Here we are in February, and I can reflect upon two New Year’s Resolutions I decided to make in late December:
- Adhere to every Greek Orthodox fast day in 2018
- Lose some fat
No, these two things aren’t unrelated. And I have done both before. But this year, I felt that I needed a little spiritual cleansing as well as physical cleansing, which often lead to mental and emotional cleansing. It sounds esoteric, but to paraphrase Alexander Juan Antonio Cortes (who you should follow if you’re in any way interested in fitness):
Physicality = mentality = spirituality
Everything is connected. I’ve written about the benefits of fasting before, and I stand by my assertion that “When I’m not worrying about the food I consume, I start to think about the other stuff I consume.”
I’ve also discussed my thoughts about physical fitness, and how it helps improve other aspects of my life. It’s amazing what a little self-discipline and enforced unpleasantness can do–let’s face it, lifting feels good, but there are some days when you just don’t want to go to the gym.
Lastly, I’ve discussed how the only way to get anything done and done well is to get obsessed and stay obsessed. Ruthless focus is what you need. At least in my life, when I haven’t been obsessed with something, I just kind of meander around.
This isn’t a post to brag, although I’ve been pleased with my results. Instead, I’d like to hopefully inspire anyone reading this to
So let’s put this all together. First, we’ll go over what I’m doing, and then we’ll go over what I’ve learned.
What I’m Doing:
- Observing every Greek Orthodox fast day. And there are a lot of them. Wednesdays and Fridays are usually strict fast (no meat, fish, eggs, dairy, oil, or wine). The overwhelming majority of Saturdays are fast free, except during high holy periods like Lent. And there other days where some things are allowed, say fish and oil and wine.
- Intermittent Fasting. I’m consuming nothing all day save coffee and water, eating a nice, healthy normal dinner. I’m watching out for carbs, but not cutting them entirely (I’ll have some bread), and have severely restricted my consumption of sugar. On weekends, sometimes I’ll have lunch if my wife makes it or if we go out, but otherwise it’s one meal a day.
- God. As a part of my routine, I’ve been trying to say my prayers more regularly, trying to read a few chapters in the Bible every night, and am memorizing the Lord’s Prayer in Greek, something I should’ve done when I was a kid.
- Gym at least five days a week. Because I’m trying to develop a good system, my workouts aren’t as long as they’d be if I only went three days a week, but they are pretty intense. I’ve divided them into an arms/legs/chest day and a back/shoulders day, ending each lifting session with some sit-ups and cardio. For cardio, I’ve been rotating from running on the treadmill (1-2 miles depending on if I did legs or not) followed by some incline walking, just walking, or riding the bike.
- Keep track of my weight every morning. I’ve been jotting them down on a pad of paper and then plugging them in to my iPhone’s health app because I like graphs (see the image at the top of this post). This goes to my idea of getting obsessed: If you don’t know where you’ve been and where you are, it’ll be harder to get to where you want to go.
What I’ve Learned:
- You don’t need to eat that much. I kid you not, I’m shocked by how much I’m not eating, how full I still am, and how much energy I have. When you tally up what we’re conditioned to eat on a daily basis in this country, it’s no wonder there’s an obesity epidemic. Maybe it’s my personal body makeup, but I’m just not hungry all day. Sure, the coffee, water, and gum help. But I can’t help thinking that a lot of hunger is psychological.
- I can weather storms better. Be they emotional, personal, or professional, feeling healthier has helped me deal with stressful situations far better than when I was an overweight shlub pushing three bills (yeah, I got pretty unhealthy after my son was born).
- Fat loss over weight loss. Tracking helps, but I’m looking to drop fat and not necessarily be overly focused on the numbers on the scale. The tracking helps as motivation–boy does it help!–but at the end of the day this whole project is more about getting rid of some excess weight now so I don’t have to deal with it when I’m in my sixties.
- Once you start, it’s hard to stop. This is a restatement of the adage that good habits are just as hard to break as bad habits.
- My son has picked up on it. He is five, the age when Dad is a God. He’s been asking for junk food or between-meal snacks far less, and not getting cranky when my wife and I tell him it’s not the time for junk food or snacks. He’s also eating a more diverse array of things because he wants to “get strong” (vegetables are still iffy, but he’s a fiend when it comes to fruit). He also tells me he wants to go to the gym with me–unfortunately, there’s really nothing for kids there.
It’s been a trip, and if any of you are interested in fasting from both religious and physical perspectives (hint: it’s not a coincidence that they’re related–maybe those ancients knew what they were doing after all), I’d love to hear about it.
What’s worked for you? What are you trying to accomplish? What’s helped you get there?
Oh, and for the record I’m down fourteen pounds since late December. My target is five pounds per month, give or take, as long as I can stay healthy.