Sunday, January 29, 2012

No, I can’t help you develop your abs.

How did we ever get here? Those of us with big bellies, I mean.
Well, if we really think about it, we all know the answer. We got here little by little. A little ice cream, a little more ice cream, some cookies, a nap on the couch instead of basketball with your friends, and thousands of hamburgers.
All that adds up to, my belly. That’s been a very difficult for me since starting this workout program.
People have so many stupid ideas about weight loss and fitness. Many of these people actually get their ideas out there on the television. So here we are, no longer in our twenties, bellies protruding, and the television is telling us that we could look like the guy with the twenty inch waist and the sculpted abs and his pants pulled down below his hips, and all in just  two to six weeks.
Just as bad is our neighbor who warns us that sit ups can cause a pot belly. Who ever heard of that? Did you ever hear anybody say: “yea, my belly has REALLY grown bigger since I’ve started doing sit ups!”????
Just keep being active. Be faithful to whatever physical activity appeals to you. Keep working out. Give it time. You’ll see results.
I get frustrated when I see that my belly is still there. But then I remember that I haven’t really been very good with my diet yet, and that I’m 47  years old, and that I’ve had a big belly for years and years. I got here little by little for a very long time, and it just makes sense that I’ll have to get out of this situation little by little over years of time.
That’s what I want. I don’t want fast, dramatic results that will be very hard to maintain. I want permanent habits and a familiar lifestyle. I’m learning to enjoy exercise. That’s why I got started, and that’s why I’m going to continue. If my belly goes away in the process, I’ll be thrilled. If not, I’ll get a job as Santa Claus at the mall. But I’ll be a very fit, healthy and happy Santa Claus.

Monday, January 23, 2012

How long will this take?

Ads for fitness programs and equipment on television give us the idea that sculpted abs and bulging biceps are just a few weeks away.
Possible? I don’t know. And I don’t care.
But I have been interested to learn the opinions of experts in the fields of exercise and fitness. These true opinions are hard to find. But my favorite experts all have shared thoughts about how much time it should take to develop that dream body.
Funny how right now the one thing everybody wants is a well-defined, tapered abdomen.  What about strong legs, or a powerful back? I don’t know, but I would think that over all fitness should be the goal.
I like two things that Mike Chang has said.
First: If you get your entire body in shape, your abs will follow. You don’t need to “focus” on your abs.
Second: When you see someone on television or on tv that is in peak physical condition, they haven’t achieved this in just a few weeks. They look good because of years of good habits, proper diet, and lots of exercise.
Mike’s sarcastic answer to “How long should this take?” is: You should look pretty good after ten years.
The message is this: Make fitness a lifelong habit. Don’t try to work yourself to death for a few weeks hoping to look like a sexy movie star. Is it possible? Mike says that yes, there is a fast track to a good body if you’re willing to work that hard. But I don’t believe that exercise schedules like that are maintainable. One day you’ll stop. One day you’ll quit.
Still, when you exercise, you expect results. How long did it take me to see results? I saw results immediately. I felt better after just a few days. One of the first things I noticed was my double chin disappearing. Then I noticed my biceps shaping up. I noticed my stamina increasing and my posture improving. I liked that, and it definitely motivated me to continue.
Other changes were more gradual. I noticed an overall sense of wellbeing. My appetite changed and my diet was affected. I didn’t crave soda and sweets like I did before. I stopped over eating. And there were more physical changes. My shoulders broadened and developed. My chest squared up.
But my belly is still big and it pokes out over my pants. Do I pay attention to exercises that work my core? Sure I do.  But I always remind myself that I am working out because it feels so good, and it’s fun, and I’m happy because I’m becoming more fit and healthy.  Give me some time and my belly will look better. In fact, I think I’m going to look better and better overall. I just have to keep believing.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Olympic Exercises

When I was a kid I always loved the weight lifting part of the Olympics. It was amazing to me to see those guys lift that incredible amount of weight over their heads. I loved how the bar bent and the cluster of weights at either end sagged as the exercise was executed.
My dad had a weight set and I would practice what I saw. I even got the neighborhood kids involved, organizing weightlifting competitions.
I could do them all. The “clean and press”, the “clean and jerk” and the “snatch”.
When I started my weight lifting routine last year, I never even considered doing any of the Olympic weight lifting exercises. Those routines are about massive amounts of weight, and are better left to stocky guys of Eastern European persuasion.
Or so I thought.
Then one day I was reading a book about weight lifting and fitness by the writers of Men’s Health Magazine that I had picked up at the library. They said that Olympic Exercises are perfect additions to anyone’s weight lifting routine. They are explosive exercises and are very healthy for the whole body, especially your core. The difference is that you work with a manageable amount of weight, and you don’t try to set Olympic or World weight lifting records.
They were right. I do barbell clean and presses and dumbbell clean and presses and I do the snatch and everything else. They are excellent exercises, and I highly recommend them.
I finish off my routine with leg curls, on that leg exercise thingy on my bench, and I do them face up and face down.
My favorite exercise of all is the one I end with. Dumbbell flies. I do them on the living room floor instead of on the bench for more stability. This is because I really like to do a lot of weight with the flies.
Some exercises, like flies and bench presses and curls, just plain feel manly. That’s okay. It’s important that your routine be a total body workout and that you work all your muscles, but it’s especially satisfying to work muscles that just make you feel manly.
Remember, I’m not advocating exercise as a path to fitness or health or fashion. I started lifting, and I continue to lift, strictly because it feels good. It’s fun, and it makes me happy. If working my pectoral or bicep muscles feels especially satisfying, then by all means I work extra weight and extra sets.
I believe working out is about rewarding ourselves and not punishing ourselves.

Monday, January 16, 2012

My first fitness video! Subject: Dealing with Macho!

It's still kind of rough.
But I'm working the bugs out of the process, and I want to put up a lot of these, because I believe the visual aspect of watching my transformation will be very helpful.
So, let me know what works and what doesn't.

A big part of my program is doing your workout at home. There are a lot of reasons for this, and we'll talk about all of them. In this video I talk about the discomfort some of us feel at the gym.
It's just not for me.
I do, however, think that the expert advise that you can only get at the gym is very important, and we'll find out how that all works into my plan when I make an appoint to workout with a professional trainer.
But for now I'm making great progress on my second hand weight bench in a spare bedroom in my own basement.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

My routine continued:

“Hey Darrell, are you still lifting those weights?” (grin grin, snicker snicker)
I swear, it’s every day.
We’ll talk about setbacks and road blocks later.
So, here’s more about what happens.
When last we talked, I was doing my warm up.
Sometimes I warm up with lighter weights.
I have two sets of dumbbells, one lighter and one heavier. As of this writing, the lighter ones are fifteen pounds and the heavier ones are thirty-five pounds. I believe in having lots of dumbbells, because they are the most used and most useful part of my set up. Dumbbells can replace barbells in most barbell exercises.
I also believe in having multiple sets of dumbbells and other equipment because I don’t like to take the time to change weight plates on the equipment. I am performing a circuit, or a complex. I don’t have time to rest or change the weight plates, so I have everything loaded exactly the way I want them. Then I move smoothly from one exercise to the next.
I am considering having a dedicated, single dumbbell with an extra heavy amount of weight on it for exercises like the clean and press.
Anyway, whether or not I have warmed up, I usually start with my light weight dumbbells. I have a flat bench where I do these exercises. I do pull overs and skull crushers and dumbbell flies and presses and curls.
Then I do triceps pull downs.  
If you are unfamiliar with those terms, I highly recommend that you look them up.
After the light weight exercises, I do two sets of bench presses. I do two set of all my favorite exercises.  Bench presses feel really good, and the results are immediate.
Next come the curl bar curls. Two sets of at least twenty five. The curl bar is a wonderful apparatus because it is stable and easy to grab and easy to work. The curl bar is inspiring. After my curl bar sets I feel like I can really  accomplish something good.
Next are my hanging crunches. These are among my few non-weight exercises. I have a pull-up bar in the door way, and I take time here to do the hanging crunches. I saw someone in the gym doing these, and I could tell that they brought instant results. I love them. I have great hopes for my mid-section now.  Pull-up bars are great, and you should really have one in your routine. If you couldn’t work with weights, but you COULD do pull-ups, you’d be in great shape.
This is all followed by a series of dumbbell exercises that you should look up.
Lawn mowers
Dumbbell Curls
Dumbbell Flies (heavy) (I do these lying on the floor instead of the bench, for more stability.)
Then I work my legs with the leg curl thingy. I do two sets face up, and two sets face down. Haven’t read much about these exercises, but most benches have this attachment, and I like the results.
Next we’ll talk about Olympic exercises.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Deep End: Viking TV

The Deep End: Viking TV

My Son-in-law is a famous cartoonist. This is one of his recent cartoons that will certainly become a favorite. Check his blog and his facebook page!

Monday, January 9, 2012

My Routine

I love my routine. I look forward to it every other day.
There, that’s the first thing to know about my routine, I do it every other day.
I decided on that schedule because it felt right. I liked the “burn” I felt the day after working out. Then I did some investigation and found out that lots of people work out with weights every other day, because weights cause what is sometimes called “the 48 hour burn”.  From what I gather, working out with weights burns calories for two days.
The next thing you should know about my routine is that I’m not a professional of any kind. I’m not a trainer, I’m not a therapist, and I’m not a doctor. I could be making lots of mistakes, and doing some things wrong. If you’re going to start a workout program of your own, SEEK OUT SOME PROFESSIONAL HELP. I’m just telling you what seems right to me right now. Later I’ll share some of the resources that have been helpful to me.
So here’s the actual routine:
I start by warming up and stretching. Jumping jacks, stretches, wind mills (from elementary school PE class) and windshield wipers (look it up) I’m mostly worried about my back (remember, I’m old) but I also don’t want to hurt my arms, elbow, or shoulders.
Then I hit my weights.
Here’s a couple of terms you hear a lot in weight lifting: “Three sets of eight”, and “reps to failure”.
As I studied weight lifting routines those two terms popped up again and again. I resist both of them.
I do two sets of 15 on most of my exercises. At least that’s my plan. Sometimes it’s one set of 50 reps. Sometimes it’s even one set of 15 reps. Depends on the exercise.
More importantly, I’m doing a kind of a circuit or complex.  Maybe I don’t do it completely right, but the point of my routine is that it lasts for 30 minutes to 45 minutes and I move from one exercise to the next with very little rest in between. If heart really starts pounding and I’m gasping for breath, I rest a little more, or even better, I drink a little water. I’ve learned that staying hydrated during my work out is better than resting.
I’ll need another entry to talk about specific exercises and equipment, but what’s important to say right now is that the feeling is EXHILLERATING! My muscles turn red and I am quickly soaked in sweat. It feels great!
Do I do reps to failure? This means doing reps until you absolutely can’t do another, and you’re lifting absolutely as much weight as you can. At first I didn’t think so. Sometimes I feel like I could squeeze out one more rep if I really tried, but I’m working out alone, and I don’t have a spotter, so I don’t like to risk it. But I’m doing as many reps as I can.
Do I lift as much weight as I can? Some of my detractors have told me that I need to be lifting the maximum weight possible.
Well for example, I’m sure that if I had a spotter, I could bench press more than I am currently pressing. But it would just be a couple of reps.  Right now I’m pressing as much as I can for 2 set of 15 reps without a spotter.
So I feel good about the maxims, “3 sets of 8”, and “reps to failure”

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Opposition. (these are true stories)

No one wants to hear about your new fitness program if you’re over forty.
When someone asks me: “What’s new??” I tell them that I’ve been working out.
That’s when they glaze over.
If I was young and handsome, then talking about exercise and fitness would be cool.  But that’s not my story.
So some people politely ask me if I mean that I’ve been jogging.
Maybe I’ve been going to the rec center to ride the elliptical machine?
I’ve been lifting weights.
That’s when they snicker and shake their heads and try to change the subject.
Later they’ll ask me sarcastically: “Still lifting those weights?”
True story:
Weights and benches and other related equipment really hasn’t been in my budget, so I’ve been watching the classified ads, and I’ve been frequenting a second hand store in our area called “Deseret Industries”
Recently I was at the D.I. and found a couple of great 25lb barbell plates. There was an old man looking them over, and when he saw that I was interested in the plates as well, he backed out of my way. As I picked them up to leave, he started to talk.
“Those are nice ones! I had a friend. I worked with him. He retired. After he retired he bought one of those. A real nice one. I think I remember that it was 300 lbs. Every morning he would jump out of bed and lift that thing into the air over his head and hold it there for several minutes. It worked great for him. He got real strong. Then one morning, he jumped out of bed, and threw that thing over his head into the air, and ……. CRACK!”
The old guy pointed to his knee.
“He hurt his knee?” I asked.
“No! His WHOLE body! CRACK! He broke his whole body!”
I’ve heard many crazy old men tell many crazy stories, so I didn’t mind asking.
“Did he go to the hospital?”
“No! CRACK! It killed him! He was DEAD!”
Yep if your over forty, you’d better not get involved in that weight lifting. Just as any crazy old man.
To heck with crazy old men, and to heck with rude turds who don’t want to hear about my new passion for weight lifting when they ask me what’s new in my life.
I winked at the old man warning me about those 25lb plates and said: “That’s great!”
They’re my plates now, and my weight lifting routine gets better and better.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Educate yourself! (and happy new year!)

There are so many great resources out there that will help you learn about diet and fitness! If you’re going to embark upon a new exercise program, you have the responsibility to know about the right and wrong way to do things.
There’s no excuse for doing things wrong. There’s just too much information about exercise on the internet, and at the library, and at the gym.
You can choose to be Tubby, (and yes, it’s a choice)
But you can’t wonder why you’re tubby.
So the search for information quickly became a part of my routine once I started to lift weights regularly. I found great books about weight lifting at the library.
Youtube was one of my greatest resources. There were endless videos about specific weight lifting exercises and techniques, and I quickly learned new exercises for my routine. I learned that squats and lunges were very important and should be added to my routine. I learned about rows and lawnmowers and kickbacks and pullovers and shrugs. All these exercises are FUN and they fill GREAT and they’ve made my routine more dynamic.
I learned from my library books that Olympic weight lifting exercises are great for my routine. They are explosive and good for the entire body. Yes, the people competing in the Olympics lift incredible amounts of weight, but when I do the same exercises with a more manageable amount of weight, several reps make my muscles burn and my heart pound. So I’ve added Cleans and presses and even Snatches, just because the name makes me giggle.
Diet education has changed everything for me as well. I listen to Dr. Oz. I don’t agree with everything I hear, but I listen for things I can try that will help. For example, I heard one doctor say that the best health advice he could give anyone is to start the day with a very large drink of water. He said that water should be the first thing that enters our bodies each day, and he was talking about a lot of water.
I can honestly say that drinking water first thing every day has changed my life. I feel better, and I eat better because of it. Now, some of the diet advice I hear just rubs me the wrong way. Maybe as I learn and continue to educate myself, my attitudes and habits will change. I’ll give anything a try. But I’m not ready to grouse through the underbrush for grubs yet.
Well, the time has come. I’m putting my money where my mouth is. You’re here to see if I’m really successful. So I’m putting up some pictures of myself doing my workout. I’m still tubby, but I’m making progress that I can see and feel.