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    • CommentTimeJul 24th 2013
    Seb: "So, I hate gyms and have never been in one." Love that one. I think maybe you hate the IDEA of gyms. I'm not going to tell you that you should try one, because gyms are certainly not for everyone and they just annoy me if I'm not there in downtimes. Classes are great, though. When I'm being instructed alongside a bunch of other people, something kicks in and I try harder. I have trouble doing Taekwondo at home, but put me in a class, and I'll be working harder than most people there.

    Argos: If you're plateauing, it's most likely because your body is too used to the exercises and has stopped responding. Find a new set of routines you can do for a month or two then switch back to the one you have now. You shouldn't be doing the same set of exercises for more than 1-2 months according to any PT I've talked to, and it makes sense. You could try heavier weights as well. You should scale the weights you use anyway as you go along. Sometimes, even dropping down in weights can work, as it encourages higher intensity, higher rep and thus works your body differently. :)

    Glu: I would recommend some HIIT. There are a lot of HIIT exercises out there that only use bodyweight as well, so you wouldn't need much more than a jump rope, but maybe a set of small weights would help you along. Pretty much everything Argos is saying makes a lot of sense. Push-ups are great for shoulders as well, and if you want a monster glute-builder, do try the bulgarian split squat, either bodyweight, with dumbbells or a sandbag. When I did one last, I was on two 29-kg dumbbells. And yeah... My grip almost fails me before my legs do. :P
    • CommentTimeJul 24th 2013 edited
    Holy crap, this thread exploded.

    Okay, so me. Used to be around 275lbs, started running and walking everywhere and got that down to about 207lbs, but found a really nice balance at 217lbs. A year of constant travel and junkfood had me gaining 10lbs and then I had the kidney surgery last summer, which had me off my feet for a while and depression, which had me off my feet all the time, and I'm now at about 240lbs and would like to get back down to 217lbs or so.

    The problem is my normal method for things don't seem to be working. Just running or walking everywhere, while balancing my diet a bit, aren't doing the trick anymore. A factor I think, is that I work in the beer industry and it's sort of a constant thing. I should say, though, that I'm oddly enough drinking less than I ever have because,'s WORK. I like drinking, but normally I have about 2-3 bottles a week with a couple of 5oz samplers inbetween. Still, it's fermented sugar water.

    So I've decided to keep a better diet and do a mix of cardio/strength to lose those pounds. For strength, I have the weights, a crapload of dumbells of various weights and even a set up for benchpressing...but I have no idea where to start with that. I don't know how much to lift and how long I should be lifting for. As a result, my arms get shot out early. Any suggestions would be fantastic.

    As for cardio, I got myself a fitbit zip:

    This isn't the model that can track your sleep or swimming, but I feel that it's all I need. It tracks steps taken (both for everyday use and "active mode", which is when you're going particularly fast and long with walking) and working with the online app works out a kind of plan for you in regards to how many calories you need to burn today and how many steps/miles you need to take (my goal is 10,000 steps/5 miles daily). The food tracking portion of the app needs a LOT of work (myfitnesspal is better at this in my opinion) but at least easy to work with.

    Also the 11 year-old in me is thrilled to have something that looks like a tamagotchi again.
    • CommentTimeJul 24th 2013
    @seb and @mags, Yeah, the IDEA of gyms tend to bug me and I've found that with a lot of them it's kind of a shop around process to see how you meld with the folks. I've gone to gyms that were FILLED with dudepros pumping iron and talking about nailing them bitches and I've gone to gyms with these stick thin women talking about switching to gluten-free diets and I've gone to gyms where I felt that I had to work out in another gym before I was even allowed through the doors. I find that in a lot of them the deterring factor is not wanting to appear to be "that person" who is struggling and that other people in the gym look at and say "glad I'm not them". Thankfully, I made a home at my queer-positive all female boxing gym. All sorts of different body types and everyone is super friendly. Only problem with that is distance now.

    @david, I hear you on depression causing really bad habits and little to no inclination to get active. I'm working on it, but it's slow going to reach that point I used to where I was practically zen while out on a run. For walks I give myself a flimsy goal ("Uh...damn! I'm running out of peppercorns! I should walk to the store!") so I'm doing it for a reason and for running I end up just shaming myself in to it. For both I listen to comedy shows (The XFM sessions of the Ricky Gervais Show get me through the workouts. Karl is a feckless idiot that I love and it's something to listen to that isn't my mind).
    • CommentTimeJul 24th 2013

    You've got a good thing to start with. One thing I would say is that most PTs seem to agree that anything more than 45-60 minutes of hard work and you start to very quickly lose efficiency. So aim for that. Usually, that translates to around six-seven different exercises per workout for me.

    For any weight training that you haven't done before, start low.

    EXAMPLE: First time you're doing bench press, start with just the bar for ten reps. If that's not leaving you tired, add maybe ten kg. Then add ten more. Etc. When you get to the point where you can only do six-seven reps, stop adding but do one more set with the same weights. Next time you bench press (four-five days later) do one set at a lower weight as a warm-up and then go into the highest weight you had previously. How many reps you want to be doing depends on the goal. 10-15 reps builds wiry muscles, 5-9 reps will build strength, 2-4 will build size. At least that's how I've understood it.

    Bench Press is really most effective when you have a spotter, as one finger under the bar can push you that one step further and you're not in danger of ending up with a bar squishing your chest, but you CAN do it alone, it just won't be as effective as with a spotter. I do it alone myself.

    If you want to make bench presses really effective, do a super-set of push-ups straight away after each set. A super-set is when you do some other exercise without any rest. You then rest after the second exercise (60-90 seconds) and then do the pair again. This keeps your muscles working hard and building stamina and it pushes against your limits.

    If you can find a copy of this, that's a good starting point. It does require some equipment you might not have, though...

    I can share some of the workouts I've done if you like.
  1.  (11123.5)
    Over the last couple years, after many false starts in my lifetime I've managed to go from about 235 to 195 pounds. Even though people go on about how much thinner I am now, no one wants to hear my advice. This is because my advice is that you have to bust your ass every day and not eat a lot, for years. Everyone just starting out ends up doing the same thing: They go as hard as they can for the first couple days or weeks, then they get some combination of exhausted, frustrated, and/or injured. Then they take a break, then that break turns into quitting. Usually for a year or a few months until they get frustrated enough to get started again. I know this because that is what happened to me, time and time again until I finally found the right balance for me, personally.

    So that is my advice: Start slow, and I mean SLOW. Don't just assume that your body is able to take a lot of punishment right away, because it probably isn't. Even if your muscles are fairly strong, your bones and tendons have to build strength too. To say nothing of your heart and lungs.


    OH AND diet is probably even more important than exercising, but it doesn't have to be anything crazy or complicated. It should be a real diet that you can pretty much live on for the rest of your life, not something that is only for a few months. All I did was stop eating junk like soda and fast food, and ate less of everything that wasn't a fruit or a vegitable.
    • CommentTimeJul 24th 2013
    Yep, that mirrors my experience quite well. I didn't go super-hard on it, but I would always get bored, go on holiday, get a minor injury or something else that realistically should only put me off-track for a week or two but which lead to cycles of 1-3 weeks on, 3 months off. I think most of us will go through that, and the thing that makes the difference is to keep coming back, to keep looking for the way that fitness works for us and to keep widening the ON times and narrowing the OFF times. This year was the first time I was serious about exercising during a holiday, and thanks to that, I was right back on the horse with my normal routines when I got back home.

    That is really the key. Finding motivation consistently.

    Someone I know recently pointed out that she doesn't FIND time to exercise. She MAKES time. There's something to that.
  2.  (11123.7)
    "Someone I know recently pointed out that she doesn't FIND time to exercise. She MAKES time. There's something to that."

    Yup. I think it's important that you make exercise a part of your daily routine like taking a shower or brushing your teeth. My routine is to wake up at 5 AM every day - no matter what. Some days I don't feel like going, but as long as I get out of bed and my feet are planted on the floor, my feet tend to take me to the gym because it's now so ingrained into my daily routine.
    • CommentTimeJul 24th 2013
    Diet is another thing with me. I....don't eat too great. At least not much. I only have on average about 1-2 meals a day and that's it.
    • CommentTimeJul 24th 2013
    Well, there's only one way to change that, Robin, and you obviously know that already. :)
  3.  (11123.10)
    @ oldhat - yeah, you need to eat more than 1 to 2 meals a day. the best way I heard it described is, your metabolism is like a furnace that needs a small amount of fuel through out the day. snacking (on the right stuff) is actually good for weight loss. I always have dry roasted unsalted almonds at my desk so I don't go crazy and binge on junk food.
    • CommentTimeJul 24th 2013
    I used to have salt & vinegar almonds at my desk as a snack food. OMMMNOMNOMNOMIshouldgetthoseagain.

    I'm trying to use the quinoa as a meal additive thing for added fullness. My problem is that it's just... so bland. Like, I use yellow rice as my meal supplement and it is delicious. Quinoa... is not yellow rice. And doesn't seem to enjoy spices the same way I'm used to with rice. I once had a delightful quinoa risotto but I have no idea what manner of alchemy they did.

    I'm an absolute beginner to any of this. I looked up HIIT but it says:
    15 seconds: High-Intensity Exercise
    60 seconds: Rest or Low-Intensity Exercise

    Annnnnd I don't know what those are. Good website suggestions for beginners that don't require too many specialty items (i'm not going to buy dumbbells as I can't afford right now + don't even know if I'd use them) or offers good alternative suggestions? I use a quart jug of white paint (shaped like a plastic milk carton, but no worrying about it going bad!) for my shoulder stretching exercises.
  4.  (11123.12)
    High Intensity is going absolutely balls out with everything you've got while doing an aerobic exercise like running, but it's basically impossible to measure properly. They define it in terms of oxygen uptake and I have no idea how a person is supposed to measure that without medical equipment.

    My last attempt at trying running I tried to do it in more high intensity intervals, but that increased the impact while running and made my shin splints worse.
  5.  (11123.13)
    @ glukkake - I would be careful with getting almonds that are flavored. I've read some of the labels on those and they are full of sodium and chemicals that could cause you to retain water weight. I used to get 2 containers of dry roasted almonds. One with just sea salt on them and another with nothing on them. I used to blend the 2 together so it only had half the salt and then eventually I weened myself off of the salted ones entirely. I think, like sugar, people get hooked on salt. I know I was/am. I don't know where you' live, but I get these ones from Von's called "Safeway Select Whole Almonds" that are awesome. No additives. No oils.

    I tried quinoa "bread" once and it was just awful. I like the idea of it, but I'd rather eat a fistful of saw dust. Have you tried cooking the quinoa in no salt vegetable or chicken broth? Maybe that would work.
    • CommentTimeJul 24th 2013
    Yeah, yeah I know, I know....But baby steps.

    Starting to eat breakfast. May give oatmeal another go at some point.

    Also snacking on unsweetened almonds and olives stuffed with garlic cloves.
  6.  (11123.15)
    Decided to try and find the Coldwater Canyon Open Space (or even Coldwater Canyon Park) to ride in, and, uh, yeah... This is not a good area for riding a bike. Roads south of Ventura Boulevard are very narrow, very windy, very steep, and have tons and tons of traffic. More than a bit terrifying to go up and down. I'll make a try for the Sepulveda Dam tomorrow.
    • CommentTimeJul 24th 2013 edited
    My 2 cents:

    At one point, when I was trying to find space for a little easy muscular training without having to go the gym, I started practicing Shovelglove, which is basically the act of swinging a sledgehammer for 14 minutes a day. The set of moves are "work" moves, so it can be practical in terms of every day life and is relatively easy to do and follow.

    I did this for about 8 to 10 months, then decided to try the gym again. I had a few experiences before, which all resumed to going for 3-4 months then letting go. One of the main differences for me this time was to ask for a program that implied little or no machines. I felt that working with free weights would feel more gratifying in possibly implying more of the body (I find that working a single muscle eventually feels pointless and this affected my motivation a lot). It ended up working nicely for me, and the trainer also built a workout more centered about exercises that could help improve everyday moves. I've now been going on for 2 years; my current workouts are more on the anaerobic side - things like taking two exercises and doing 8-10 reps of each, alternating for 3 minutes without taking a break. This works well for my motivation, as I find this way more satisfying and stimulating than doing the regular sets.

    Now, one more thing that I've been doing at home, that proved to work well too, was to try Zuzana's workouts. These are pretty intense but can usually be completed inside 20 mins. A lot of the suggested workouts do not require weights. Two warnings: try not to get intimidated by her abs, and trying her workouts can lead to a strange dependence to burpees :)
    Zuzana's website, and you'll find a list of her workouts here, with videos and exercises breakdown.

    edited for funky formatting with a Youtube channel link...
    • CommentTimeJul 24th 2013
    I'm so sick of hearing about Quinoa. It's not a particularly good source of protein, it's bland as hell (like Glu, I can't get it to taste nice in the way I can with... most other starches) and it doesn't satisfy me. I'd rather have beans, barley or brown rice any day. Dif'rent strokes, I guess...

    Almonds are incredibly healthy in limited quantities and a great way to get your muscles restoring after a workout. Just made sure you're not stuffing whole bags down you because they are seriously calorific, like any nut. A good handful a day should be more than enough.

    Check out Arnold's 1% Challenge for some interesting exercises to do to get started on fitness. It's a 15 minute-a-day thing so definitely doable for any time table. They have some bodyweight routines and some that require weights. I'm pretty sure I saw more routines on Youtube before.
    • CommentTimeJul 24th 2013
    ACTUALLY...a nice Quinoa-potato salad is fucking awesome. Also I know friends that have Quinoa Oatmeal (cooking it in milk) and they really enjoy it...
  7.  (11123.19)
    The other thing about quinoa is that it's a staple food for a lot of South America, but it's gotten so popular amongst trendy first-worlders that it's driven up the price in SA, and a lot of people who were dependent on it can no longer afford it.

    So there's your making you feel guilty for trying to eat healthy fact of the day.
    • CommentAuthorArgos
    • CommentTimeJul 24th 2013 edited
    Quinoa is awesome if you flavor it well. It's a complete protein, but yes, it's not a good source of protein. Mostly it's a great carb.

    HIIT: High intensity is working hard enough that you can only keep it up for 10-20 seconds, and no more. You're huffing and puffing and just can't squeeze out any more reps. Low intensity is where you're working out but can talk comfortably. When i do my jump rope HIIT, sometimes I'll do super short rest periods where I just stop doing anything, so I go from high intensity to no intensity, where you're just letting yourself catch your breath. In these cases I do 20sec high intensity and 10sec rest.

    @Oldhat: a good place to start is finding a weight where you can do 8-12 reps with good form, where you're starting to lose form on your last rep. Hard core body builders find a weight where they can only do 4-5 reps, but it's my understanding that that method is for bulking up massive muscles. Mag might be able to correct me on this.

    My beef with gyms isn't the people, I can ignore them well enough. I just hate having to wait to use machines, and it's weird to have to jump from station to station when you're doing circuits. Also people don't always wipe off their machines.