I felt my first off topic post should be something that could reach out to people who are or have been in my position, and hopefully provide both inspiration and motivation…hopefully.
To give you a little bit of background about myself, I was born and raised in New York from hard working parents of Jamaican ancestry. I was a very active kid growing up, I had video games like every other kid; Nintendo with Mario and Double Dragon, but my folks had the sense to kick me out of the house and tell me go play; and play I did. Tag, war, Transformers (we’d draw on cardboard boxes and make Autobot and Decepticon costumes, and then do battles), dress up as ninjas, and wrestling battle royals throwing each other over the neighborhood fence. This along with playing league baseball, getting into martial arts (I studied Ninjitsu, Muy Thai, and Tae Kwon Do), and regular weight lifting kept me fit and trim all the way up until my mid twenties. I was 160 pound solid with a rock hard six pack. Girls thought I was hot, a black bald headed Bruce Lee, my wife (who I’ve been with for almost 11 years) thought I was cute but too skinny go figure.
Then life comes out of nowhere and hits you with a king hit that knocks you on your ass. It started when my wife and I decided to live together; I got a stable job and started working toward a stable future. That meant eight hours in the office sitting in front of a computer , getting up only for a coffee break, lunch, and to use the bath room, and then getting home to eat a late dinner. Breakfast? Eat it only when I had the time. Working out? Got less and less being replaced by more sleep, vegging out in front of the boob tube, or surfing the web.
As the years went by and my eating habits got worst (take-out became my best friend because I was too tired to cook), and my work-outs became no existent, as expected the weight started to add on. At first it wasn’t too bad, I had that husky look which my wife loved , and I liked it too; I remember walking around the city with my younger brother (whose got a body like the Rock mind you), and this guy bumped into me and stumbled backwards, he quickly apologized saying, “ My bad big man”. I cracked a smile because the code of the jungle held true, a certain size gives you a certain amount of respect; don’t believe me ask any dude over 6 foot 2 if I’m full of it.
However as the years rolled by that huskiness went to a dough boy look, and I became the target of the same criticism I unleashed on people who have probably been in my position for the same reasons, and I have to tell you it’s not pleasant. I went from being called the Black Bruce Lee to Fat Albert and the Stay Puff Marshmallow man, my self esteem hit an all time low, and every time I attempted to work out it just became too painful and I’d quit.
10 years later I went from 160 to 260 pounds and not a good 260. Three things became the key factor to changing my life permanently. First was the fact that my doctor hit me with the news that I had high blood pressure. Coming from a family who has a double risk of both high blood pressure and diabetes is not a good thing, and hearing the news did scare the crap out of me but not enough to persistently do something about it. I ate less bad foods and did more walking, it helped me shed a pound or two but not enough to make a major change in my life.
The second situation was one Halloween I decided to dress up as Green Lantern John Stewart; I was all set to order a costume from Heroes in Tights when my wife to be caught me and laughed reminding me that I would not look good at all in spandex. I know she was just teasing, but it still hurt to hear it, and looking in the mirror I knew she was right, so I didn’t bother buying it. I didn’t dress up at all for Halloween which is what I like to do.
The final straw came after I saw pictures of myself during our destination wedding in Mexico. The experience of being married to the most beautiful woman in the world is something I will treasure for the rest of my life, but my stomach turned when I really took a look at myself…there I was this fat guy in a white suit. It was there I decided enough was enough, I didn’t know how the hell this guy took over my life these past eleven years but it was time for him to go.
I started devising a plan to eliminate this person I had become and get my physical life back on track, and I would like to share both my experience and advise with those on here who are either trying or have not taken that step yet.
#1: DO NOT SET A GOAL FOR YOURSELF…do not say I’m trying to work to become 150 or 120 pounds at such and such time, because if you don’t reach those goals you’re going to be depressed and quit. Changing the way you look should not be a goal change; it should be a life style change. You have to look at this as this is what I plan to do for the rest of my life because I want to be here as long as I possibly can, and it is proven that working out and eating healthy leads to a longer and healthier life, so damn setting goals.
#2: PAIN IS PAIN…there is no such thing as good pain so don’t let any trainer tell you that crap, every time you work out your muscles are being torn apart and when you rest they heal that’s how they build to become stronger. The key is learning to endure that pain in order to keep going where the pain is tolerable and because in the end it will lead to you become healthier.
#3: THROW AWAY THE DAMN SCALE…I mean it do not weight yourself. A lot of reason why people up and quit working out is because they work out for awhile, they start weighing themselves, see that they’re not losing any weight and then just up and quit. Number one, muscle weights more than fat so if you’ve been working out for awhile and see no weight loss or gained some weight it’s probably because you’ve gained muscle under your fat i.e. why you’re either the same or heavier. So do not weight yourself, remember this is a life style change and the fat will eventually go. The reward you should be looking for is when your clothes begin to sag off of you and you have to buy new ones to fit your new size.
#4: BUY AN MP3 PLAYER, GOOD HEADPHONES, AND CRACK IT UP…Another reason people get discouraged is when they enter the gym they see all the healthy people there and they get discouraged and want to leave. Number one you’re not there for them, you’re there for yourself, but I’ve been there and wanted to run too. I thank God for my IPod because once I put it on and crack it up I get into a zone and see no one around me, good music gets me motivated where I stay focused and work out harder and more effectively so I suggest investing in one.
#5: 30 MINUTES…THAT IS ALL YOU NEED…30 to 45 minutes for 3 to 4 days a week is all you need to get a good workout if you do it right. I’m fortunate enough to have a gym on the premise of my job, and I’m able to do my workouts during my lunch break, for those who have hectic lives there has got to be 30 minutes you can find to work out, if not you need to start thinking about a serious life change. Stop surfing the web so much, knock off the twittering, or give Face book a rest; and if you’re a video game addict there’s no excuse now that they have games where you can both work out and play at the same time too.
If you’re old fashioned like me a little bit of advice is:
1) Do not do either the treadmill or the stair stepper, depending on your weight you will hurt yourself, or damage your knee because of the shock of the weight coming down on it. Stick to the elliptical machine which takes you off the ground and the stationary bike.
2) Don’t need a whole lot of sets to get a good work out, especially when you don’t have the time. I do a full body work out in 30 minutes by doing the following.
10 minutes – bike or elliptical machine to warm up.
1 Set - 20 – 25 reps bench press (light weight)1 Set - 20 – 25 reps incline bench press (light weight)
1 Set - 20 – 25 reps decline bench press (light weight)
1 Set - 20- 25 reps dumbbell curls (light weight)
1 Set - 20 – 25 reps triceps extensions (light weight)
Rest – 2 minutes1 Set - 20 – 25 reps bar bell squats (comfortable weight)
1 Set - 25 – 30 reps leg extensions (comfortable weight)
1 Set - 25 – 30 reps leg press (comfortable weight)
Crunches (I usually pick a song and do it till it ends, you can do it till you can’t do any more)
15 - 30 minutes – bike or elliptical machine to finish off.
#6: DON’T BE AFRAID TO EAT…eating is key to losing weight, if you starve yourself or eat less your body will lose weight slower because it’s trained to have a certain amount of food it in. A good breakfast in the morning is key, light snacking in the middle (I usually eat peanuts or popcorn), a nice lunch, more snacking if you’re hungry, and a small dinner. The key is the CUT OFF POINT which should be before five or six o’clock. Eating after seven when you know you’re just going to lounge around before you go to sleep is what keeps the weight on, and NO midnight snacking.
#7: DO NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP…And this is VERY important, if someone told me eleven years ago I would be in this situation I would laugh in their face, but that’s the funny thing about life; if you’re not looking it comes in fast and unexpected. There will be times when you slip up and have that burger with a side of fries, it’s okay to cheat; the key is LIFE STYLE change there is NOTHING wrong with eating burgers and fries, it’s when the burger and fries is all that you eat that is when you have a problem.
The end result to this is after three months I feel great, my clothes are starting to sag, I see muscle tone and definition; I have a ton more energy than I had in the past, and I feel myself getting stronger and stronger every day. I plan to join a gym with my lovely wife soon so we can both work out together because I want us both to be together hopefully into our twilight years.
I won’t lie…I do have ONE goal, and that’s to dress-up as John Stewart for Halloween, so I am working toward that Green Lantern body, and when I reach it I plan to post pictures for everyone to see. If you’ve been where I’ve been or are still there, need some words of encouragement, advice or a support system feel free to drop me a line. Know that you’re not alone, the road can be hard, but it’s not impossible to overcome and get to where you want to go.
Thank you for reading.