Over the past many months, we’ve gotten so many compliments on how we’re looking these days. If that includes you, thank you so much!
Yes indeed, we’ve both lost a good deal of weight since our highs at the start of the pandemic. It’s been a slow gradual process over the past three years, and the changes have been even more significant since this time last year.
Chris is down over 50 lbs, and me around 30 since summer 2020. Not insignificant at all.
We’re both feeling fantastic, and feeling fitter entering our 50s than at most any other point of our lives.
We’ve had some questions pop up about how we’ve done it (spoiler alert: diet & exercise), so over the weekend we did a Live on YouTube recounting the journey.
Taken from our notes for the outline, here’s the written version if you prefer to follow along this way.
It is important to note that we are in no way fitness, diet or health experts – and this is not advice in anyway. We’re just sharing our journey and what has worked for us.
Our General Fitness Time Line
I’ve always been pretty active in my life and kept relatively in shape. From being a competitive swimmer in my youth, to taking up regular walking, biking, yoga, rollerblading and dance in my adulthood before hitting the road.
Chris has been more the work-a-holic geek, with good intentions to keep active – but he never really made it a sustained priority. His weight has fluctuated widely over the years.
When we met, we were both in pretty rocking shape (if I do say so myself). But hitting the road made keeping up our activity levels quite challenging. Living in a small trailer and being constantly on the move while juggling travel days with work and social life left little energy left over for fitness.
Plus, let’s not mention all the amazing food to sample, and happy hours.
Over the years, we’ve made a few attempts to get in better shape – with varying results:
- March 2010 – Started Couch to 5K – We were both feeling the need to reverse the negative trends in our health by putting more focus on fitness. I got the ball rolling when I discovered a plan called “Couch to 5K” that had several apps available to coach you through the process of getting off the couch and building up mixed walking and running over nine weeks until you can complete a full 5K running distance. Chris had always hated running – so he wished me well as I started the program, but the gamification of it eventually lured him into trying it too. I ended up having too many joint aches to keep it up past the first few weeks, but Chris actually completed the program and ran his first 5K.
2010 – 2012 – Chris kept running sporadically – and ultimately ran 8 Tuff Miles while we lived in the USVI, and then signed up for the Space Coast Half Marathon in 2011 once we returned back to Florida. I walked these events, and we both kept pretty active with hiking and snorkeling too. During this time period we also experimented with intermittent fasting, including even doing a 10-day Master Cleanse. We were both in some of the best shapes of our lives at this point. However it didn’t last and we fell out of the habit for a few years as travel, life & business endeavors consumed us.
- 2017 – Birthday “Warranty Renewal” Runs – After taking a several year break from running, Chris started a tradition of running for his birthday every year in 2017 when he turned 45. Some years – that might be his only run of the year. Running and exercise still remained far from habits, but we did keep relatively active with walking, hiking and biking. But the weight was creeping on, and we chalked it up to just being a normal middle age thing. At the end of the year, we also did try the Whole30 diet and each dropped some of the weight, but it wasn’t sustainable long term.
2020 – Pandemic Cheesecakes – We entered 2020 already with the weight coming back, and the pandemic definitely didn’t help things. Mid-summer found us both in pretty bad shape, and me in particular at my highest weight ever. Stress was high back then for all of us. We were walking regularly, but also making cheesecakes in the Instant Pot way too often.
- 2020/2021 – Apple Fitness Focus – In the fall of 2020, we decided we needed to stop with the cheesecakes and do something different. Both sporting Apple Watches, we committed to closing our fitness rings everyday. We basically gave ourselves over to Mistress Siri, who would tell us we needed to get out there and earn more points. We did this mostly with brisk walks at first, and then began using Apple Fitness+ soon after launched giving us an at home work out option with yoga, HIIT and weights (and now pilates and kickboxing too!). We also finally got our second set of eBikes and started integrating in camping trips with biking trails. We had successfully reversed the weight gain trend and were making progress towards better health.
2021 – Sunday Runday Began – Chris had set an intention to run once a week. But he always found excuses to not do it. It was two years ago on our last visit to our lot in Benson, AZ that he decided to set a day – Sunday Runday. Whether rain or shine, work load, stress or whatnot, he was running every Sunday. It was actually on a run during that visit that a neighbor and YouTube follower spotted him out running and remarked ‘Wow, you run! I assumed you guys were potatoes!’ (he apologized recently for the remark, as he didn’t intend it to be negative – but we joke that being geeks who can’t be called potatoes is a great goal!). I continued with just staying active, and while Chris was out on his runs I usually joined an Apple Fitness trainer for some HIIT.
2022 – Fitter at Fifty – We both continued to stay active and focused on healthier eating habits. Chris was regularly running 5 and 10k’s, but usually just once a week. And in May, I actually decided to give Couch to 5K another shot. We were both seeing the results of our efforts. In September Chris decided to sign up for the Space Coast Marathon for his 50th Birthday in November! Giving himself just 2.5 months to increase his runs from 6.2 miles to 26.2 miles – I decided to set a goal for myself of doing the 1/2 marathon. My birthday gift to him was giving him a training partner and a sane training plan of 3 runs a week via the Run-Walk-Run Galloway method. We both rocked it!
- 2023 – Sticking to It – This past year we have kept up with our three times weekly runs. We also made biking friends in Sanford and we developed a weekly routine of 25-50 miles rides with them (mostly without electric!). We’ve continued Apple Fitness work outs too. And to take it further, earlier this year I also adopted a Mediterranean Diet which is plant based and focused on unprocessed foods and avoiding sugars. It’s been incredibly sustainable and delicious.
In 2023, we’ve both seen significant improvements in our health, stamina and physique. We credit it to our partnership, our diet and our exercise.
Tips That Work (For Us)
A few have asked us for tips on how to get started or stay motivated.
For us, unlike past attempts with shorter term diet and lifestyle spurts – this has been a process of finding a sustainable lifestyle approach that we can keep up for the long term.
All without it feeling like a sacrifice, and better yet – something we enjoy!
So here goes:
- A Simple Unbreakable Commitment – It all started with setting a goal to close our fitness rings every day. By the end of this year, I’ll have ‘streaked’ for 1000 days in a row. And for Chris, declaring “Sunday Runday” has been a huge consistency motivator. He’s not missed a Sunday run in over two years now.
- Set Realistic Goals – Our fitness ring goals require actually being active throughout the day, but they are not aggressive. We wanted them achievable even if the weather was bad or we had a highly busy day, but not something so easy that we could get by just doing normal daily activities. They’re set to about the effort it takes to briskly walk 3-4 miles a day. We usually far exceed our daily goals, but we’re also thankful on low energy days to not break our streak which would break our motivation. And for Chris, his Sunday run doesn’t have to be a long one – he just has to put his shoes on and run a bit (he usually does a 5-10k however).
Pick activities that keep you inspired – You have to pick activities that you actually enjoy and will look forward to. Otherwise, you’ll find any excuse to not do it. We have found that biking, hiking & running are a great ways for us to explore new places in our travels – and they don’t require a bunch of extra gear. But also don’t be afraid to peak outside your routine and try new things – running was really never our thing before, but now it is. Pilates wasn’t originally of interest, but now we crave it.
- Gamification – Closing our Apple Watch rings has been a huge incentive. We both are motivated for those sparkles at the end of the day saying we’ve completed our goals, and seeing our longest move streak grow each day. And Chris will do anything for the virtual confetti that appears on his phone’s screen when he completes running goals in our Tempo running app.
- Ramp Up Slowly and/or Challenge Yourself – Usually it is best to ramp up slowly. But sometimes it makes sense to take on a big crazy challenge – like signing up for a Half Marathon at the last minute without time to train. Having a sudden challenging goal to focus on can be inspiring. But if you do bite off more than you can chew – give yourself outs. Don’t risk an injury that can actually set you back even further. When Chris did his first half-marathon, his prime goal was just to finish – running the whole way was just a bonus.
Tracking – It can be hard to stay motivated if you don’t feel you’re making progress. There will be lulls and plateaus. You might not see the scale budge as your body composition changes. But take measurements, keep photos/video around, keep some old clothes and feel them fitting looser.. you’ll realize the progress. Find tracking apps for your fitness to record your progress – seeing improvements in your pace, heart rate, distances and other fitness markers can be so inspiring to stay at it.
- Music (and other Audio) – Music can really help the miles melt away – and certain songs can provide much needed bursts of energy. For longer /slower activities – getting lost in a podcast, audiobook or full album can become engrossing.
- Accountability – Find a venue to share your journey – whether a training partner, friends, posting to your social media, or in a private group. Sharing keeps you accountable to your goals, gives you positive feedback and may help inspire others!
- Be Inspired By Others, But Don’t Compare Yourself to Them – Seeing others who are faster, can go longer, do more types of activities or are just fitter can be intimidating at times. Try to find inspiration in another’s journey – but the only person you should be competing against is yourself. There were so many times I wanted to give up during my 1/2 marathon training. Chris can run circles around me, and ultra marathoners were intimidating. Knowing I’d be finishing near last with my slow pace made we want to cry. But I did it. I finished and I’ve kept at it.This is your journey and you must find what works for you.
- Endorphins – A lot of stress can evaporate after a workout. It becomes strong positive reinforcement and so much healthier than binging on chocolate or a bottle or two of wine (we do still enjoy both!).
- Making it a lifestyle – Find balance for long term sustainability. Approach changes as you’re ready for them, push yourself in small steps. Our journey was over many years, not an all at once endeavor. We didn’t go from couch to marathon in one giant leap. We pushed ourselves a bit, let it become a new habit and then did it again. And we’ll keep doing that.
And most of all, committing to this lifestyle change together has been the strongest motivator.
We keep each other inspired to get out of bed even on chilly mornings to keep at it. And we see the benefits in our relationship through reduced stress, more energy, feeling healthier and sexier.
Just Do It!
If you’ve been wanting to make a change in your fitness and health – we encourage you to find what works for you to make that first step. And then take another step.
Before you know it, those steps will add up to miles.
Don’t copy our journey, or set our goals as yours. You don’t have to run or bike, close your rings or adopt our dietary choices. This is your journey, and you’re the one who has to forge your unique path.