Four years after losing 180 pounds, it's time to tone up
The year 2004 was a turning point in my life. Starting the year weighing in at a robust 410 pounds, I had a steep hill to climb to get my life back. But the great thing was I had a proven plan in place that merely needed to be implemented and executed. And the rest they say is history!
It's no secret that the Atkins diet worked and worked AMAZINGLY well on me unlike any other diet I had ever been on. The low-carb lifestyle is so easy to follow and much more pleasurable than the same old tired low-fat, low-calorie diets we've always been told is "healthy" that I can't understand why anyone would want to eat any other way. Unless you are a glutton for punishment, it doesn't make sense to NOT be livin' la vida low-carb. But that's just me.
However, I do want to share one major regret that I have about my weight loss experience four years ago. As awesome an accomplishment that it was (and I'll never deny the positive impact it made on my life for the better) and as good as I have felt ever since taking the weight off, I wish I had been taught how to do resistance training and gotten comfortable with it as part of my workout routine.
In my book about my weight loss experience, I wrote a chapter called "Exercise Is Not A Dirty Word" and it's true. As much as people moan and complain about not having time to exercise, lacking any energy to commit to a regular routine, and any number of other useless excuses that are bantered about by the usual suspects, the fact is there is no excuse good enough for NOT taking care of your physical body. After all, God only gives you one, so you need to do what you can with what you've got.
For me when I was losing weight, that meant cardiovascular exercise galore. As much as I HATED the treadmill when I first started and was gasping for air after 15 minutes at 3mph, today I can easily go 30-45 minutes on an elliptical machine at 8-9mph with 12 resistance and get a good workout.
I'll admit that in 2007 I have been a little slack with my regular cardio primarily because my free YMCA gym membership I used to get with my old job expired and I never renewed or joined elsewhere. I still play volleyball on Tuesday nights at my church for a good FREE two-hour workout, but that was pretty much it for exercise during the week for most of this year. I didn't think much of it, though, since I'm only maintaining my weight now and not actually losing anymore. Thoughts that I didn't really need a lot of exercise anymore made their way into my cranium.
Boy was I wrong!
Although my weight has remained pretty steady over the past few months, I've noticed it start to slowly do the creepy crawly thing. Anyone who has lost a significant amount of weight and tried to keep it off for any length of time knows what I'm talking about. You wake up, step on the scale, and you're up a pound. Next morning, same routine, up another pound with no real changes in your diet. Hey, it happens. You don't panic.
But then those pounds sorta hang around and don't really go away. Again, it happens and you just keep doing what you know got you to where you are now. I liken it to being in a weight loss stall which I had one that lasted for TEN STRAIGHT WEEKS during my weight loss in 2004. Instead, this is a weight maintenance stall and it can be a bit more complicated. However, the same principle stands--keep working the plan and eventually you'll break out of it and return to your pre-stall weight. It's happened several times since I started maintenance in 2005.
I know all that in my head, but sometimes you can't help but let yourself get disappointed by how you look without a shirt on. IT'S EMBARRASSING! Those pictures of me without a shirt on at the top of this blog post were taken of me tonight and quite frankly I'm ashamed to look like that. Yes, it's a whole lot better than when I weighed 410 pounds, but I wanna look ripped and toned--not droopy and have the appearance of being "fat" (although I know that's not fat, it sure looks like it to the naked eye!). I want to look as good as I feel!
So I'm marking today, December 13, 2007 down as the official beginning date of the next chapter in my health and fitness life. This is the day I began in earnest what I resolved to do on January 1st this year--GET SERIOUS ABOUT RESISTANCE TRAINING!
Quite frankly, the "good intentions" part of me REALLY wanted to do it all year, but I've just dragged my feet. Life and all the intricacies that come with it have gotten in the way because I've allowed it to. We MAKE time for what we think is most important and apparently on a subconscious level I didn't see this as something I needed to do like I did losing weight in 2004. That fire that burned within me during my weight loss didn't even flicker a little spark in regards to weight training.
Several months ago, though, I signed up with a personal trainer for two hours worth of sessions to kickstart me into lifting weights and having assistance with something that is completely foreign to me. I can do cardio 'til the cows come home, but with lifting weights I'm totally clueless about how to even start. That's why I needed help. But I drug my feet some more and only called him about doing those sessions a couple of weeks ago.
A few weeks back, I joined a local gym called Peak Fitness and I REALLY like it a lot. The people who work there are super-friendly and they don't judge you for how you look. It's sorta in between the high-brow nature of a place like Gold's Gym where you have to look like Ahhhnold to be respected and those local gyms that only have a few select pieces of equipment and that's about it. I've been impressed by the availability of virtually any machine I need every single time I've gone there day or night--and they're open 24 hours a day! Sweet! Midnight workout, anyone? :D
But tonight I felt an inkling within me that the time was right for me to make that commitment to do something about my upper body strength. While my legs are arguably the most physically attractive part of my body because of all the cardio I have done (the definition in my thighs and calves is very noticeable and I've taken great pride in that), my arms, chest and abs are pitiful looking. Well, you know that for yourself now that you've seen my pictures.
What did I do to seal the deal on that commitment? I hired a personal trainer. Watching professional trainers like Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels working those courageous contestants on "The Biggest Loser" as hard as they do, I've always wanted to have a trainer to do that for me, too. I literally motivated myself to do the cardio in 2004 that was an integral part of my 180-pound weight loss success, but I've needed somebody to get me going with weight lifting and getting into a regular routine. And that's what I'll be doing from now on over at least the next 12 months.
I'm signed up to work twice a week for 30-minute sessions with a certified personal trainer and may increase that if I feel I need more personal attention. I especially like the trainer they started me out with tonight. He looks absolutely amazing with guns that I'd love to have and I told him I'd like to get to where he is physically by this time next year. Without flinching a bit and with a smile on his face, he assured me he could help get me to that goal if I put forth the effort.
You know me, I'm up for a good challenge. And this is it. That New Year's resolution I wanted to start in January 2007 is about 11 1/2 months late, but I'm doing it now...better late than never! My body still aches from top to bottom after my first session even now hours after my first training session, but as John Cougar Mellencamp used to sing, it "hurts so good!" I'm ready to do this and am as excited about getting stronger in my upper body as I was losing weight in 2004.
I'll be popping in with my progress from time to time and posting pictures when I start to see differences happening. I just want to be stronger and look good without a shirt on. That's been a real dream of mine ever since I kissed 400 pounds goodbye and I believe it can still happen with the right effort. My trainer said he could tell I was pretty healthy and did lots of cardio because my breathing was good during the workout. Now we need to add some muscle to that endurance and get Jimmy Moore looking the way he needs to be.
Working with a trainer helps you to use the equipment properly, and is a great motivator since you have paid for the session. When you hit a plateau, change the routine or intensity, since your body gets used to doing the same routine and needs to be challenged. Good luck.