietician’s recommendations rather strictly and did manage to lose some weight. It took multiple pleadings and threats from my fiance for me to finally get off my butt, join a gym. I was serious. I had a personal trainer, I was in the gym daily, I was following my diet religiously. I managed to lose 25% of my weight over the next year. My consistency was key. My GP told me she was proud of me. The endocrinologist almost did a dance. I got married, and live healthily ever after.

Except then the chain broke. Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston, Texas area, my home at the time, in 2017. 15 trillion gallons of rain poured down over the course of 2 weeks. We had to evacuate our house. This caused a break in my routine that was never able to recover from.

I tried multiple times to be more consistent, to start up again, but never could. So at the end of 2019 I decided that I will set a measurable goal; to spend at least 5 minutes everyday, on the treadmill.

The Beginning

I did one more thing that is all the rage today on the Productivity internet; habit coupling. Namely, I coupled a bad habit(Watching Action Adventure cartoons and anime) with a good habit(exercise). I started at a brisk walk pace everyday. According to my treadmill, at 4.8 Kph. Each session was 20 minutes.

In late January I decided to add planks, inspired by James Clear’s fantastic book, Atomic Habits. Of course I did them on a hard floor without a mat. Would not recommend! I eventually added more exercises like pushups, resistance bands and leg raises.

Gains

At the end of the year, despite the bumps, at the end of the year, my peak speed was 6.8 kph. That is an improvement of about 52 percent year over year. I curl 3 sets of 15 with 4 bands, about 12 kgs(30 pounds). I can do elevated push ups only, but the reps have doubled in each set.

Outside of Numbers, I am feeling a lot better. I am rarely tired playing around with my son. And that child does not like to sit around. My clothes fit better. You can call it a win. Right? except…

“Diet & …”

During my original health run, I was really strict with my diet. This time, I did not even bother. The end result is that even after a whole year(minus the setbacks), I ended up gaining weight. Some of it might seem like muscle weight, but I doubt it. At my size, gaining muscle mass means losing fat.

This does give me perspective. I evaluated what I wanted to get out of this endeavor. Did I want to be a Marathon runner? Did I want to be a Gymshark? Did I want a cool story for Instagram before after post? I did not. Just being able to run around with my son. To be more active is a great reward for the hard work. I am not at my healthiest, but I knew it going in. This is a long-term effort. Arbitrary demarcation of the solar revolution has no bearing on it. To tie it in with my original goal; I am the type of person that exercises. That is enough.

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