On Weighty Matters

Yesterday was an anniversary — my gym membership expired and thus needed renewing. At the same time, it was also the day I met with my trainer so I stepped on the bathroom scale. 207 — a great number to see.

This time last year I was fat. Heavy. Chunky. Big in the middle. No kind way to put it. Granted there are people with weight issues that are worse off than me. My stepfather is one such individual. Still, at 235 pounds, and the memory of my Father’s heart attack three years ago still in my mind, I finally decided I was sick and tired of being sick and tired of being fat, and went back to the gym across the road from my house.

I had been to Fitness Factory 2 before. It had been about sixor seven years ago to my recollection, although I can’t remember why I let my membership lapse. I think it was because I couldn’t justify the cost and decided to get my own equipment and work out at home. To say that did not pan out is putting it mildly.

The weight bench has gone unused for years and I’m practically giving it to a friend once we get off our collective asses and agree to move it all. The recumbent bike broke down after six months of semi-regular use and would most likely cost more to repair than it did to buy the damn thing. The exercise books, the mat and large exercise ball are also neglected, and it’s all for one simple reason: working out at home doesn’t… well… work out for me.

Like many things in life, no one true path exists when it comes to fitness. Two commonalities exist and methods of approach will differ between people. Despite what you see on TV for supplements, special equipment and snake-oil, it all comes down to diet and activity.

At 190 pounds, my father was considered dangerously overweight, as made evident by the mild heart attack (as it was described). He lost thirty pounds in two months by doing two things. The first was that — as soon as he was cleared by the doctor — he started walking about 2-4 miles a day. The other change? He stopped having thirds at dinner and cut red meat out of his diet. That’s it.

Bear in mind that my Dad was a skinny dude when he was young. I mean skinny as in he could turn sideways and disappear. He also has one hell of a metabolism and is highly active. The only time he actually stopped doing stuff was when he had to go to the hospital, and I expect Death will have a hard time getting him to take a break. That’s not me.

I was never skinny. My build comes more from my Mom’s side of the family, which tends to shapes that favor a bit of muscle…or bulk if you’re not healthy. With 190 as my goal weight, it’s easy to tell I don’t burn fuel as fast as my old man. Walking was not going to cut it.

My diet did change. I rarely indulge in junk food, and fast food places like Wendy’s have become a very occasional pleasure, along with fried stuff. It boils down to portion control and calories, and being mindful of both. As a bachelor, I find those single serving packages of vegetables and side dishes perfect, as it saves from cooking a lot of food and overeating.

For exercise… well as I said before I can’t do it at home. Going to the gym is far more effective for me, and I work out there six days a week. My routine alternates between weights and cardio. For weights I shift between three different workouts, changing the line-up from week to week to keep from falling into a rut. Cardio consists of an hour on the elliptical, and I prefer that over bikes or treadmills by a factor of a hojillion. My knees thank me for that decision.

It’s been working. I plateaued at 210 for a long while before my trainer suggested I get to the gym earlier in the morning, working out before breakfast. Two weeks later and three pounds lighter, I found it to be sound advice.

Even though progress is slow by some standards, it’s still progress and that goal of 190 looks attainable. Dropping six inches from my waist doesn’t hurt matters either, and more importantly, it’s a change I can maintain. I know the weight I lost is staying off, and I’ve been a lot happier (and healthier) since I started. In the end, that’s all that matters.


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