How home improvement is helping me shed pounds

July 17, 2013 | By | Comments (5)

I’m Patrick. Right now I’m the only one on the Social Diet “board of advisors” who does not work at a magazine devoted to cooking, food, and healthy living. But I am married to someone who does (Ann, who’s in charge of all the food editorial at Cooking Light). I am 44, I drink a lot of coffee, I enjoy home improvement and building, and I really love chocolate.  Professionally, I am a nurse, but since I only work Saturday and Sunday of each week—something called a Baylor shift—I feel it is more honest to say I am a stay-at-home dad with twin 7-year-old boys.

Over the years, I have slowly gained weight, owing mostly to a 2-year stint working the completely disruptive night shift, along with some exhausted-but-happy new-parent food indulgence. I found myself at 185-190 pounds needing to lose about 20 pounds or grow 4 inches taller.

Sometime after the pressure and guilt of this year’s annual New Year’s resolution had worn off, I decided,  for real, to become more active and to try to improve my diet. Then along came the social diet, and I got an UP band to monitor my exercise. (Actually, I have 2 Up bands, but one is in a creek, or in a fish in a creek, that runs to the Gulf of Mexico). And that’s how I discovered my own definition of cross-training: lots of home improvement, with a bit of running in between.

Before it floated away, my first UP band logged me 24,000 steps (12 miles) when I mowed my brother’s huge yard in Mississippi—and I think that number is accurate. I realized then that I have more motivation for fitness if I am doing at least two things at once (e.g. cutting grass and getting a cardio workout). My favorite workouts involve hauling dirt and crossties, building a raised-bed garden, carrying lumber, digging holes, and hammering nails for a deck and a pergola. It’s hard work, both muscle and lung work, and it has taught me that although boredom is my enemy in ordinary fitness routines, a good variety of projects will easily defeat that enemy.

With the kids being out of school for the summer, my “me time” has been shortened from every morning and early afternoon to just an occasional outing when I can drop the kids off at Ann’s work. That’s when I do my other training: I meet a trail-running group at a local park that was carved from reclaimed iron ore mining land, or I meet for a run downtown in support of a charity (usually, there’s a free local beer at the finish line).

It’s working. I’ve lost more than 10 pounds. Meanwhile, there’s a big side benefit to my cross-training approach: As I get in better shape, our house becomes a better house; as I find more to do in Birmingham, it becomes a better place to live. The support of the Social Diet group keeps me motivated, and the Up band is always there to remind me that keyboard strokes aren’t the way to reach my goal…

Enough typing: I need to go chop some wood and dig a firepit for a barbecue.

Would you like to join our weight loss project? Set goals, share ups and downs, and let us know what works for you.  Comment here, email and tweet @Cooking_Light using #SocialDiet.


  1. Social Diet Weekly Weigh-In: September 6 – Simmer and Boil | Cooking Light

    […] Patrick Pittman: Lost 20 pounds since start of diet; lost 1 pound this week. […]

    September 6, 2013 at 4:08 pm
  2. Social Diet Weekly Weigh-In: August 23, 2013 – Simmer and Boil | Cooking Light

    […] Patrick Pittman: Lost 19 pounds since start of diet; lost 2 pounds this week. […]

    August 23, 2013 at 3:08 pm
  3. See how many pounds the Cooking Light Social Dieters have lost – Simmer and Boil | Cooking Light

    […] Patrick Pittman: Lost 17 pounds since start of diet; lost 0 pounds this week. […]

    August 16, 2013 at 4:57 pm
  4. Aniway Veridiano

    Doing home improvement activities is really a good way to lose some pounds.

    July 24, 2013 at 8:33 am
  5. The #SocialDiet Board of Directors – Simmer and Boil | Cooking Light

    […] Patrick Pittman Patrick Pittman is 44, went to nursing school for his midlife crisis, works in an ICU in Birmingham, and takes care of twin 7-year-old boys during the week.  He played soccer nearly all his life, but stopped when the twins arrived. While he doesn’t miss the competition, he wants to be back in shape and just healthier in general. People think of him as patient, but he really thrives on quick, noticeable results. […]

    July 19, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s