Friday, December 30, 2011

Diets are for fit people!

If you’re following this blog,  you’ll see my progress as I go from tubby to fit. With this in mind you should know a little bit more about my diet and fitness goals.
When I started lifting weights, I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t change a thing about my diet.  I’m a fat middle aged guy and I have very few joys in life to look forward to. Eating is very important to me.
But exercising and weight lifting have changed my diet in ways that have amazed me. I’m learning that some life changes are spontaneous when you start doing healthy things, like say, exercise.
But again, I didn’t start lifting to become healthier or to lose weight or to look more fit. Those are all things that are happening to me, but they aren’t reasons for the workout.  I work out with weights because it feels so good! I started lifting during a very stressful time in my life that blogged about earlier,  and the weight lifting made me feel  soo much better.
So with all that in mind, here are my new diet rules.
1.       If you’re a cow, I’m going to eat you. That’s just the way it is. I love steak and other cow meats, and I’m not giving them up, for nobody or for no one.
2.       If you’re a chicken you better be able to run faster than me at lunch time.
3.       If you’re a pig, give it up for the bacon and the ribs! And save me a ham sandwich.
4.       Mrs. Hostess is calling. Can you hear her? “Ding dong, ding dong”
5.       Cola drinks are from God. Nothing that tastes that great and makes you feel that good could possibly be bad for you.
6.       Chocolate is, holy cow, it's just that, you see, we've just got to, especially dark chocolate. You know that one place at the mall that makes chocolates? We've just got to eat chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate.
Apart from those rules, I’ve had a very interesting diet experience that is the direct result of my weight lifting.
My desire to drink sodas is gone. I’m drinking more water instead. No one told me to do this, it’s just what my body craves.
I’m fine with just one cookie when cookies are offered. I don’t have to sneak and eat ten or twelve, and then blame the kids.
I don’t need late night snacks.
I don’t need seconds.
I take home a box of left overs when I eat out at restaurants (instead of finishing everyone else’s meal)
Meals don’t have to have dessert.
I could go on and on.
The point is, I’m eating healthier, and it’s spontaneous. My healthy body craves healthy eating habits.
I want to follow this post up with a new post about education, and I’ll do that next.

joining Technorati


I’m still tubby!

In fact, I’m probably a little tubbier.
That’s okay, Christmas is a wonderful thing. Chocolate, roasts, chocolate, candies of all kinds, chocolate, casseroles, etc.
I’m certainly not going to be the one who abstains. So how do we reconcile our desire for physical fitness with the bounty of Christmas feasts?
We don’t. Who cares? I’m not exercising to lose weight or look better. I’m exercising because it feels so good. So I’m right back at it. Christmas isn’t a set back at all.
So let’s talk about some nuts and bolts. We were talking back a few posts about how I came across my son’s weight bench and weights and put it all together.
Now I’ve got a common weight bench and a barbell and a curl bar and some dumbbells. They’re all arranged in the corner of our storage room in our basement.
That’s all I need. I knew it from the beginning. I had everything I needed for a weight lifting experience.
Bench presses are the most obvious. The barbell rests permanently on the bench press rack and I keep as much weight on it as I can lift. I don’t move weights around from apparatus to apparatus, and I’ll explain why later. But bench presses are simple and straight forward and easy to figure out.
I had an easy curl bar. I love that bar. I keep it loaded up with as much weight as I can curl, but there’s something about that bar that inspires courage. When I feel like I can’t do any more exercise, I can always do more curls on that bar, and then I feel like I can move on to other exercises. I highly recommend an easy curl bar.
On the weight bench is a leg curl, or leg lift apparatus. I faithfully work my legs with that machine, though I’ve seen very little information about whether they are very good machines or not.
Finally, I have dumbbells. If you can get no other weight apparatus, get dumbbells. You can do almost any exercise with dumbbells that you can do with a barbell. Dumbbells are less stable than barbells and therefore make you work harder to steady them. In short, dumbbells are great. Even if you only have one dumbbell, there are countless exercises you can do with it.
Later we’ll talk about exactly what exercises I’m doing, and with how much weight.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Why don’t I go to the gym?

It’s a good question.
There’s some philosophical thinking in the answer to this question.
To start, I have to say that I absolutely WILL go to the gym soon. My weight lifting experience has evolved to the point where I really would like some guidance from an expert.
But there are problems at that gym. At least for some of us.  The atmosphere and attitude at the gym can be off setting. There are people at the gym who are very successful and ambitious about their workouts. It can be intimidating. I know that we shouldn’t judge ourselves against others, but it can really take away your appetite.
I will say that I believe that once you jump in, the discomfort will dissipate, and you’ll feel right at home. At least I hope that’s how it will be, because I intend to find out.
But for others of us, the expense, the travel time, the inconvenience, all are reasons for us to seek fitness in our own homes. It was certainly this way for me. I was facing extreme financial challenges when I began my workout program. I didn’t even buy new weights, as I explained in an earlier post. Since I had no agenda, no goal of health or fitness, I relished the privacy of that little corner of our basement storage room. My workout was strictly my own, and I made all the rules.
This manner of working out on my own became a magical experience. I’ll talk later about how I learned more about weight lifting and how my routine evolved, but I’ll say here that I was immediately amazed at how the work I was doing intuitively turned out very close to what many trainers would have told me to do. That is very significant to me.
From the very start, I’ve done exactly what seemed to feel right and feel good. I’ve challenged myself, but I haven’t’ sought to kill myself. I’ve tried to maintain a level of work and heart rate, I’ve tried to stretch and warm up and I’ve kept myself hydrated. I’ve notice if a particular exercise bothered a joint or muscle or tendon, and I’ve moved those exercises to a different slot in the lineup. In only a couple of weeks I had a really good workout program and list of exercises that I liked to do. I would sweat like a pig and my heart pounded in my chest. It felt really, really good.
We’ll go into detail about my actual workout next.
But the point here is that I accomplished a truly satisfying and effective working in a corner of a storage room in the privacy of my own home with second hand weights.
Yes, I’d like better equipment and a larger space for my exercise. Yes, I’m going to go to the gym and seek some expert training.
All this will be documented as a part of this blog, as will my trip to the doctor for medical advice.  The message I hope to convey is that you, the tubby middle aged person, can challenge your tubbiness, become more fit, look better, feel better, and have lots and lots of fun in the process.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


This seems like a funny place to talk about results, since I just told about my introduction to working out with free weights.  We’ll talk frequently about results, but there are some fairly immediate results I experienced that need to be mentioned.
I’m going to say this so many times that it’s going to seem crazy, but the first good result that came from my free weight workout routine is that it was fun, and it felt great. And I’m not talking about the good feeling you get from accomplishing a difficult goal. I’m talking about back rub good, and hot tub good.
I feel like a weight lifter. I have a hobby that is making me more fit every day. Even after a very short time working out with the weights, I began to notice results. My double chin started to go away. My arms started to grow and define. My shoulders got bigger.
One thing that didn’t change right away is my belly.  That took some know-how. We’ll talk about that later.
But remember, I didn’t get involved in lifting weights so that I could lose my belly. I didn’t it because it was fun and it felt good.
Very soon after I started I could bound up the stairs without huffing and puffing. I could get off the couch without straining. My posture immediately improved. I no longer lean on grocery carts. I stand up straight and push them.
My diet changed. That will be an entire blog entry by itself. But my cravings for certain things vanished, and my tendency to over eat went away.
My stress level dropped. I was happier. I didn’t worry about things. I had more focus.
Of course, there were negative results as well. No one wants to hear a pudgy middle-aged man talk about his new found enthusiasm for weight lifting, and I was excited to talk about it. I had to come to grips about the way the world sees tubby middle aged men, and that’s another blog entry too.
Next we’ll talk about how I learned the nuts and bolts and technical procedures of weight lifting. It’s all about education.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What happened next! The ball gets rolling.

I’ve been brave about putting up “before” pictures. I hope they will be of some use. Soon I will be posting “during” picture of my workouts, and also some video.
But, onto what happened next:
Everything that has happened since that day when I put together that old weight bench has been intuitive.  I have executed exercise and workouts that felt right. I have done it all in a manner, timeline, and schedule that simply felt right.
That first day was so much fun that I decided to continue in that theme. I would only workout for fun and pleasure. Everything I did had to fit that mold. Funny how everything worked out to be in line with what experts would have told me to do anyway.
I learned that the “burn” that resulted from my workouts lasted for two days, so I resolved to work out every other day.
I start to consider my equipment. I had a standard bench with a leg lift thingy attachment. I had a barbell, and a curl bar, and two dumbbells. I liked moving quickly from one exercise to another. Dumbbell curls to bench presses to dumbbell presses to curls with the curl bar. Right away I noticed that it was annoying to have to change the weight plates on the bars every time I switched exercises. So I started shopping for more weight plates.
In my community there is a chain of thrift stores called Deseret Industries. The “D.I.” for short. You mostly find clothing at the D.I., but they have an “outdoor” section where you can find gardening equipment and sporting goods. I’m always on the lookout for weights and weight lifting equipment. I’ve been able to find plates that match my set. Now I have the weight I need on each apparatus without having to change between sets. As the amounts I’m lifting increases, I shop for more weights.
If there was only one weight lifting apparatus that I could recommend it would be a set of dumbbells. Any exercise with dumbbells is great! And most barbell exercises can be done with dumbbells in an very similar execution. Dumbbells are unstable, so they promote balance and grip. When you work with dumbbells, you immediately get a sense of accomplishment.
I like my curl bar because it is very straight-forward. Whenever I’m feeling like my workout is overwhelming, I move to sets of curls on the curl bar. It’s stable and easy to work with. I crank out a set and start to feel like I can continue with my routine.
We’ll talk later about specific parts of my workout equipment.
After the first few days of my program I was becoming a true weight lifter, and I had a definite workout program.

Monday, December 12, 2011

FREE WEIGHTS! This post is about free weights.

Searching for exercise equipment felt right until my friend Dan called one night to chat. I told him my story and how I felt the urge to exercise. Dan said that my idea was all wrong because I have a finished basement and carport. I have no place to stash exercise equipment where I can’t see it.
Dan was right. I was kidding myself.  I had no real interest in cables and pulleys and whirring machines.
Then one day I was cleaning out my garage when I came across my son’s old weight bench.  I pulled it out, dusted it off, and set it up.
I put together the dumbbells and the barbell with different amounts of weights. I started experimenting and playing around.  Suddenly I was having a ball! I was alone so I wasn’t trying to kill myself to impress anyone.  
I tried different amounts of weight on each apparatus until the exercises really felt good.
I played around with the weights and the bench for about an hour. I didn’t know anything about weight lifting exercises, but I tried everything that seemed obvious.  After I was finished I felt really great. I really had fun.  I knew that I had discovered a new hobby.
The next day I still felt great. I could really feel a burning in my muscles, but I wasn’t aching or in pain as I have been in the past when I’ve worked out too vigorously. I just felt a chill and a glow all over. I cleaned out a corner of a storage room in our basement, and set the weigh bench up permanently.
I was on my way.
I didn’t work out the second day because of the time it took me to get everything set up. But the following day, I thought about working out as soon as I woke up. I looked at my day’s schedule and found my free half hour and actually felt excited about my upcoming workout.
We’ll talk about how the process developed next.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Job stress!

My story continues....
After my humiliating on the track at the ball field, I resolved to improve. And I did improve, little by little. I went to the track every time I could, at least every other day, and I kept track of how far I ran. Each time it was a little farther. Each time there were smiles and giggles from the other runners.
"Hey look! The fat guy's running again!"
They might not have actually said it, but they were thinking it.
After a few months I was jogging like a pro. It felt great. I couldn't run for miles like other joggers, but I could go around that track a few times. Yes, I had to stop frequently and walk, but each time was better.
Funny thing though, I didn't lose weight or size. I felt great, I knew I was improving my health, but my size remained the same.
Like many ventures into the world of exercise, mine ended after little more than a year. More and more reasons kept popping up to keep me from the track, and I found a great new burger place, and the couch seemed to miss me.

So now the real story begins.
Flash forward to this year.
My daughter married her boyfriend in January. Beautiful occasion, but very stressful. My daughter and I were very close, and it was hard to see her go.
My weight had become a real concern.
At work the atmosphere was oppressive.
One day I wore tight slacks to work. They hurt my kidneys. I didn't wear tight slacks because I thought it was stylish, I wore them because I was too cheep to buy new slacks after gaining more weight.
That day, that terrible tight slacks day, my boss called me into his office.
He was unhappy with me in many horrible, personal ways. It was like a nightmare. Our little chat was humiliating, insulting, and terrifying.
How would I support my family if I lost my job?
I knew my weight made me look even more pathetic.
The issues with my boss were resolved, but the tension at work remained.
It was killing me.
At home, my wife and family were very supportive. We talked a lot about what we could and what we should do.
One of the things I absolutely craved was physical activity. My wife suggested I go for walks. It didn't help.
I started browsing the sporting good stores for exercise equipment.
It was then that I made a discover that would change my life.
We'll talk about that next.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

My Story:


I guess I haven't always been tubby.
There were times in my youth when I was absolutely fit and athletic.
Then I got married and had a family and discovered couch sitting and Fatboy ice cream sandwiches.
Tubbyness creeps up on you without notice.
But one day, there it is, in the bathroom mirror after a shower.
You're repulsed.
You're nauseated.
You want to cry.
You stand sideways and suck in your gut. You stand taller and suck in your gut. You hold very still, smile, and suck in your gut.
But there's no hiding from the truth.
And the truth is fat.
A few years ago, I was more than just tubby. I was stressed. Trouble at work, trouble at home, lot's of problems. Finally one day I had an experience that many folks my age have had.
Crushing chest pains. Brought me right to my knees. Thought I was dying.
The doctor put me through ever imagineable test.
GOOD NEWS! My heart was fine. But I was still tubby. My doctor warned me that without a significant loss of weight, my heart would someday have problems.
What to do? I thought a lot about it.
Near my home was a ball field with a mile long track around the perimeter. I thought that walking would be a good idea. So I went and walked.
But other people were running. It occurred to me that running and jogging were what fit and healthy people did, and I decided that running might save my life. So I picked up my knees and started to jog.
That lasted about twenty yards. My knees hurt, my chest hurt, and my back ached. I was out of breath and thought I was going to passout.
Twenty yards.
I was passed by a little old grandma. She laughed at me. All the people who passed me sniggered. I felt great pressure to do better.
To be continued.........

I really was a middle aged tub of lard!

I probably still am.
I saw a friend at a recent high school event. Like me, this friend was there supporting his high school kids.
My friend is a career military man, and he's in top physical form! I commented to my wife that my goal is to look like Troy one day. She told me that she understood my goal, but she pointed out that Troy has ALWAYS been in top physical shape, and I've been tubby since the mid nineties.
It's going to take some time.
Exercise programs on tv tell me that I can get "ripped" in just a few weeks.
But what I've been learning this year is another way.
What I've been doing has changed my life in many ways. My experience is permanent. I'm not punishing myself, I'm rewarding myself. I still have some bad habits to overcome, but my motivation is more clear every day.
My body is changing, my priorities are changing, my schedule is changing, and the way I live my life is changing. I've been excited and happy about life again. Even through some really hard trials this year, my new experience has made me feel like things are going my way.
I'm going to explain it all, and with pictures and videos. This probably isn't an program you can follow, but I'll bet that what I've discovered can TRULY inspire you.