Archive for June, 2013

I’m sure depending on your experience you have met what I call the “Fitness Fundamentalist”.  What is a “Fitness Fundamentalist”? It is a person that follows specific routines or individuals within the fitness industry with such fervor, they defend the stupid shit they say and admonish those who disagree with their methods or use different methods altogether.  They also tend to make people who have less experience feel inadequate or inferior in order to make themselves seem more knowledgeable. However, in reality they are just being jerks and half the time they don’t know any more than you or anyone else.

When you start to workout, especially when you are on your own, avoid the “Fitness Fundamentalist” at all cost.  The best teacher when you first start will be YOURSELF. Internet forums, books and videos should be your biggest resources. Ask questions, and ignore any negative responses.

When it comes to health and fitness there are many different philosophies. The reason for that is simply because different people have different goals. Different goals, require different methods. However, you will encounter in forums and in your everyday life, people who think their way is the only way.  Respect other peoples goals and methods. And just try to learn whatever you can from them.

There are a couple of thing to know when you are starting to workout on your own.

  • Completely ignore anyone who talks in absolutes. AKA”The Fitness Fundamentalist”. An example will be “Squats are bad for your knees.” OR “Doing curls won’t do anything for you.” OR “Crossfitters are the best athletes in the world, hands down.”
  • Research anything said to you regarding training in order to weed out the bullshit.
  • Listen to yourself and do what works for you. We are all different. What works for your friend may not work for you.
  • Do not be afraid to experiment different routines or change them in order to make the workout fun. The only reason us layman work out is because we truly enjoy it. So if you are not enjoying your workout, its just more unnecessary stress
  • Be open minded. Do not assume what someone else is doing is incorrect.

I am sleepy and want to get to bed, so just remember this. Be open to what others have to say. Don’t be dismissive, just listen, research, and then decide what you want to do. Only worry about yourself and what you want out of your training. Ignore the “Fitness Fundamentalist” And most important of all. DO NOT BECOME A FITNESS FUNDAMENTALIST.

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We all have to start some where. Throughout my life I have been sporadically active. If that any makes sense. Primarily playing street basketball and doing high intensity exercise. I was just having fun. However, I after high school I became a sedentary individual.  Until I was introduced to Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe and Lon Kilgore. It is a barbell training program geared towards beginners.  

All you need is this and a bed.

All you need is this and a bed.

If you want to start barbell training, I would highly recommend you buy the book. It really changed my life and put me in the right direction in terms of strength training. Mind you I do have my qualms with the book.  The book is based on using 5 sets of 5 repetitions (5×5) on 4 main exercises; the Bench Press, Deadlift, Squat, and Overhead Press.  After you get complete 5 sets of 5 reps on the exercises at a given weight, you increase the weight for the next workout.  The program also incorporates pull ups and dips if you choose to do them. Actually, you SHOULD do them.

Fair warning. This book does not really talk about doing assistance exercises like curls or triceps extensions. This book is a guide to help increase your overall strength. Its a great book and resource to have. And no disrespect to Mark Rippetoe, but I do not agree with his, “no assistance exercise” type of training mentality. That will be for another day.

Also read my other post What I Wish I had Done

Here is what the workout looks like in a nutshell when you first start.

Workout A

  • Squat
  • Bench
  • Deadlift  1 set of 5 reps

Workout B

  • Squat
  • Overhead Press
  • Deadlift

That is it. With some pull ups thrown in there. Workouts follow a Monday, Wednesday, Friday Schedule.  Workouts alternate. First week: ABA, Second Week, BAB and so on.

If you cannot buy the book, here is the wiki page of Starting Strength: http://startingstrength.wikia.com/wiki/FAQ:The_Program

I did this for about 6 months, then went on to Texas Method, then I got hurt. Looking back, knowing what I know now, I would not have jumped right into this routine. And I had to start over and made a big mistake and went to Wendlers 5/3/1. If you want more detailed information on these workout programs look in the links page.

I would recommend people do some pre-barbell training before jumping into any barbell program. Check out my post above.What I Wish I had Done  Especially if you are an absolute beginner or a sedentary individual. *UPDATE* Again, check out my post above. What I Wish I had Done 🙂 🙂 🙂

That is it. And remember Mark Rippetoe is not the end all be all. There are a lot of other variations to 5×5 training.

There comes a time when we realize we are out of shape or unhealthy. Or maybe we just want to be more active. Being out of shape is not just about how you look.  Rather than worry about how you look, you need to worry about other things like obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.  No one likes to be unhealthy, and if you think its okay or its not a priority, you need to make it one, because you will be in for a rude awakening my friend. Maybe not in the next couple of months, but later on in life. The things you do or DONT do now, will affect your health later.Think

I am not a dietitian or personal trainer *yet*. But I will give you tips that helped me get into better shape and make better decisions.

  1. Keep a food journal. Don’t worry about what you eat just make sure you right it down and keep track of the calories on an online calorie counter.  After about one week look at what you ate. You will flabbergasted at how much food you ate. And how EASY you could have avoided it.
  2. Avoid store bought sugary drinks. These things are really bad for you. 7g of Sugar is a about 1 teaspoon. Go look at that bottle of soda you are drinking. . . Think about that.  I stopped drinking soda in High school and i lost 30 lbs while I was playing basketball. Amazing. If you want a juice or something sweet, eat fruit or start juicing fruits. But avoid sodas and store bought juices
  3. Baked or Boil your food. Try to avoid frying your food.  Want to eat some steak or a chicken breasts? Oven cook it instead.  I try my hardest to eat only oven baked food. I even eat bacon in the even once in a while.
  4. Portion your food. Pay attention to serving sizes. Learn to read Nutrition labels if you do not know already. I bought a food scale to measure how much I eat of meat and fruits and all that.  Now I can just look at a piece of steak and know how much is a serving.
  5. Drink water. And more water. Being hydrated is vital to a healthier way of living. Not only that but if you do not drink enough water, chances are you will be constipated. And no one likes that.
  6. Add veggies and fruits to what you eat. Pick a fruit you really like. I love bananas. So that is my go to fruit. I am guilty of not eating enough greens. But when I do, I go with spinach. Eating more fruits and veggies will also help you poop in combination with water. Nothing better than a good poop. At one point I was going 3-4 times a day.
  7. Be Active. If you like to ride bike or jog, do more of that. If you like to do aerobics, do some aerobic classes. Whatever it is you like to do, try to make it a bigger part of your life. Find an physical activity that you like and do MORE of it.  Don’t have time? Make time.

Setting Up a Food Routine

This is what I used to eat when I lost 20 lbs last summer. Try to find something that works for you.

Breakfast

  • 1/2 Cup Oatmeal
  • 2 Boiled Eggs
  • 1 Cup of Milk
  • Banana

Lunch (I am not a big lunch person)

  • Turkey Sandwich with whole grain bread.
  • Banana
  • Yogurt

Dinner

  • 1/2 cup of homemade rice.
  • 4-6 ounces of chicken/beef
  • Vegetables

Snacks

  • Cashews
  • Apples
  • Whole Grain Cereal (I like Kashi)
  • Grapes
  • Salads (home made)
  • Whey Protein Shake (This is what I would take since I was doing a lot of weight training)

Remember to consult a professional before starting any workout routine or diet.

Closing

Living a healthier lifestyle is not about starving yourself and jogging for 5 miles a day.  It about making better choices in kitchen and being just a little bit more active. Remember, living healthier is not a race. Making small changes can sometimes lead to big results.

Well if you are already searching in the internet on how to have a more active lifestyle, you have already done step 1. Which is acknowledging that exercising is important to your overall well being.  So here are things that would be beneficial to your journey to a healthier life. It worked for me, so I would it would help for others.

  1. Acknowledge that exercise is important to your overall health.
  2. Make the time. As hard as that may sound, results require some level of dedication and commitment. If you can only workout for 30 minutes twice a week. Then for those 30 minutes, you will need to give it your best.
  3. Set some goals. Whats your goal by googling “how to start an active lifestyle”? What do you want to do? Do you want to lose weight, get stronger, both or be a bodybuilding or Olympic champion? Maybe not an Olympic champion… but you can certainly FEEL like one!  Whatever your goal, keep it on your mind and keep it simple. Try not to add to many goals all at once. Especially if you are just beginning.
  4. Decide where to train. If you want to workout at home you need to ask yourself some questions. Do you have what you need to accomplish your goal? Will you be focused enough if you do train at home? Will you need to buy equipment? Do you have space for equipment?  If you want to train at the gym, you need to think about if the gym hours will best fit your schedule and if they have the equipment that you want. Also think about the atmosphere of the facility.
  5. Reevaluate Your Diet. What you eat will directly influence your goals. Whether it be that you want to gain some weight or loss some weight.
  6. Seek Help. Before starting an exercise routine or taking any supplements, seek advice from a professional; doctor, physical therapist, sport medicine professional, dietitian.  You never know what ailment you might have that could be become worse because of exercise or a change in diet.

That’s about it for now. I am sure I will think of other stuff later. These things helped me and hopefully this will be able to help others out as well.

Average Joe

I live in New York City, former musician and current retail employee. However I am on the path to a career in the health sciences. So its all started when….

…. at or around December 2010 my wife wanted me to go with her to the gym just to accompany her. She was starting a program called “Starting Strength”. I really could care less. I was about 5’8 and weight 160 lbs. So I thought I was in okay shape. WRONG!

Once I realized I was in very bad shape, I decided to try this Barbell Training thing. I fell in love. I was in love SO much, that I bought about $1200 worth of equipment and put it in my room next to my bed.

In about 8 months I went from 160ish to 220 lbs. Mind you it was NOT all muscle but I definitely felt better physically, mentally and emotionally. I realized this is something I was very passionate about. So I did some research, kept training and decided that I was going to go back to school to study Exercise Science.

I quit my job, started working towards getting my personal trainer certification, found some interning opportunities and eventually found a job at a local gym as customer representative.

Quitting my job was probably the best thing I could do. I took huge chance but so far its paying off.  I was a call center representative. horrible. After I quit I lost about 30 lbs and started working towards my dream. And here I am …. pursuing a degree in Exercise Science, got my personal trainer certification and interning with athletic trainers. All being done in order to best help future trainees. Some people use the word “clients” but I do not like that word. “Trainee” means you have a purpose. I mean isn’t that what we are all striving for? A Purpose.  #shit aint easy.