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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My Baby Steps for a Killer Body

For those who read my blog regularly, I'm sorry for the recent silence. Off-line life got a little crazy but things are back under control now!
Today I'll be posting an update on my exercise progress, including information on some new exercises I've been trying.
Over the course of the last year I've been working towards losing pounds I gained while on a break from school. In three months I packed on 40 pounds and have yet to drop any of it. In fact, I'm now 45 pounds heavier than I have ever been before. Weight, however, can be misleading. The exercises I was using toned my arms and legs, leaving me with quite a lot of muscle mass. I know this is the case because I can still wear clothing that fit when I weighed less than I do now. For clarification here are some hard numbers: NOTE: I am not a fitness or health professional. All tips and suggestions are my personal opinion via personal experience and are not meant as a substitute for medical advice.
  • 140-145 = The weight I was at most of my life, from sixth grade to my Junior year of college. This means I was rather slender, since I measure in at 5'9".
  • 180 = The weight I was when I decided I needed to get back to 145 and stop being unhealthy. Weight issues run in my family so I knew I needed to nip this problem before it really got going
  • 190 = Current weight. Most of the 10 pounds between this weight and the one above it are muscle mass, as indicated by the minimal fat on my legs and arms as well as the clothes that are looser now than when I weight 180.
Since my waistline is not expanding I've been doing something right. Here's what I've been doing over the last year and half:
  • Eating off smaller plates so I can keep a closer eye on my portions
  • Not eating after midnight unless my schedule is funky and that's the "middle" of my "day"
  • Walking instead of taking the bus to certain local locations
  • Giving up most fast food
  • Exercising sporadically but intensely
  • Eating heavier lunches and lighter suppers. (This is very effective because I am more active during the middle of the day than I am later in the evening so I schedule my calories accordingly. Other lifestyles may not find this idea useful)
Written out it seems like a lot but it's really not much. To lose the belly I've gained in the last few years I will have to step up my game and really make some changes. I've got a pretty good idea of where to start and I've already put many of the steps in to action. Since I seem to like lists a lot today, here is a list of the new changes I am making as well as explanations for why I am making them:
  • Giving up soda (mostly). Once in a while I will indulge in a soda but I mostly stick to fruit juices, milk, tea, and water. Especially water...
  • Drinking more water! "Water Weight" is excess water that your body holds on to because it is dehydrated. Salty foods and extreme temperatures can do this to you and the best remedy is to drink enough water. Since the "8 glasses a day" rule has been debunked the best advice is this: Drink water until you don't feel thirsty. And when you feel like a snack, sip some water first. Thirst and hunger feel similar and can often be confused for one another. Drinking water first may save you some unnecessary calories.
  • Increasing my cardio quota. Since I usually do twenty minutes of cardio three times a week (and almost nothing else) I'm really just maintaining my current weight. Sadly, I despise most cardio (running, biking, etc). Our new apartment complex has a pool that opens rather early, so that helps, and I've come across some excellent at-home cardio exercises that even I can do.
  • Use the little tips, like sitting on an exercise ball instead of the couch and standing at work whenever possible. I've been talking about these steps for a long time now but I rarely use them. Since every little bit helps, I'm going to start taking my own advice.
  • Diversify my workout. The human body adapts to things very quickly, learning the best way to do something without losing a lot of energy in the process. Because, despite our highly evolved minds, our bodies still function under the rule of survival which means we need fat because fat is energy. By doing a wide variety of exercises and pushing myself harder when things start to feel easy, I can get past my body's fail safes and burn off the fat that it is storing.
  • Eat fewer empty calories. Depriving yourself of things will only make cravings stronger, but exercising caution when eating sweets is usually wise. A great example is the snack I usually go for around 3 or 4 in the afternoon. Instead of reaching for a doughnut, cookie, or toasted bagel I've been going for a small salad, bowl of miso soup, carrot sticks, or piece of fruit instead. It fills me up just as well as the bread products, can satisfy a sugar craving, and all of them are healthier than bread products!

 Wow, this post is longer than I intended it to be! As you can see, I've got quite a bit of work ahead of me. Eventually it will all become second nature and I won't even have to think about it. Until then I have to remember that if I want the results I have to do the work, which isn't too bad since I've never be afraid of working hard.
In my next post I will detail the new exercises I've started using and explain why they are awesome.
NOTE: I am not a fitness or health professional. All tips and suggestions are my opinion via personal experience and research. They are not meant as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult a doctor before beginning any exercise program.


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