Journey to Build a Healthier Lifestyle

Mohamad Ayyash ·

This will be my experimental lab as I test new diet changes, muscle building workouts, sleep hacks, and activities that reduce my stress and increase my long term happiness.

Last week's plan seems to be working well! I lost 3.2lbs last week and have finally got down to the 180s after more than a year in 190s and 200s! I'm at 186.8lbs #milestone

The changes I did were:

  • Eating slightly less every meal
  • Walking 15-30 minutes on the treadmill after 2 of my meals (a total average of 45 mins / day). Thanks Karim for the great advice!!

If I combine last week with this week then my weight loss average is 1.7lbs which is still inline with my original #plan to get down to 165-170lbs by this late spring. I will slightly increase my calorie intake today but will not change anything else this week and see if I can keep this going.

One random thought I want to throw in here is to try working out to loud music (e.g. rap station). I've read a lot about how this can help you lift more weights at the gym so curious to try it. I usually don't train with music but my #plan is to try this out for a while and see if it has any significant effect on my gains.

Last week I also took 2 introductory wall climbing sessions at the Dearborn gym. I figured it might as well come in handy some day especially if I decided to do outdoor rock climbing which is on my bucket list. I learned the correct techniques but I overemphasized the 'pull up' movement which made the exercise so much harder and left my elbows sore for a few days. I was able to climb to the top of the 2 easiest paths but struggled on level 3 where the wall is bumpier. The #lessons learned are the following:

  • Don't reach the arms too far up to grab the next handle. This will quickly tire the shoulders.
  • Keep the body leaning further away from the wall to avoid tiring the elbows and to better see the next handles.
  • Stand strong on the wall handles to distribute the weight away from the arms which tire much more quicker.

I'm taking my 3rd session this Monday where I will get certified in wall climbing on my own and so my #plan is to at least climb level 3 a few times without tiring my elbows this time.

I also had a swimming coach today to critique my freestyle front crawl technique. Overall my form is good but can use some improvements in a few areas. I also bought a swim lap counter and timer device so I can better track my swimming progression (I might start a separate journey for just my swimming actually). The main #lessons are:

  • Kick harder and faster (practice the kicking drill with the kick board)
  • Extend the arm further during the recovery phase
  • Practice the body rotation more (do the body rotation drills)

I had my weekly weigh in this morning and it turned out I only lost 0.25lbs and I'm now at 190lbs exact #setback. This is shy of my 1.5-2lb weekly projected loss. A little disappointed to be honest, as I was finally hoping to see 180 something on the scale (like 189.9 lbs would have been psychologically pleasing haha) but that's OK and I think it's because of the following:

  • I had two extra servings of dessert than usual (but otherwise my diet was pretty clean)
  • I hardly walked during the day (but of course kept up with my morning workouts as usual)

For next week the #plan is to do the following:

  • Only have a maximum of 1 serving of dessert this week
  • Very slightly reduce my portion size in my meals
  • Walk for at least 15 minutes after lunch and dinner. My friend Karim pointed this out in my earlier Mindcrumb entry and I did some research on it and it seems that a 10-15 minute walk right after eating may reduce the blood sugar level and improve the benefit of the walk much better than a morning walk

Two weeks in Michigan through the holidays and against all odds I actually lost 4 lbs!! #milestone

Back to 190lbs and still aiming for 165lbs by early summer while keeping up with my usual weight lifting routine. I'll be staying in Michigan for another 3-4 weeks so I'm happy that I found a nearby gym (Ford Recreation Center in Dearborn). I'm keeping up with my weightlifting routine and on my cardio days, I'm taking advantage of the swimming pool and basketball court to try something new.

My #goal for the next 3 weeks is to work with a swimming coach to improve my freestyle stroke. I prefer to do that ASAP to avoid any bad habits that are hard to break and to avoid injuries (I've had a swimming related shoulder surgery in the past).

The only #setback in staying in Michigan is the difficulty to do my usual 8000 steps outside. The weather has been pretty cold and snowy recently, so I changed my goal to 6000 steps a day. On days where walking with a heavy coat is difficult, I am forcing myself to walk on the treadmill (which I hate!!) while listening to an audio book.

Another #milestone is being super consistent with my eating and sleeping schedule. I wake up between 9 and 10AM daily. I have 3 major meals at 12, 3 and 7PM and a small snack at 10PM. My meals are balanced and tasty so nothing feels like a chore.

I also broke my bad habit of drinking a daily Matcha tea latte (300 calories) and replaced it with a 40 calorie cup of matcha-ginger-honey cup (which is way tastier actually!!) and 2 slices of dark chocolate. I usually have this after my first or second meal as my only source of caffeine. A #lesson I learned from this is how easy it is to break bad habits by replacing them with something else rather than simply abstaining.

My nightly routine involves a cup of chamomile tea at 12AM while dimming the lights in the room and watching some comedy before sleeping at 2AM sharp. The reason I'm sleeping a bit late is that I want to avoid any disturbance in my routine when I get back to California (3 hours difference).

One #recurring_problem I noticed I have in the past month is that I decide what dinner I'm having right when it's dinner time and I'm already hungry. This is why I ended up choosing generally less healthy options that are closer to my apartment (e.g. the pizza by the slice place or ordering a large takeout).

As a result I have gained 3lbs in the past month instead of losing 2lbs! (194lbs now). #setback

Granted, I think some of those gains are muscle gains because my weightlifting personal records have been going up and I look buffer in the mirror. In my weekly weigh ins, I have started tracking my waist size, chest size and bicep size to ensure I'm accounting to muscle vs fat loss/gains. I also still plan to do my DXA scan once I hit 185lbs.

My #plan to counter this is to plan 7 meals at the beginning of every week (e.g. AFTER dinner on Sunday night). 3 of those meals will be home cooked (see my cooking journey for ideas). Obviously I'll still be flexible if I had a last minute dinner with a friend or whatnot. I think this is a great approach as I can also ensure a good variety and the inclusion of a balance between protein, carbs and fat types; as well as difference in texture and taste profiles which I have found to be important to curb all cravings (planning to write about the importance of that variety at some point).

I am visiting family in Michigan for the holidays tomorrow and in my experience I ALWAYS end up gaining weight during my time there. I won't attempt to lose weight in my few weeks time there, but will try my best to maintain my weight.

Two days off in an eight day period ended up working perfectly well for me! So 4 days of weight training, 1 day of 30 minute biking and 1 day of 12 minute battle rope HIIT training is where we’re at. I’ve also been taking 7k-8k daily steps. I like the variety, intensity and recovery of all this. Will keep an eye on the results to make sure it’s working for now. I’m doing a DXA body composition scan next week for better tracking.

The past month I’ve been stuck at 190lbs but that’s because I’ve increased my nightly caloric intake since I was working late till 2 or 3 am sometimes. The #plan is to now go back to my 1am bed time because it’s better for my long term health and circadian rhythm.

Had a tough gym workout yesterday! I blasted through it but was too tired that I couldn't finish all the exercises. This is a first for me but I think it's because I'm overtraining so instead of taking just 1 day off every 8 days I'm going to do 2 and see if that feels better. #experiment

It could also be because I've been working late at night since I feel much more productive this way but this could interfere with my sleep schedule. Regardless if I keep working late I will aim to be consistent to avoid this disturbance.

I randomly watched this video about being clear about a goal weight in a specific time frame. Since my goal right now is to lean out, getting a visible six pack ab seems like a good goal to attain. So according to the recommended calculations in the video, in order to get to 13% bf (where a 6-pack will be achieved) then my target weight should be 165lbs. If I'm at 190lbs right now and losing weight at the rate of 1.5 lbs per week, then it will take me around 18 weeks or 4 to 5 months to get to my #goal which is perfectly just in time for mid spring 2019.

A 1.5 lbs a week seems to be a sustainable goal for me and allows me to maintain my energy levels while enjoying my favorite foods regularly. I won't try to get there faster because I know better from past experiences to maintain a long term perspective.

The past week I slipped on my nutrition plan (my nightly snack was on the sugary side) after 6 weeks of perfect execution. It happened after I finished a big work project that I spent months working on. #setback

I was trying to understand this anomaly but couldn't understand why this happened. Luckily I feel like I have regained my energy and now I am excited to start a new big project and get back on track with my plan. It could be that this was my body and mind's way of forcing me to take a break (given that I don't usually take days off).

The #lesson learned from this is I need to get better at maintaining my momentum after successfully finishing big multi-month tasks. My #plan and #experiment for next time this happens is to temporarily reduce the work load for 3 days (but NO FULL DAYS OFF), coupled with changing my daily routine by visiting a new place and doing new activities for those 3 days before continuing work. Curious to see if that will solve this problem.

The good news is that my weight is still at 190lbs so I maintained my weight loss and now I can get back on track. I'm interested to see if my work momentum will recover tomorrow as I still have a lot of important work that I need to finish before the holidays this year. This work will be vital in deciding how my startup is going to succeed so I am keen on finishing it quickly to score some wins in the "work-life" department.

Still going strong on the diet! I'm at 190lbs now and my next checkpoint is when I hit 185lbs.

I've had a cheat meal last Saturday that was quiet heavy and frankly made me a bit sick for the next day or two (an entire medium pizza and 3 pieces of dessert). I felt like I need to shock my metabolism to bring back my energy but it ended up backfiring. Even my workout the next day wasn't great. The #lesson I learned is to start small (in terms of exceeding my planned calorie limit) and then adjusting based on how I feel and my progress.

Today I ended up taking a slightly early cheat meal in the evening (was supposed to wait until Monday for a full 7 days but felt really low energy today). I was much more moderate this time and just had a slice of pizza and 2 small dessert items. As I was eating the second dessert item I felt like I am already full so my #plan for the next cheat meal (every 5-7 days) is to just have 1 dessert item instead to stay at maintenance calories (which is around 800 calories more than what I'm eating on a regular day). Will reconsider the exact proportions once weight loss is stalled.

Having just 1 dessert item every 5-7 days is going to also train me to get better at moderation when it comes to dessert (especially as we approach the holiday seasons) as I had a bad habit of always over-indulging with 3-4 dessert items whenever I decide to have dessert. #goal

Finally my new daily step #goal is now 8000 steps instead of 7000.

I'm  still sticking with the nutrition and workout plan as before but my weight is still at 193lb (so I didn't lose nor gain any lbs this week). #setback

This might be due to the fact that I was using an antibiotic in the past week for a throat bacterial infection. I have already bought a powerful probiotic (40 strains and 150 billion CFUs) that my #goal is to take this month instead of my usual 45 billion CFUs one. I also bought some bone broth and fermented vegetables for daily consumption during this month for the same purpose.

Research shows that gut health is important for metabolism and regulating hunger hormones and since antibiotics destroy the good bacteria in the gut, it could lead to long term digestive and metabolic issues that should be addressed quickly with a good probiotic and a sustained healthy nutrition plan. Saturday is my last dosage of antibiotic and I will monitor the progress for another week after the treatment is over before I make any changes in nutrition or workout. I will do my best to avoid any sugar-heavy cheat meals for this month as I've read that sugar feeds the bad bacteria in the gut.

I've already had 2 cheat meals in 3 weeks which felt great the day after. I'm glad I was able to bounce back to my plan the day after the cheat meal. This used to be an issue for me in the past especially during the night but I have found that having a scheduled 450 calorie meal at 9PM has massively helped me in overcoming those cravings. This is a confirmation that I'm on the right track.

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Wed Aug 29 2018 21:19:24 GMT+0000 (UTC)

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