Friday, May 17, 2013

Off Topic: My tips for diet and exercise

I hear and see on Facebook people talking about losing weight every day.  I don't have all the answers, but I can share what worked for me. In 2011, I weighed 211 pounds at 44 years old and a very slow metabolism.   By August of that year, I had dropped to 170.  This was done by controlling my diet with only a little exercise.  In September 2011, I had a neck/shoulder injury which scared me and convinced me I needed to be stronger.  I had recovered enough by November that I was ready to start building towards the future, which is when I found kettlebells.  It's now May 2013, and I maintain 180 lbs and exercise at least 3-5 days a week.

I'm not a doctor or scientist, but here are my basic diet concepts.  This doesn't deal with everything I do, but it's a good start:

1.  It's not temporary. People say the word diet like it's going to last for 28 days or 6 weeks.  You have to live it.  You have to adopt it as a lifestyle.  If you want to keep the weight off, you have to maintain this new way of eating.

2.  Starches/Carbs = fat.  Bread, crackers/chips, potatoes, and rice are the evil ones.  Try going to a restaurant and ordering something that doesn't automatically come with bread, potatoes, or rice.  It's almost impossible.  They're cheap for the restaurant and they make you feel fuller, thus more satisfied with the meal.  They also make you fat.  If you eat them, you will not lose weight, or at least not as much as you could.  They turn to sugar in your body and the more processed they are, such as ground then reformulated into chips or breakfast cereal, the faster they get absorbed by your body.  Don't eat any of them--no bread, no rolls, no chips, no crackers, no potatoes, no cereal, no rice, nothing white or could be white.

3.  Sugar, don't eat it or drink it.  It's pretty much common knowledge that we should go without eating sweets.  Don't drink it either. Drink water, coffee or tea without sugar.  FRUIT COUNTS AS SUGAR.  Don't eat fruit.

4.  Diet drinks are not good for you.  There are studies saying that the sweeteners used may actually be making people fat, and others that say they cause diabetes.  Not worth it.  Drink water, coffee, or tea.

5. Eat less beef and other fatty meats. 

6. What you get to eat.  You can eat as much as you want when it comes to vegetables (except potatoes), beans, chicken, fish, turkey, and other low fat/no fat foods.  Make sure you increase the amounts of vegetables/legumes.  If you feel hungry, eat some veggies, just stay away from the salad dressing.

That's it.  If you stick to this, you will most likely lose weight.  Once you lose the weight you want, you can decide which "vices" you'd like to re-introduce in moderate quantities, but keep in mind that those moderate quantities have a way of  letting the weight creep back on.

Exercise concepts:

I'm not a runner.  I'm not built for it, never liked it, and decades on a skateboard have left my knees and ankles in a state that isn't conducive to running.  I don't like going to a gym.  If I bought a membership and had to actually go somewhere every day to exercise, I'd never do it.  I'm just too busy.  Gyms make lots of money off of people like me. I don't like big exercise machines or weight benches that take up lots of room and end up as coat hangers.  I don't have enough space in the house.  I wanted something that would increase my strength while giving me a cardiovascular workout at the same time.  Something that didn't require leaving the house and didn't take up much room.

Enter the kettlebell.

I had heard about kettlebells and decided to try them.  I bought a 20 lb kettlebell at Wal Mart and found a few videos on YouTube with proper movements, motions, exercises.  You have to be careful about that, because lots of the "rockstar" exercise people don't know what they're doing.  Search for RKC certified videos, which are the best. 

I was amazed at how this dinky little weight and the movements would get me huffing and puffing.  I moved up to a 35 lb kettlebell and wanted to refine my technique.  I bought "Enter the Kettlebell" by Pavel.  It's a great book, and you can also purchase an accompanying dvd.  Over the months I added a 53 lb and a 70 lb kettlebell to my set.

After doing Pavel's routine, I was looking for more inspiration, so I bought Steve Cotter's The Complete Guide to Kettlebell Lifting, which comes with a dvd.  It's sort of a picture book of techniques and provided the variety I wanted at that time.

While building muscle and slimming and toning my waist, the kettlebells also get my heart rate up.  When doing snatches, it's common for me to hit the 160 mark.  I've worn a holter monitor while exercising and a cardiologist evaluated me and said everything was fine and to keep it up.  Your mileage may vary, so get checked out before you start stressing your heart and other muscles.  Let the doctors do their jobs.

I've refined my exercises to a group that I think provides the best benefit for the time I spend.  I'm 46 and not an athlete, so if you're a pro, disregard all of this.  A  roughly 30 minute workout for me looks like this (weight in front):

Warm up/stretch
35- Halo
35- Round the waist thing
right side plank 60 sec.
level both elbows down plank 60 sec
left side plank 60 sec. (no pauses between planks)
Foam roll my back and legs

Timed--1 minute work with 1 minute rest in between, checking pulse after each exercise to record progress
70- Sumo dead lift
53- one handed swing
70- clean and press
53- snatch

5 minutes:
53- turkish getup (5 or 6 each side)

Winding down:
push ups (usually 40-50)
35- waiter's press (5 each side)
35- bottoms up clean and press (5 each side)

This is where I'm at now, and I'll probably change it in a month.  I'm constantly changing the time of work/rest and the weights I use in different exercises.  The basic rule is start light and slow and work up to the hard stuff.  You don't want to get hurt.

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