I've spent almost my entire life enjoying the benefits of a ridiculously high metabolism—eating and drinking whatever the hell I pleased whilst enjoying a pleasantly sedentary lifestyle and not an ounce of weight gain to show for any of it. However, it would seem that my age is finally starting to catch up with me.

Like I'm sure many others had, since the start of the whole COVID thing, I ended up putting on quite a bit of weight. While adding a few extra pounds to my previously borderline (if not actually) underweight frame wouldn't have been a terrible thing, 50 or so extra pounds and a burgeoning dad-bod was not a particularly welcome development.

A few weeks ago, I finally decided to stop simply sulking about every passing glance at my increasingly doughy shirtless appearance in the mirror and actually do something about it. This isn't to say I'd done absolutely nothing in the past—I'd taken up cycling in the summer of 2021, and I still quite enjoy it. However, a couple rides a week when weather permitted paired with no other real physical activity and zero dietary considerations whatsoever has done very little in terms of actually combating my newly and begrudgingly acquired physique.

Additionally, the coming winter means putting the bike away for six months of miserable northern Ohio weather as well as the looming specter of Seasonal Affective Disorder that would undoubtedly push me to further isolate and dive even deeper into my poor eating habits.

My first idea was to start running. It's certainly much more accessible in terms of the cold, wet weather that's just around the corner. So I dug into various "get your ass off the couch" type running programs, and settled on one called "None to Run" which had starting intervals that were a bit easier and some light strength training exercises to help prevent injury. It started well enough...that is until I aggravated an MCL injury I'd suffered last winter and—thanks to the joys of capitalism and for-profit healthcare—never had the opportunity to have properly diagnosed and treated.

Consequent research on low-impact exercises led me to things like ellipticals and water exercise—neither of which would I have access to at home, so the choice was essentially made for me: I would have to join a gym.

After looking around, I settled on the local YMCA. It's actually pretty nice. On top of having a wonderfully convenient location nearby and a workout center with decent equipment, there's also a pool (which I have yet to use in my three weeks there) along with a steam room and a sauna for helping to recover and relax after a workout. It's also helpful that it's not terribly busy and that the crowd that is there tends to be older, meaning I don't have to worry about feeling self-conscious that a 20-something gym rat will be scoffing at the lack of plates I'm stacking, et cetera.

I've surprisingly found no lack of motivation so far in terms of going to the gym frequently—I've been visiting anywhere from 3-5 days a week. It's still early, but I don't have any reason to believe that this enthusiasm will wane much, if at all.

In addition to nailing down and tweaking a workout routine, I've also been researching nutrition and diet information and meticulously tracking my intake of calories, carbs, protein, fats, and other nutrients. I've decided that there's no particular fad diet that suits me and my particular needs and goals, so I'm just taking what I believe are the good parts of several and incorporating them into a "plan" of my own.

In my usual "obsessively latch onto a new idea" style, I've dug around to find new apps (all FLOSS, naturally) and created a couple spreadsheets to help me document everything:

  • OpenTracks is simply amazing. I use it to track my bike rides, my runs (when I did them and when I can do them again), and some of my walks. It's wonderful if you want something like Strava but don't care for the entire world being able to see your personal information and workout info. It can also connect to several wearables to keep track of things like your heart rate, etc. during your ride/run/walk.

  • Energize is an app that helps to track dietary intake by allowing you to scan the bar codes of the foods you eat and reference them on the Open Food Facts database. From there, it pulls all of the nutrition information about the product for you.

  • OpenScale lets me keep track of my weight gains and losses, BMI, body fat percentages, etc.

  • GymRoutines is what I use to keep track of my workouts at the gym. I'm still getting the hang of it, and I wish there were more analytical features in terms of tracking things like personal bests, max weights, etc., but it's doing what I need it to so far.

  • In addition to the scale app, I've also created a spreadsheet that keeps track of 3- and 7-day weight averages, calculates my body fat percentage based on my height, weight, neck, and waist measurements, and calculates both the weight I carry in fat as well as a moving target weight that accounts for muscle mass based upon the aforementioned stats and a target body fat percentage.

Overall, things seem to be going well. After spending my entire adult life around 145 pounds, prior to getting back on my bike this past summer, I weighed in at 197 pounds. The past two days in a row, I've finally fallen back below the 180 pound mark. I don't have any desire to get down to my original weight, as that wasn't particularly healthy to begin with. However, depending on my gains in muscle mass, I'm currently looking at the 165-to-170 pound range as a goal by the end of the calendar year.

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