So about two months ago I gave you my back story and ended with these wonderful before and after pics of me in 2011 when I decided to get my act together and go for it. I had found some of that fire, that drive: I did not want to deal with Meniere’s Disease anymore, I had to be stronger than it was.
So, what did I do?
Any of Shaun T’s programs? Nope. (Say, whaaaaaaaaaaaat?!? No seriously, I didn’t.)
TaeBo? Pilates? Shake-Weight? Nope. Nope. NO!
Wanna know? I assume you do because you’ve read this far! Ok…here goes, this is what I did: I exercised and I made positive food choices. Seriously!
Yes, I will get to the “specifics” of what I did in a minute, but seriously, there isn’t a magic pill! It’s all about getting up off your ass, making the hard and more positive choices and sticking with it! It is a learned and ever-being-learned lesson in my life. You must make the choice to keep moving forward, to do something, to fight the urges to give up and quit. Sometimes you need to get fed up with where you have let yourself get to. More on that another time.
Find out what is “worth it” for you
What do you want to do or keep doing that will make paying the price of admission to the halls of self-discipline and transformation “worth it” to you?
It’s hard, Dads and Moms out there, it’s hard, but it is so worth it! Being able to run up and down the playground with your children is worth it. Being able to rough-house and keep up with the grandkids instead of looking on from your easy chair, sucking air from a canister and unable to do something about it is worth it. Being out and about, active and enjoying life with your family is worth it. Not being a slave to the sickness, medications and having your Doctor’s say you just have to “live with” is worth it!
Positive Food Choices
So, did you notice how I said that I stuck with positive food choices instead of saying that I went on a diet? I like the way this excellent article over at BodyBuilding.com puts it:
Somewhere in the last few decades, people everywhere began to confuse a healthy diet with “dieting.” A healthy diet is balanced and can be altered or customized to achieve specific goals without becoming unhealthy. Dieting, on the other hand, is simple deprivation in the name of fat loss, and with it often comes physical weakness, unhappiness, and a decline in athleticism.
Very, very often, the two are confused, which is why I usually use words like “food choice” or “plan”. Diets suggest “fad”, diet suggests “try it and quit in two weeks if I don’t drop 30lbs”, diet suggests “failure”. Diet is about as cliché’ as joining a fitness club on New Years Day. Whereas a food plan or choice is something you are consciously doing, you have a specific goal in mind, you have a purpose and a why. It is deliberate. Your food choices help support, strengthen and back up your reasons why is it worth it to you.
Steve Kamb over at Nerd Fitness has a great way of putting it when it comes to making positive food choices. Instead of saying no because you are on a diet, you just say “I don’t X”, whatever X is right now. You don’t drink soda. You don’t eat donuts. People will assume “Oh, you are on a diet?” when you don’t pitch in for the Monday morning office donuts or the mid-day treat run. And you simply say “No, I no longer eat donuts because I am tired of how it makes my body feel.”. People will bribe you, tease, criticize, and generally not understand. Crabs in a bucket, people, crabs in a bucket.
YOLO, they may say. Exactly. You only live once. We prefer to live this one time without prescription drugs, high obesity and an inability to do the things we would love to do because we aren’t healthy enough to do them.
You only live once.
It’ll take some “reprogramming” in your brain, hacking into the Matrix of life and learning a few “life hacks” at restaurants to solidify a lot of your food choices, but you can do it. Again, it is worth it.
Hopefully you get the point, food choice is important. Depending on your goals, the food choices you make will be 85-95% of your success in the gym or where ever you decide to work out. Positive fuel + positive work = positive results. I’m still on the path, I’m still learning and adjusting, but it is worth it.
O.K., enough with the food choices, thank you for staying with me. Let’s get to the physical side of things!
There is probably a more technical term for this. I’m sure I read it once or a million times, I don’t know. But this is what I did. I didn’t have a gym membership so I focused on body weight exercises. A “leg” move, a “pull” move, a “push” move and something “core” related. I would take these four exercises, do a certain amount of each in a circuit with only the briefest of rests in between – usually 30 seconds – and then when I was finished with the final move, I would rest for 90 to 120 seconds and repeat the circuit. This circuit of exercises and reps would be done five times and then I would call it a day. I focused on doing this twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Here are the exercises I did.
Circuit 1: Squats, Pull Ups, Push Ups, Reverse Crunches/Leg Lifts,
Circuit 2: Lunges, Chin Ups, Dips, Planks
I didn’t start off cranking out the Pull Ups, Chin Ups and Dips. I have a “power tower” at home that comes with bands for weight assistance, meaning, I can take up to a certain amount of pounds off my bodyweight to successfully complete the reps and help build up my strength.
So I started there.
No weight added, just bodyweight squats, lunges, and push ups with reduced weight Pulls, Chins and Dips. All of the “rep” exercises were done in increments of five or ten, depending on the exercise and level of ability. The planks were in time increments of 15 seconds and then I began to build on that, 20sec, 25sec, 30sec, etc as training went on. The weight assisted exercises decreased as my strength increased.
I should stress that I planned ahead, knowing not only what I would do, but, how many reps, how long I would hold a plank, how many total circuits, total duration of the workout, what my warm up would look like, what my cool down stretches would look like, etc. Based on the prior week’s workout, I would try to increase the challenge a bit to stimulate growth. I cannot emphasize enough how much planning and keeping track of your workout plan can help you stay focused. When you are frustrated, you can review and see what you’ve been doing and see where you’ve come from, you can assess what needs improving, and when you are looking at switching things up, you can more clearly assess what has been working or not working.
I should also stress that I didn’t go into this knowing ahead of time what I wanted to do. That is where Nerd Fitness came into play and me diving headlong into the articles to figure out what I wanted and how I wanted to do it. Reading those articles and many of the links Steve provided in his own articles, gave me the direction I needed to put together the circuits and the plan to execute.
I pushed, pulled, squatted, lunged, sweated and groaned my way through the next 101 days.
And it paid off, creating a new desire and giving me the momentum to keep moving forward and not give up.
Like I said in the previous article. Those before and after pictures might not be P90X transformation-worthy, but I earned that smile on my face. I had worked for it. Though I was only 101 days into a solid journey, it is a beginning, an origin story if you will, that I will always look back to and smile.