Later this year Erica and I are having our five year anniversary. I can’t quite believe that five years have passed since we said I do, and we couldn’t be happier. Consequently, we are going to renew our vows and have a bit of a gathering.

The gathering is in late September and as such I want to ensure that Erica is renewing her vows with the same approximately-shaped guy. As such, I have spent the last three weeks or so focusing on losing some pounds. Now, I don’t really consider myself particularly overweight, but I have definitely put on some pounds since we got married, and my goal is to lose the 15lb or so.

Interestingly, we have discussed weight and health at a few previous Ubuntu Developer Summits, and I know that unfortunately a lot of folks in our community suffer from weight issues and challenges, so I thought it might be useful to share some tips I have learned about getting fitter. This might provide some food for thought for getting in shape too.

Now, to be clear, I hate exercise. I don’t like working out, I can’t stand gyms, and I also don’t want to live a monastic life in which I don’t get to enjoy my hobbies of smoking large chunks of meat for hours on end and having a few drinks with friends at the weekend. So, I wanted to put a plan in place to lose the weight while also maintaining a sense of normality with these aspects of my life.

I keep things pretty simple. I work out for 45 minutes a day on an elliptical trainer at home and I watch my calories during the week. I try to make sure I am eating at least 500 fewer calories than I need to maintain my current weight – this gets me onto a 1lb/week drop. At weekends I don’t go crazy, but I eat and drink pretty much what I want, and exercise at least once at the weekend.

To track this I have found the Fitbit One fitness tracker invaluable for showing how many steps I have travelled each day, how many calories I have burned, and helping to keep on track with my goals (at least 40mins of active exercise a day). I also use the Fitbit Area scale that automatically sends my weight to the Fitbit website, so I can see any progress that I am making. Unfortunately there is no Ubuntu or other Linux client for the Fitbit products, so I need to use the iPad to sync the data (some Android devices are supported too, but very few).

So here are some tips I have learned:

  • Pick a good time to work out. I used to do this in the evenings, but by the time I finish work at 7pm, get Jack to bed, eat dinner, and finish digesting dinner, it was often too late. I switched this to 4pm and I have been able to maintain my daily exercise routine without running out of time.
  • Find a calorie calculator (such as this) and figure out how many calories you need to eat to lose the pounds. As an example, I need 3000 cals to maintain current weight, so I shoot for 2500 a day to lose weight. Count up your food and try to keep it under your target. Some people track their food in Fitbit, but I can’t be bothered with that, so I just count it in my head.
  • Exercise is not about the time you spend doing it, but (a) making sure you sweat, and (b) making sure you get breathless at different times in your workout. I like variable resistant workouts such as on the elliptical where it simulates running up and down hills. It feel like I get much more out of my 45mins. Do whatever exercise you want, but I do the elliptical as it is (a) conveniently located in my house, (b) doesn’t involve going out and getting cancelled by weather, (c) lets me watch TV, and (d) doesn’t involve too much pressure on my ankles, like running does.
  • As I say, I hate exercise, so I watch Netflix and Amazon Prime on my tablet. I find this essential; anything to take my mind of working out and staring at the clock helps. This keeps me entertained, gives me a chance to watch the movies and shows I enjoy, and makes the time pass.
  • Learn to mentally set goals when working out. As an example, the other day I was tired after 20mins into my work out. I then mentally pushed myself to 30mins without stopping. I made it. Then I mentally pushed myself to 40mins. This is not only something you feel proud of in that workout session, but it gives you a renewed sense of determination.
  • Bear in mind that when you weight yourself your weight fluctuates, so don’t get disheartened. Always weigh yourself in the morning and then compare weights every Sunday. You should start seeing it drop off.

I hope this helps, and I am happy to answer any questions in the comments. :-)

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