Taking charge of my fitness

When I was in university, I was quite active. I was playing basketball, European handball, and other sports regularly. In my 4th and 5th years, my friends and I would swim 2 or 3 times a week at the UBC pool. Although I never competed in a triathlon race, I was training every week with the UBC triathlon club in my last year of university.

UBC Storm the Wall 2006

I got involved in the Varsity Outdoor Club after university graduation and met some awesome like-minded friends through the VOC. I was out on outdoor trips almost every weekend, whether it be hiking, climbing, kayaking, or skiing. Since there were tons of extremely fit people at Varsity Outdoor Club, whenever we went on trips, I would feel that I was out of shape…

Enjoy an alpine sunrise

For example, a friend of mine competed in The Vancouver 100 (100 km trial, 16,300 feet vertical climb and 16.300 descent, out and back) and finished in 16 hours and 21 minutes. Another friend did a solo ski traverse the entire Garibaldi Park (104 km/65 miles in distance, 8,700 m/28,500 ft elevation gain) in a bit over 30 hours earlier this summer.

Trying to keep up pace with my friends, I was very motivated to improve my overall fitness. So, I would head to the gym at work  about 3 or 4 times a week, working out for about 1 hour or so each time. A combination of weekend outdoor trips and working out at the gym kept me relatively in good shape and kept my weight to about 167 lbs or 76 kg.

Looking much bigger due to puffy down jacket

Since the arrival of my two kids, however, I have stopped heading out on weekend outdoor adventures. It is simply unfair to leave Mrs. T and the kids at home while I play outside all weekend. Instead, I now live vicariously through my outdoor friends whenever they post pictures of their outdoor trips on Facebook.

To make matter worse, I have been going to work’s gym less and less. So far this year I have only went a handful of times. Although I go for walks regularly and chase after the two little kids every day, I have been not as physically active the over last year.

Combining with more work travels and business dinners, the extra calories are starting to show on my body. 🙁

My belly is slightly wobbly and I have less muscle tone in my body.

(Luckily my belly isn’t like this…)

Weighing myself the other day, I now weigh 175 lbs or 79.5 kg. At a bit shy of 5’11”, I am not considered obese, but I can certainly lose some weight.

As many of you know, I am focused on achieving financial independence so I can have more options in life and choose to work because I want to, not because I have to. But being financially independent would mean nothing if I do not have my health. 

To me, we need to work on ourselves along the financial independence journey.

Financial Independence + Health + Self-improvement = Good Life

Don’t get me wrong, I am pretty healthy overall. I donate blood regularly (55 times so far), my blood pressure is quite good (usually around 100 over 75), I eat healthy, and I feel good about myself.

But losing a few pounds and add more muscle tone would do wonder to my overall health.

So this post is about me taking charge of my fitness. The plan? It’s pretty simple really.

  • Go to work’s gym regularly, 2 – 3 times a week. Focus on lifting weights, building muscles.
  • Continue going for walks regularly during lunch time.
  • Cutting back on food intake slowly. Eat more vegetables. Stop eating when I am about 75% full, rather than stuff myself.
  • Cutting back on snacks. Eat healthier snacks.

What is my end goal? I am targeting that in 6 months I will weigh 75 kg or less and look better in the mirror with more overall muscle tone.

This post has nothing to do with financial independence. The key reason of writing this post is to keep myself honest and take immediate action. Over the next 6 months, I will provide some fitness updates to show my progress.

Dear readers, do you have any tips on improving overall fitness? How do you stay fit?

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31 Comments

  • Reply
    Mrs. Adventure Rich
    September 28, 2017 at 10:28 am

    Hey Bob- great goal for losing weight and getting in better shape! As a full time working mom, I find that it is helpful to make my workouts as efficient as possible.

    Gym- When I go to the gym, I plan my workout (can be a loose format or an exact workout) so I don’t end up standing there wondering what to do next. I also go to the YMCA where they include 2 hours of free daycare for our son. This allows me to either go when my husband is still at work or go when he needs to do projects (since our son is taken care of in both instances).

    HIIT- Have you considered including some HIIT (high intensity interval training) or Tabata training? These can be “quick win” workouts that amp up your heart rate, using body weight or weighted exercises to combine strength and cardio…. great for the “lunch break” workouts on days I can’t make it to the gym. There are plenty of free YouTube video workouts to start with here.

    Family Activities- I often use both our bike trailer and our jogging stroller to do workouts or family bike rides with our son. Granted, the kiddos typically need to be old enough to hold themselves up for this, but once they are that age, I get some great workouts (due to the added weight!) while enjoying the outdoors and time with my husband.

    On the food intake side, I find that I regulate my intake a bit better when I focus on drinking plenty of water throughout the day.

    Good luck!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      September 29, 2017 at 8:45 am

      Hi Mrs. Adventure Rich,

      Maybe I’ll have to try HIIT one of these days, I have heard lots about it. We definitely run around on the playground with the kiddos.

      Drink plenty of water throughout the day is an excellent tip. I will definitely do that more.

  • Reply
    Ms. Frugal Asian Finance
    September 28, 2017 at 11:06 am

    Thanks for sharing your fitness story. On behalf of Mr. FAF, I’ll say he can totally relate to you. Mr. FAF used to go to the gym every day. But hip pain, work, and family have left him less fit than ever (also overweight). Since working out makes his hip pain worse, he’s been trying to eat less and eat more healthy and has dropped a couple of lbs!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      September 29, 2017 at 8:50 am

      Yucks about hip pain, that would certainly limit his ability to go to the gym and work out. Having said that, he should be able to find some lower impact exercises to do. Eating less and eat more healthy is a good way to drop your weight. Similar to personal finance, managing weight is about taking care of input (food) and output (exercises).

  • Reply
    Money Beagle
    September 28, 2017 at 11:10 am

    I generally go to the gym in the morning. It means getting up early but if I try to go after work or any other time of the day, there’s always an excuse not to.

    I also quit all snacking at work.

    I dropped over 12 pounds over the first eight months of the year and now am trying to maintain. I could still use to drop a little fat and put on some muscle instead, but overall I’m pretty proud.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      September 29, 2017 at 8:52 am

      Going to the gym in the morning is a great idea, since I wake up pretty early nowadays anyway. Avoid snacks, aka extra calorie in take, is definitely a good way to lose weight.

      Congrats on losing over 12 pounds over the first eight months of the year. 🙂

  • Reply
    Dividend Diplomats
    September 28, 2017 at 11:28 am

    Tawcan –

    More work, more travel, more client relations, more time sitting on your butt in a chair, car or plane and more meals that you do not have a clue how they were prepared. Ultimately – working out 4-5x per week keeps my body in check and mixing up the workouts help too. In addition, I have been trying to reduce dairy and meat to a more tolerable level and increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables, no brainer there. That, as of late, has helped me stay fit and not giving myself an excuse why working out is not doable that day (i.e. it only takes 20 minutes if you really want it to). You got this Tawcan, get that focus hat on.

    -Lanny

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      September 29, 2017 at 8:55 am

      More work, travels, client relations typically mean less time to exercise. That’s awesome you’ve been able to work out 4-5 times a week to keep your body in check. I need to be more active to burn the extra calories.

      I have been reducing my meat consumption and eating more vegetables. I think this is helping quite a bit already.

  • Reply
    Lily @ The Frugal Gene
    September 28, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    I love any post with a Simpson snippet 🙂 woo, look at that blubber fly!!! Lols!

    I dance to keep fit. Roughly 2 to 4 hours a day. No wonder I barely keep up with blogging and my house is a utter mess! Still worth it!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      September 29, 2017 at 8:56 am

      Wow dancing 2 to 4 hours a day. That’s really awesome! If I can play sports 2 to 4 hours a day that would be totally awesome. 🙂

  • Reply
    Norm
    September 28, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    I had one really fit year a few years ago that I attribute to setting a concrete new year’s resolution: 200 days of exercise during the year, and I specifically outlined what constituted a day’s exercise (at least 45 minutes of weights/cardio in my home gym or running 5k outside). I think I came in around 150 or 160 days, but it really kept me motivated since 200 days was a challenging number, but within reach. Nowadays I walk at least 45 minutes a day and bike to work a lot, and I’m feeling fit, but not as much as that one year with the overarching goal.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      September 29, 2017 at 8:57 am

      200 days of exercise during the year is an excellent and very challenging goal. Something I should think about for sure. 🙂

  • Reply
    eresc79
    September 28, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    Like you, I don’t have time to do all the things I used to since I have kids. I keep in ok shape by:
    1) Biking to work. My commute time at rush hour by bike is almost the same, and sometimes faster! than driving or transit. I see Veenstra everyday doing the same btw…
    2) Going to the climbing gym once a week with a regular partner.
    3) Doing core-exercises in the morning before leaving for work.
    4) Enrolling into a year event such a Granfondo to give me a goal for training.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      September 29, 2017 at 9:09 am

      Biking to work wouldn’t be an option unfortunately. 🙁
      I have been doing core-exercises every night before going to bed which is helping.
      Enrolling into a year event is a good idea, that would keep me motivated.

      • Reply
        eresc79
        October 4, 2017 at 10:05 pm

        You don’t have to bike all the way to work. I have a friend who lives in Ladner, close to Tsawassen and she drives with her bike to cross the tunnel, parks, and then bikes to work. She likes the exercise.
        Pick a half (or full) marathon, a big fondo, or something you like and would keep you motivated for training. There are even clinics for many of the events, the problem is finding time. That’s why I use my commute time as my training/workout time. I saw Veenstra running to work today btw, it must be ~20km!

  • Reply
    Mr. Tako
    September 29, 2017 at 2:53 am

    Good luck Bob! But I’m curious, how did you reconcile this new enthusiasm for fitness with your family?

    Are they supportive of this endeavor or are they going to be “left behind”? I’m asking because I find it equally hard to leave a family behind, and wondered how you manage it.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      September 29, 2017 at 9:10 am

      Mrs. T is very supportive when it comes to this kid of stuff. She has been getting more active as well by going to zumba classes.

  • Reply
    Money Miser
    September 29, 2017 at 9:05 am

    Not going to lie you’re not selling the notion of having children to me at all. Sounds like you used to have an awesome life of adventure that you had to give up to stay home every weekend and help with parenting, while watching everybody else have fun?

    Mrs. Miser and I frequently discuss if we will ever have kids and we both lean (and have always leaned) towards not having any. I know it’s kind of selfish only thinking about how it affects you, but at the end of the day it’s our lives and we want to enjoy it. Kids seem to just become a constant obstacle at a period in your lives where you are most equipped to go out and experience the world.

    The only downfall to not having kids is that I think we will get lonely as we age to the extent we want family around in our 60s, 70s and 80s. I’m sure we can live with that though.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      September 30, 2017 at 4:13 pm

      Sorry if I didn’t make having kids all that attractive. Don’t give me wrong, having kids has been so rewarding I wouldn’t trade it for something else. A number of my friends that don’t have kids have slowed down when it comes to outdoor adventures. Having kids wasn’t the only reason why I have spent less time outside lately. 🙂

  • Reply
    Oldster
    September 29, 2017 at 9:24 am

    Time = Money. Health = Time, so Health = Money. Can’t escape the logic. You are on the right path here, Bob. Catching the slow slide down hill before it gains too much momentum is a huge long-term win for you and your family.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      September 29, 2017 at 10:33 pm

      So very true. 🙂

  • Reply
    Jing
    September 29, 2017 at 11:49 am

    Climbing is my favorite activity, I go about 2-3 times a week for 2-3 hours. It’s a great way to build up muscle tone for someone who gets bored by traditional workouts! My metabolism hasn’t slowed down yet though, so this is more preventative and for fun 🙂 I have no idea how I’d do any of that with kids! But I do see a cute couple at the gym who always bring their toddler. It’s super cute, he’s the baby of the gym and everyone looks out for him!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      September 29, 2017 at 7:32 pm

      Agree that climbing is a great way to build up muscle tone. Wish I have more time to spend at climbing gym nowadays.

  • Reply
    Dividend Diplomats
    September 29, 2017 at 8:23 pm

    I disagree that this post has nothing to do with financial independence. Your equation in the middle proves why it is important. PArt of FI is being happy and enjoying every day. If working out/improved health is a part of that, then it is an important part of FI. I’ve never been a gym rat and when life gets busy, I typically drop the gym from my routine first. I know I need to get better about working out and eating healthier; however, until I find a more regular schedule, I think it will be hard for me to pull it off. But there is always hope haha

    Best of luck maintaining your routine. If you are as motivated as you sound, I’m sure that you will be able to make it work for you.

    Take care,

    Bert

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      September 29, 2017 at 10:34 pm

      It’s too bad that we naturally drop gym from the routine first when life gets busy. I think we all can improve by becoming more active.

  • Reply
    Chris @ Mindful Explorer
    September 30, 2017 at 11:49 am

    Get after it man ! You got this
    You are in the mecca of outdoor playgrounds. As for the kids challenge yourself to create activities that include them. On the topic of thinking you are leaving the wife at home, develop a schedule where you are each getting time away from the house to get outdoors and to focus on health and fitness at the same time. Team work between the two of you while challenging each other via accountability will see you successful.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      September 30, 2017 at 4:16 pm

      Great tip on creating activities that include the kids. Will have to incorporate that idea. 🙂

  • Reply
    wealth from thirty
    October 1, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    Love going to the gym. I haven’t been often in the last month – it seems to be the first thing that gets cut when my schedule gets a bit hectic. But I’d love to be more consistent for the rest of the year. It’s taken me a few years to realise, but as my metabolism seems to slow down eating healthier is becoming more and more important in battle against chub. ha. Good luck getting a little leaner Bob.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      October 1, 2017 at 9:33 pm

      Yup I feel that my metabolism is slowing down a bit, so eating healthier is definitely getting more and more important.

  • Reply
    Mr. SSC
    October 3, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    I hear you about trying to stay fit with kids. It’s difficult finding time. I found that signing up for races inspires me to work out so that they “won’t suck as bad” when I’m competing, lol. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not actually racing, I just have my own times I’m racing against. It does keep me motivated on days/weeks when I just don’t feel like exercising after work.

    Morning isn’t an option for me because I’m already waking up at 5:10am so I can work from ~6-3:30 schedule. Add in picking up and feeding the kids and I get “free” to work out around 7pm or later. It’s tough for sure.

    Good luck with your schedule!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      October 4, 2017 at 3:53 pm

      That’s a good idea signing up races and compete against your own times.

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