I wrote this as a response to another post to the ever common ‘where to start on my mission to lose weight.’ I figure since it took me a bit of time to put together and a lot of people have the same question it was worth posting stand-alone. It’s long but if you’re not sure where to start this should point you in the right direction.
First and foremost I don’t have any ‘schooled’ training in this subject. I’m 25 and I’m a lifelong fitness enthusiast but I’m not a physio or personal trainer. I’m 8 months (2 terms) away from a Biochemistry Nutrition Degree, but that’s not Dietetics. I deal moreso with the chemical properties and their biochemical interactions within the body. With that said, everything I say here is accurate to the best of my knowledge.
You need to recognize that what you want to achieve is not going to come in the short term, this isn’t something you’ll do for a while and stop. From now on you need to just decide to be healthy and to be active. You will at first not enjoy this, it’ll be a complete change from what your body is used to both mentally and physically. Right now you mention you’re a gamer, I can completely relate. I’ve layed off the WoW as of late but my PS3 has me for at least some time every day. I would assume you have some sort of agreement with yourself such as, get all your chores and work done for the day, and then I’ve got time to game. From this point forward exercise and being active is one of those chores. It’s gotta be a part of your day like eating and sleeping. Every day you make time to be active and healthy. Period.
With your weight, age and sex a metabolic calculator I found on google will help you calculate your base metabolic rate, or the number of calories you need to consumer each day to remain the same weight. A pound of bodyfat equals out to roughly 3500 calories, so you want to reduce your calorie intake by that amount over a week. Cut 500 calories every day for 7 days and you will lose a pound a week. You don’t want to go any more than that because your body will freak out.
Now cutting calories is not easy and its up to you to know the calorie counts in everything you eat. It’ll be a pain at first but most things have labels and those that don’t have Google. You’re going to want to make the most of what you eat as not all calories are created equal. Whole foods are key, think fruit, meat, vegetables and that’s it. It’s pretty simple but if you avoid manufactured food products, and limit your carbs you are going to eat a healthy diet and lose weight. This includes avoiding things like soda’s and frutopia and nes-tea or whatever other drink you crazy kids are into. Drink Milk, Water, and Juice that’s not from concentrate. The calorie to size ratio of these things (whole foods, etc.) is in your favor, so if you fill up on them you’ll be full longer.
Now, cutting your calories plus the being active part I’ll talk about in a second is going to make you feel run down at first. You’ll be tired and you’ll want to quit or munch out or whatever, you now know this up front and need to be prepared for it. When it happens in your head you need to say ‘this is normal, I can keep going, I can get there’ and you will. Budget yourself for a coffee or one caffeine drink per day . Don’t overdo it or your body will get used to the caffeine and you won’t get so much of a boost. Don’t drink coffee with breakfast, drink it before you work out or when you think you’ll need it most. Just avoid too close to bedtime.
And have a cheat day, but don’t go mad. A cheat is like a bag of chips and a can of soda and that’s it. Not ice cream for breakfast, pizza for lunch and cheesecake for supper. Your diet will be a big part of you achieving your goal, but it will give you what you give it. Eat too much or don’t eat whole foods it’ll be very hard to get where you want.
People have suggested that working out while being overweight is difficult. I agree that this is the case but I would take it one step further and say the initial transition going from an inactive lifestyle to an active one is difficult. Your body isn’t used to doing this much work and at the outset it’ll hate you for it. In the long run your body will reward you in ways you didn’t know were possible, but in the short term you need to just grin and bear it.
Most people have access to the outdoors and a bike. From now on, first thing in the morning every day you need to either walk for 30 minutes or bike for 30 minutes or swim (not float, but be in constant motion swimming) for 10 minutes if you have access to water. It’s a great way to start the day, it’ll give you energy throughout the day and it’s going to help get your level of activity up. As things progress you can move on to jogging, biking at a fast continuous pace and swimming for longer periods of time, but starting off take it easy and focus on consistency and doing it every day.
Starting off with the strength training you should also take it easy. Build up a foundation before progressing to anything too strenuous. You should start off with a lot of body weight exercises and the easiest (most time efficient) way to do this will be to do a circuit.
An example circuit might be:
15 jumping jacks
15 Push ups (if you can’t do them from the feet, doing them from the knee)
15 Bodyweight Squats
Also using some very basic weight lifting equipment you can also use the following circuits:
15 Reps Bench Press (just with the bar at first)
15 Reps Bent Over Row (either with the free weights or the long bar)
20 Sit Ups
15 Reps Dead Lift
20 Second Plank
You want to do strength training exercises every second day, so your workout would look something like:
Circuit A x 2
Circuit B x 2
Day 2: Break
Circuit A x 2
Circuit C x 2
Day 4: Break
Circuit B x 2
Circuit C x 2
You want to do the exercises within the circuit back to back with as little of a break as possible. Take a break at the end of a complete circuit. If you find these workouts too easy or too short add another round (i.e. do each circuit 3 or 4 times instead of 2). Something I do when I do bodyweight circuits is to do them outside. I goto a big park close to my house, do one circuit on one side of the park then jog to the other side and do the second circuit. Jog back to where I started and take a break and then repeat. There are all kinds of things you can do to make things more challenging, all it takes is a little imagination.
Check out the video’s linked to the exercises and do everything you can to emulate the proper form. Using bad technique, regardless of if it feels easier or not will only lead to an injury. And like anything else you’ll only get out of it what you put in. You will need to do your own research to find new routines when this one gets stale and you’ll need to do your own research (try and get your info from reputable sources) to see what weight you should use and so on.
There are plenty of options out there. As much as she is an ex-pornstar, bodyrock.tv actually has some pretty great bodyweight exercise routines. Also, search bodyweight exercise routine on youtube for 10,000 other options.
Something to consider when working out is pre/during and post workout nutrition. First, it’s very important to stay hydrated. Bring a bottle of water (be environmentally friendly and get a reusable bottle) to every workout and with you on every walk/bike/swim and endeavour to finish it. You should be drinking a least 500ml – 1 litre of water per workout.
Also, immediately after the workout (in the first 15 minutes) try and have a piece of fruit to get some natural sugars into your system and within an hour after the strength training portion of your exercise you should try and eat a meal.
And lastly you should try and work some yoga into your day. The easiest way to do that is to buy a beginners yoga set at Walmart or a comparable store, something with an instructional DVD and a mat so you can do it at home. I’d recommend doing it in the morning after your walk/bike/swim before your shower. There are so many benefits to doing yoga it’s ridiculous, but mostly the additional stretching will help ease your body into a more active lifestyle much more easily (and less painfully).
If you follow this whole plan to the letter you’ll quickly be on your way to getting where you want to go, but I doubt you will. You’re human, and you’re going to sneak a snack every now and then, you’ll be hungover and skip a morning workout, you’ll slip up and it’s human. You need to recognize that while it’s not the end of the world, you do need to avoid it as much as possible. You will get out of this exactly what you put in, the more you keep to the plan the faster you’ll lose weight.
You really can do it, and it really isn’t that hard. Just take the onus on yourself to educate yourself and stay consistent. If you work at it, you’ll get there. You won’t see any noticeable change until about 2 months in, but if you keep it up for a year I bet you’ll see a drastic difference.