After writing and posting today’s earlier soul-pouring and gut-wrenching article about my lockdown by AA, I need something to make me feel better.
This story is mostly a personal one, but it has a place on Middle Age Miles as it was inspired by a travel encounter. Sometimes you gain inspiration while traveling the world in unexpected ways!
To set the stage – In my younger days, I was blessed with pretty good metabolism, which helped me stay slender into my early adult years. As for most people, that blessing faded over time as I grew older. As I entered my late 30’s, I began running regularly – and at times a lot – to get back into better shape. I kept up my regular running routine for about 10 years, into the year 2012.
Back in 2009, I had set up my own law firm (the best decision of my professional career, but that’s another story). It had slowly grown, but in late 2012, it really took off. For the next 4½ years, I was pedal-to-the-floor busy with my law practice. It was good financially, but it took a toll on my body. I slipped out of my regular running routine and ate & drank as I pleased. Each year added a few pounds, slowly and gradually.
Even as my law practice slowed down in 2017 & 2018, though, my regular exercise routine didn’t return. As a result, by early 2019 my belly had grown quite large and my weight had climbed to 213 pounds.
My Travel-Related Inspiration
In early April 2019, Philly and I traveled to Italy with Middle Age Miles son and daughter-in-law Dylan & Alli. We spent a couple of days in and around Rome, then headed down for several days on the Amalfi Coast. We stayed in the spectacularly beautiful town of Positano.
As you can tell from the picture that’s the featured image for this article (if you didn’t already know), Positano is very hilly – pretty much built into the side of a cliff. Everything is a massive uphill climb (or downhill, if you’re going the other way, of course).
One day during our stay, we were wandering the streets of Positano, stopping in various shops. At one point, a runner, going uphill, clipped past us. The guy looked great, like he could be a professional athlete – tall, slender, athletic, probably in his late 40’s, maybe 50. Philly and I were impressed. We gave him some words of encouragement as he passed, and he nodded to us appreciatively.
Philly and I talked about the runner for a minute and then went on about our shopping business. A few minutes later, we encountered the runner guy again. He had finished his run, and he had just picked up something to drink. We sat down on a street-side bench with him and chatted for a few minutes.
Turns out the runner guy was British, and he said he wasn’t a professional athlete at all. In fact, he said that just 90 days beforehand, he had been a total couch potato, doing no exercise at all. He said that he just decided to do something about it. He enrolled in a plan called “Six Pack Revolution,” which he described as involving regular short-but-intense workouts, plus a specific meal plan. He told us that he had lost “two and a half stone” in the past 90 days (translated for Americans, 35 pounds!). On the day we met him, he had decided that he would run 5k up the hillside in Positano (a positively brutal run). He made it, and he looked none the worse for wear afterwards.
I was blown away by this guy, incredibly impressed. And, inspired. Over the last few days of our Italy trip, I vowed to myself that I would get back into a regular exercise habit and commit to losing some weight.
My Plan and My Initial Goal
I shared my inspiration and commitment with Philly and asked her to help me craft a plan that would be workable for me. She sets a great example by exercising regularly and eating well, and she’s a great nutrition coach. Unfortunately, she was going to have to work with one hand tied behind her back, because I’m a terrible eater – I don’t like any vegetables, and very few fruits. And we knew that we needed to create a plan that would be sustainable, because “crash” diets don’t work long-term. You need to create habits that are sustainable.
We worked out a plan that had 3 key parts:
- Regular exercise
- Significantly reduce carbs
- Portion control
On the “regular exercise” piece, I decided to start riding a stationary bike on most of my exercise days. I like running better, but there are always excuses not to run, and it’s hard on the body (especially at my age). I generally exercise 4-5 days a week, usually first thing in the morning because it works best with our schedules. I still run sometimes, but more than 80% of my workout days are on the bike now, and I’ve actually come to like it.
Significantly reducing carbs, for the most part, has meant not eating very much bread. Instead of sandwiches, I eat tuna or some other kind of meat, straight off the plate or out of a bowl. I also eat a fair bit of dairy, especially cheese. This satisfies my unusual food tastes. My friend JBTx also provided a helpful phrase, “fat is not the enemy.”
Portion control is mostly about awareness. Left to my own devices, I could eat the entire bag of chips almost every time. On this, it’s just been a matter of being more mindful of how much food I eat. In a similar vein (this could be a 4th point, but I like strategies with just 3 points!), I’ve also been mindful of eating food that’s a little “better” – like getting tuna back into my diet; eating baked or popped chips instead of regular chips; having lower-cal after-dinner sweets (there are some Healthy Choice fudgesicles that we get at Sam’s Club that taste great and are 100 calories each).
I started my plan on April 14, the first day after we returned from our Italy trip. On that morning, I weighed in at 213 pounds. I set an initial goal of getting under 200 pounds (I had not seen a number starting with a “1” in at least 3 years) by the time we left for our summer trip to Switzerland & France on July 2.
I stuck to the plan and dipped under 200 pounds in mid-June, a couple of weeks ahead of our trip. I made it down to 197 by the time we departed.
Keeping It Going
I’ve continued with my plan and the habits I’ve developed to this day. I may not be quite as disciplined as I was during the first couple of months of my plan, but I’ve continued along the same trend line.
One thing that’s made the plan sustainable long-term is that I haven’t deprived myself of the fun stuff. I still eat and drink on date nights and on our trips to Vegas, just being slightly more mindful around the edges.
It certainly helps to have Philly here setting a good exercise example and being a sort-of “accountability partner” (she’s my partner in every way, so I guess “accountability partner” works too!).
I’ve continued to slowly but not-very-steadily drop weight over the past few months. Of late, my weight varies a bit within about a 3-pound range. This morning, I weighed in at 190.2 pounds. So, I’m down about 20-23 pounds overall since I kicked off my plan on April 14. I haven’t had any days below 190 yet, but I think I’m getting close! And not quite “2 and a half stone” but I’ll take it. I wouldn’t mind losing a few more pounds, maybe down to the low 180’s. I don’t think I want to drop further than that, though.
Before I sign off, I wanted to share one side benefit to the weight loss that’s been great, not to mention very helpful for marital harmony. I had gotten to where I was snoring pretty badly. It hasn’t completely stopped, but it’s been dramatically reduced as I’ve shed the pounds. I’d guess that I snore 90% less now than I did when I was at 210+. Needless to say, that makes Philly a happier bride.
And beyond that, I just feel better about myself at the lower weight. Clothes fit better, and modesty aside, I look better. For what it’s worth, physically I don’t feel as much better as I expected to. But, I didn’t physically feel particularly bad at the higher weight. In any event, it has to be much better for my body and for my health in general to be carrying around less tonnage. I want to be around for a long time and be able to enjoy lots of fun travel for many years to come!
Thanks to Middle Age Miles readers for indulging my personal – albeit travel-related – story. It makes me feel better to tell it, especially after publishing my AA lockdown data point earlier today! And maybe, just maybe, it helps motivate someone else and pays forward the inspiration that the British runner guy in Positano passed along to me.
What unexpected inspirations have you found in our travels? Please feel free to tell us a story in the Comments!
At Middle Age Miles, we love to bring you travel, credit card and points-and-miles information that you can use to help make your travel dreams come true. To see all of our tips and insights, please Like and follow us on social media at:
Please share and re-tweet our posts and tell all of your friends about Middle Age Miles! Thank you!