A little history first. You need to know how I got so overweight in the first place.
I started at around 175 pounds, a little heavy, but not horrible. This goes back several years when I left my job and my wife in the same year. Big mistake. I don’t recommend making two life-altering decisions in the same year if you can help it. I am sure these emotional earthquakes impacted my physical, not to mention, emotional, situation.
My brother offered to let me have an office in his suite of offices not far from my apartment. I accepted. He happens to be in the restaurant business and he generously invited me to lunch most days. Because he was in the business he didn’t worry about paying for lunch, so I didn’t have to, either. He ate intelligently and never gained any weight. I, on the other hand, did not and did. I packed on pound after pound, week after week.
After three years of this, I had ballooned up to around 225 pounds and my waistline had swelled to 44 from 36 inches. Looking down at my bulging abdomen one day, I realized it was time to get serious about my condition. At that time I was riding my bike about 9 months out of twelve for something like 2000 miles a year. So, I packed on these pounds in spite of the biking. If I hadn’t been riding, I would have gained even more.
For my weight reduction program, I did not want to count calories. If I had it to do over again, of course, I absolutely would.
At that time I thought that cardio work was the only thing that would burn off fat so I set about doing at least five and often six cardio workouts a week. I would do the treadmill at a 4 mph clip for around 25 to 40 minutes a day. Then log another 15 minutes on the Schwinn Airdyne stationary bike. On alternate days I included resistance work. While I didn’t understand that building lean muscle mass would increase my calorie burn, I was under the impression that working out with weights on a day that you did cardio activity essentially doubled the benefit of the cardio work. Urban legend? Old wives’ tale? I don’t know; I just did it.
At no time did I consult a personal trainer or anyone in the health field, including a doctor. I don’t recommend this last part. You should always get a physical checkup before commencing on an exercise program, but I was younger and dumber at the time.
My weight work was very simple. I used the biggest muscles – back, legs and chest. I found the heaviest weights I could handle and started with three sets of five reps. I did this on each machine. First, leg lifts, then on to lat pull-downs and finally chest presses. Same principle each time – five reps with the heaviest weight I could handle. As weeks passed, I was able to increase the reps to as high as 10 or 11 then added more weight and went back down to five. The weight work took around 10 to 15 minutes. Coupled with the cardio work, I averaged just under an hour a day, but worked out at least five days a week and often seven.
Regarding enjoying the workouts. Maybe I was just lucky, but the fact that I started having success immediately really excited me. I not only enjoyed working out, I actually found myself looking forward to it. The working out translated in my mind to melting away the unsightly fat around my waist. I loved the idea that I was getting control of my weight (and waistline!).
While I didn’t count calories, I tried to eat intelligently. That meant foregoing my former evening snack of a two pound vat of vanilla yogurt – about 800 calories! No wonder my weight shot up like a balloon. Also, I took Sunday off. That is, I would allow myself an ice cream sundae or some pizza once a week. That way I wasn’t white-knuckling it the entire time.
Here is the result. I lost 3/4 of a pound to 1-1/4 pound virtually every week for the year. In addition, my waistline melted from 44 inches to 34 inches. My weight dropped from 225 to 175 pounds. I held that weight until approximately the last year or so when my increased bike riding, calorie counting, portion control and writing this blog took me down to my current weight of around 155 pounds.
I wish I had photos to show of me when I was heavy, but because I didn’t like the way I looked there are very few. Vanity, thy name is Tony.
I hope you can learn something from my recounting of this experience. It is simple fact.
I don’t know that it would necessarily work for you. Every body is different. Consider it a stepping off point. The important thing is to do something.
Trying to lose weight and not succeeding? Quit trying and start doing. Remember what Yoda said, “Try not! Do or do not. There is no trying!”
I have since written a Page – How to Lose Weight and Keep it Off which is loaded with information on the subject.