March 6th, 2012

Public Shaming: The Only Way

Let’s be honest from the outset — I’m a big fat guy. During my third year at University (which was actually a placement year) I got an office job and piled on the weight stupidly fast. At one point I was so worried about it that I went to the doctor to get advice on how to best get healthy again. He did a couple of tests and said that I was fine, and that if I really wanted to lose weight, I should do it slowly rather than crash dieting.

Of course, I stopped worrying and “slowly” became “nothing”, and I’ve been more or less a constant weight ever since. In fact, according to the Wii Fit, I’ve lost 6lbs in the past 617 days.

The problem is, I really enjoy the outdoors. I love hiking, cycling and more recently snowboarding, and being a big fat guy kinda gets in the way of that. Like many people, every year or so I vow that I’ll cycle and walk more, reduce my cake intake and generally get fitter. And, like most of those people, I fail pretty hard at changing my bad habits.

Me, right, cycling at the Nürburgring with friends

This Time, I Mean It — But Not Like Those Other Times I Said “This Time, I Mean It”

The problem is setting goals. I hate the gym and don’t care about my weight in that I have no interest in getting to some arbitrary number. I can already walk and cycle to some degree, so goals like “I should be able to cycle x kilometres” ends up being another arbitrary goal I don’t have much interest in.

However, I’ve found a new activity I really care about, and that I currently can’t do very well — sliding down the side of a mountain on a plank of wood! A year or so before we moved to Sweden, my fiancé and I took some skiing and snowboarding lessons and got proficient enough to tackle a mountain. As luck would have it, my mother lives literally twenty minutes drives from Risoul, a ski resort in the French Alps, so off we went for some mountainside action!

I absolutely adore snowboarding — I could’ve stayed there all week. Except that’s the problem — I don’t have the stamina to keep my ample frame upright on a snowboard for more than a day, and after that I started to get exhausted very fast, causing me to fall over more, causing me to get exhausted even faster.

I fell over a LOT.

There’s Nothing Like Public Shaming To Spur Motivation

I’m writing about this plan here simply so it’s out in the public domain — if I fail, my friends and internet strangers have full permission to mock me mercilessly.

The Goal: To be fit enough to go snowboarding in winter 2012/13 and have a damn good time.

The Plan: I’ve bought a FitBit to allow me to keep track of my daily activity. The software has a “Trainer” that slowly ramps up your activity targets over time, allowing me to increase my daily exercise levels in a way that doesn’t impact my daily routine. In addition, I’ll have a few of my friends set targets to meet that the software might not think of, as well as trying my hardest to cycle more.

And damnit, I’ll cut down on Coke/Pepsi/etc once and for all — which will be the hardest thing to do since there’s a fridge full of the damn stuff at work — for FREE!

So, friends and internet strangers — if I fail again, at least I’ll be doing it publicly so you can all yell at me for being a lazy bum.

Feel free to shout motivation and/or helpful goals to aim for - I’m @iKenndac on Twitter. A nice one a friend of mine suggested today was, given x as the number of weeks since you started, do 2x pushups each morning. In the first week it’s just two, which is nothing — but after a few months it really starts to add up!