Blog Archives

Getting Fit: God Is In The Details

I recently posted that the biggest hurdle to getting fit will be getting up and just doing it. I said that you need to keep your goals simple. I would like to elaborate on this a bit more. When starting out you just want to get moving, get your heart beating and get into a rhythm of exercising consistently but in order to get truly fit you’ll need to put more effort into it. Your exercise sessions must be vigorous, they should make you breath hard and sweat.

After a few weeks of getting moving you’ll want to establish simple goals to help you along the path. For most of you the goal will be to lose weight. To accomplish this faster I would stay away from adding a heavy weight lifting routine any time soon. Stick to cardio exercises and do simple strength building exercises like sit ups, leg lifts, squats and push ups. Heavy weight lifting will build muscle and burn fat, but it will be hard to notice your progress when you step on the scale and weigh more or less the same every week. Even though close examination of yourself in a mirror will show otherwise this lack of “scale affirmation” can be very discouraging for some people. If you understand this and are comfortable with it, then working your way into a couple of days of heavy weight lifting every week is a great idea.

For others the goal is simply to feel healthier. This is easily accomplished with just 20 minutes of vigorous exercise 5 days a week and watching what you eat. 30 minutes a day is better.

It’s a mental game as well and to be honest I still dread working out and sometimes have to force myself to but I always feel a euphoria after I’m finished. To accomplish my weight loss goals faster I worked out best in 2-3 week cycles of balls to the wall, vigorous exercising 5-6 days a week, 1-2 hours a day. Then I’d slow it down for a few weeks (sometimes longer). Weight training once every 3 days with a 1/2 an hour of cardio in between. It worked for me. You have to find what works for you. If all you can muster is 20 minutes every other day then that’s better than nothing; just make those 20 minutes count each and every time.

I kept a journal to record my efforts and make note of my daily calories. I weighed myself every three weeks or so (naked, in the morning, after my bowels had “evacuated”). I had my wife take front, back and side pics of me every 3-6 months so I could see the progress. These things helped me stay focused. I don’t keep such a detailed journal these days but I do make note of the amount of time I spend exercising each week and what type of exercise I did. I take mental note of the calories I intake and keep to about 2,000 a day. I hover in between 162 lbs. and 167 lbs. and I don’t freak out if I hit 170 lbs. (like I did over the holidays). I just start counting the calories again and hit the gym a little harder for a bit.

My current cycle involves 2 weight training days a week, usually Monday and Thursday, for about an hour, and half an hour of cardio (treadmill, 1.0 incline 5.5 speed) on the other days with one or two days off a week. I’m feeling pretty healthy, my body mass has more muscle than fat, I’d like to get rid of this tire from around my stomach but I’ve been spending more time writing fiction so I’ll probably keep this schedule for a while and pay closer attention to my calories.

THE COUNTING CALORIES CAVEATS
If you decide to take on short but heavy spurts of exercising like I did be sure to be eating properly during these times. You will need the food for energy. I remember reading a Huffington Post story about a gym that was serving pizza and donuts one morning. The article was ill researched and misleading. Obviously, for those that are extremely overweight the idea of pizza and donuts is a Devil’s deal and is best avoided until you have your weight under control. If you’re going to the gym and doing the “look at me in my Juicy Couture sweat pants while I casually walk on this treadmill and check out my stock portfolio on my iPad for 1/2 an hour” routine then pizza and donuts may not be a good idea for you either. But if you show up to the gym at 5am and do the “balls to the wall, screaming bloody murder as your muscles rip apart from the stress” workout till 6am then a couple of slices of pizza for breakfast is not only what you deserve, it’s what you need.

Reward yourself during the process. If you lost 5 pounds last month it’s OK to take a day or two off from exercising and calorie counting. Go out and eat and don’t worry about the calories, enjoy yourself. The whole point of getting fit is to feel better about yourself, to just feel better overall and enjoy your life. If you’re stressing over how many calories that Outback steak has you’re not really enjoying yourself are you? Much has been made recently about the amount of calories in your favorite restaurant’s dishes, I say fuck it. Go out and eat and bloody well enjoy yourself. To compensate for the extra calories simply eat fruit for breakfast and lunch or plan to work out for an extra hour on the weekend; or do both.

PULLING IT ALL TOGETHER WITH NO PRESSURE
I’m a firm believer that stress kills. Stress is your enemy. So relax a bit and stop stressing, nothing is worth you stressing out. You’re going to have your bad days. I had plenty of them. I sometimes went a week without counting calories, barely working out and polishing off a whole Entenmann’s cake in a couple of hours. When Graham got sick and passed away I stopped for months. But I got back into it and you must as well. I just want you to know it’s OK to let the process slip every now and then. When this happens don’t tell yourself you’re going to get back into it, you’ll just be lying to yourself. Just know you’re going to get back into it. Ride out the minor wave of depression that has you in a funk however you need to and then one morning when you wake up just do it. Don’t think about doing it, just get back out there and start exercising again.

RESOURCES TO HELP YOU

  • Calorie Calculator – Lets you know how exactly many calories you need per day to achieve your target weight with and without exercise.
  • a Calorie Counter – Search a Calorie Counter for a food to see its full nutritional content.
  • Calorie Counter – Another free site to find the nutritional content of that slice of pizza you just ate.
  • ExRx.Net – A wealth of information on everything from dieting to the proper form of exercises.
  • Bodybuilding at About.com – Bodybuilding and fitness advice by Hugo Rivera.
  • OutlawMuscle Forum – Most bodybuilding forums are filled with narcissistic, steroid agitated, hormone raging obnoxious teens. OutlawMuscle is different, if you have questions about exercising and bodybuilding ask them here.

Getting fit: Counting Calories

Counting calories and eating healthier is another step you need to take to get fit. I’m not saying you should take all the enjoyment out of life but certain key changes to your diet will help out immensely. Cutting out soda helped me loose weight A LOT faster, I still enjoy a Coke every now and then but H2O is my main source of hydration these days. You can still have your cake and yes, you can eat it too; just make sure your are eating no more than 1800 calories a day. 2300-2500 calories if you’re exercising for 1/2 an hour or more every day. Counting calories is really important, I can’t stress this enough.

I have a different take on dieting than most. Fuck rice cakes and salads sans dressing. Fuck magic pills and expensive empty promises. I think you should be able to eat whatever you want, meat, starch, pie, cake; just don’t eat more than what you intend to burn off exercising. Try to stay away from empty calories, that is food that has a lot of calories but will not fill you up. Soda falls into this category. Of course to lose more weight faster you will want to pay closer attention to what you’re eating like I did for about 6 months. I ate more meat and chicken and less potatoes and side dishes, I’d forgo bread and butter. But once I lost 15+ pounds I loosened up my rules a bit and started to enjoy food again, all the while counting calories and adjusting my workouts to compensate. If I came close to 3000 calories I would work out for 1 1/2 hours, sometimes 2 hours, if not that day then the next.

Just do it. 1800 calories a day and 20 minutes of exercise 5 days a week and you should be able to shave off a pound or more a week. Most of you will find that you’ll start looking forward to your exercising time. Some of you may even increase it to 30 minutes or 45 minutes. Others may find that doing an hour every other day fits their schedule better. Do what works for you. Keep your goals simple. In the beginning you just want to get yourself moving.

At first this process can seem a bit tedious but after a while counting calories will come naturally to you as you become more familiar with the calorie content of the foods you tend to eat. You’ll have a rough idea of how many calories are in that slice of pizza you’re eating and it will be easier to keep a mental tab of what you eat during the day.

RESOURCES TO HELP YOU

  • Calorie Calculator – Lets you know how exactly many calories you need per day to achieve your target weight with and without exercise.
  • a Calorie Counter – Search a Calorie Counter for a food to see its full nutritional content.
  • Calorie Counter – Another free site to find the nutritional content of that slice of pizza you just ate.

Getting fit is as easy as getting started.

A few years back I saw myself in a picture and realized I was turning into a sad overweight middle aged male. The only saving grace was that I was not balding, which wasn’t much of one seeing that I buzz cut my hair every 3-6 months. I weighed about 200 pounds and one push up would tire me. I needed to get myself in better shape.

I started out by going for jogs/walks with our newly adopted dog, Graham. It was more walk than jog at first. I never liked running, I used to tell people that if they saw me running they should probably start running too. Not because I’m a bad ass that fears nothing but because I was a lazy ass who would rather take a severe beat down instead of running away from it. If something had me scared enough to overcome my disdain for physical activity it would probably be prudent for them to follow suit!

Because I was spending 1-2 hours every day trying to kill 500 calories I eventually usurped my aversion to running and was spending 1 hour or less a day trying to kill 500 calories. We bought a Weider Total Body Works 5000 Gym (a less expensive Total Gym) and I started using it 2 or 3 times a week. I also started counting my calories. Physical fitness was not new to me. In my late teens and early 20′s I was into bodybuilding. Because I knew what I was doing and I knew what to expect, getting healthy again at 40 was not that hard.

Remember the Nike “Just Do It” ad campaign? That’s what it boils down to. You just have to get up and do it. It will be your biggest hurdle. If you dread all physical activity start with 20 minutes every other day with something as simple as walking on a treadmill and watch TV or read a book to “ease the pain”. I’ll be honest with you, just walking everyday (unless you’re hiking mountain trails for an hour or two) will not cut it. If you’re going to spend just 20 minutes every other day exercising, make those 20 minutes count. After a week start jogging lightly for those 20 minutes instead of just walking. After a couple more weeks start jogging faster, try for 2 miles in under 20 minutes. Work your way into exercising 20 minutes 5 days a week. You can do 3 days of cardio mixed in with 2 days of light muscle exercises like push ups, sit ups, leg lifts, and squats and take the weekends off.

Stay away from exercises and activities you do not enjoy. If you don’t like jogging and have access to an elliptical trainer, try that instead. If you don’t like doing lunges, don’t do them. Stay away from activities that will discourage you from just doing it. Some things are unavoidable though. There is no better chest exercise than a push up, no better abdominal exercises than sit ups and leg lifts. I tried doing planks but I’d rather be moving for 2-5 minutes, I’ll occasionally switch up my routines and throw some planks in but for the most part they bore me so I stay away from them (and lunges, I hate lunges).

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 172 other followers