Food and Fitness

It’s a bird!!! It’s a plane!!! Nope it’s the sweaty guy!!!

Yup....thats me the big sweaty guy in green.

Yup….thats me the big sweaty guy in green.

So for the longest time when I first started going to the gym, I would just go in, workout, shower and go home. It was just me and my iPod. I would quietly move through the weight machines and then do some cardio. Thirty minutes on the elliptical, and then thirty or more on the treadmill, that was my cardio workout. This all changed one day when my wife was telling one of the trainers that her husband was here all the time. The trainer didn’t know who I was so she looked up my picture in the computer. The trainer’s comment when she saw the picture was “Oh…..the sweaty guy”……yup that was me!

Not to gross you out, but when I started working out……boy would I sweat. I was the triple sweat threat: overweight, out of shape, and Greek (yup my family sweats a lot). So hence the title.

I’m not saying anything that hasn’t already been said. Taking the first step is hard……yup it is. I want to try to convince you that YOU should do the same and let you know that it WILL GET BETTER!!!

I was YOU!!! I’m not saying it to be mean, I want you to know I understand what your thinking right now because that was me.

“I don’t want to be that fat guy that everybody looks at at the gym” or “gyms are just for fitness freaks and muscle heads”. Well let me tell you this……I was the fat guy and yes people were looking as I struggled at the start, but guess what? Those same people are now the ones that come up to me and complement me on my hard work, or tell me how much I inspire them. Those first couple of weeks, were tough. I would struggle mightily at times but I would keep pushing. Keep in mind that I was out of work, so I really had nothing else to do but look for a job and go to the gym. Now I know that time is a luxury and not everyone will have the amount of time I had, but if you do one thing for yourself, GET OUT AND EXERCISE.

“But Chris, between work, the kids, and life in general, where do I find the time?” Consider this. Part of my journey was becoming more aware of what I was eating. To do this, I used the LoseIt app on my iPhone. Essentially what I was doing was creating a food diary. It sucked at first, because you start to play mind games with yourself on what to log and what not to log. It was about the third time I started using the app that I decided that I was going to be “all in” this time. So as I was creating this diary (or “journal” for the men out there) I was noticing where I could start to reduce my caloric intake. I was looking back and realizing what I was eating, but more importantly, WHEN!

I started to look at the “whens” of my eating and saw that a GOOD amount of that time was spent sitting on the couch watching TV. It may have been in the morning before the family wakes up (I’m an early riser) or in the evening just watching TV. Well guess what I figured out………..the time on the couch was some of my worst eating habits. Now I know I am stating the obvious, but this was news for me. So I said to myself “self…..how about instead of dropping on the couch in the morning and eating four eggs and four slices of toast, let me get my ass to the gym” My point being, as you start to look at your eating habits, you can find some time. Now I’m not saying that’s the silver bullet to finding time, but its a START! That is really the point…..GET STARTED!!

Once you get started, the next question is “How do I stay motivated?” Well there were several things I did to keep that momentum and sweat some more. First thing was DON’T DO IT ALONE! I will tell you, when I started, as I said above, I was the quiet iPod guy (to me I was, to everyone else apparently I was the sweaty guy). It would suck at times, being there alone. Not that I wanted to go there to be chatty because I was on a mission, but do yourself a favor and talk to the staff and trainers. Tell them what you’re trying to do. I would guess that most of the time, they would be glad to help out. I’m not saying you need a personal trainer, but just a person who trains. Over time, the relationships that grew from those conversations has grown to a point now that when I’m at the gym, they (lets call them Laura and Jesse) could tell by watching me when I was slacking,  getting bored, or just wanted to mix it up. They would come over and just chat with me, maybe bust my stones, but what they were actually doing, and again without me noticing, they were getting me to push myself a little more……DAMN THEM!!! To this day, They still push me adn are always willing to help. Just the other day, Laura came up to me to see what I was up to. I told her I was in the final three weeks of training for a Sprint Triathlon. No sooner were those words out of my mouth that she build a new workout for me.

The other best helper I had to keep me motivated was my wife Tabetha. In the beginning we would go to the gym together. How did this keep me motivated? Two reasons. One, is the obvious, we were doing this together. We were improving ourselves together. Not only physically, but mentally. The second reason, for me, is the most compelling. Here I am out of shape and struggling, but I would see my wife, who was also overweight and out of shape and with the added challenge of Multiple Sclerosis. So what was my excuse for not pushing myself? Exactly…..none! She is down several sizes and over 80 lbs. More important then that…….before the change, MS was managing her life…..well guess what…..now SHE manages her MS.

So now with all this motivation, and support, I had to keep going…..there was no way I could stop. It was actually kind of amazing to feel. Week after  week, I would continue pushing myself just a little more. Why? It’s not only that I was changing on the outside, but I could feel the changes on the inside and see the numbers dropping on the scale.

What was I feeling on the inside? Energy!!! Power!!! Control!! Self confidence!!! All the things I was lacking when I was overweight.  Also the numbers on the scale started to decrease. This was always an issue with my wife though. She would get so upset that I was dropping up to 5 lbs a weeks at first (all that sweating). After a few weeks things really started to pick up. The food log was growing, and we were starting to make better food choices. Our eating habits were starting to change significantly. This in turn continued to motivate us to continue to work out. If it wasn’t at the gym, it was on my bike, or walking through the neighborhood. There was always something going on. Let me put it this way. The more we did, the more we changed, things started to get better, physically and mentally. Things were stating to connect for our bodies. The diet change and exercise were starting to feed the desire to do better and push more.

Yup......thats me sweating away!!!! Im surprised my brother and daughter put there arms around me

Yup……thats me sweating away!!!! Im surprised my brother and daughter put their arms around me

So this went on for six months. I returned to work that July. So here I am, coming off a incredible six months of change and now I’m heading back to what use to be the “normal” routine. Get up, go to work, and come home. Now I was faced with the time issue again. I had to make a decision and figure out how I can continue the new “normal”, which included eating right and working out regularly. So I made a conscious decision to make time to work out. It did involve making changes to habits at home, but more importantly, Tabetha stepped up even more to support me. This would allow me to go to the gym after work. She would run the kids all around to appointments, sports and other activities, again pushing herself to do more than she could in the past. Oh did I mention she was still working out in the morning!!

I also had to work on shortening my routine. I didn’t want to lose any momentum I had so I asked the trainers to help me put a more compact routine together. I would also reduce the amount of days I was there from six to four. My workouts became more precise and more focused. Now there were times where this created some tension and stress in our life, but for both of us, we understood why. I use to say that sometimes you need to be selfish when trying to change your life, and I still believe that to a point. What I realize now, it was Tabetha who was being SELFLESS and putting my goals first.

So again with this change in going back to work, I drew on the two things I mentioned at the start. Don’t do it alone and ask for help.

As I was preparing to write this, I reached out to a friend of mine who has recently started her own weight loss journey. Over the past few weeks, she would comment on how myself and some of her other friends have lost weight and changed their lives. I wanted to get another perspective. So I asked her to tell me what and why  got her  started. What I received back was more than I could ever expect. I want to share an excerpt from what she wrote. I feel this drives home exactly the points I am trying to make.

“For the first time in my life, a physician didn’t say “Everything looks good. Just lose some weight.” Instead, he said “You’re 42 years old, you’re premenopausal, your family has a history of heart disease AND diabetes and you drink fewer than 12 ounces of water a day. Worse, you don’t exercise! What are you going to DO about it?” This doctor held me accountable. I’m glad he did! I started thinking about going to the gym at that point, but it still took me a month to walk through the door.

During that month, I started to pay attention to everyone around me. I don’t know why. I guess that maybe I was just ready to finally hear it. Your successes and those of a few others who have lost 50+ pounds over the last couple of years really hit home. Chris, I’ve known you since we were about 9 years old. I know how hard it must have been for you! It finally occurred to me that if you could do it, I could to. I went to the gym the next day. My stepdaughter went with me, and together, we go every other day and I have additional training that I do with a personal trainer.

I am only getting started, but I know I can do it. Staying motivated, watching what I eat, drinking water (sorry, Diet Coke!), and moving as often as I can will get me there. I’ll work on my inner demons later. For now, I’m hoping it’s enough to put in some hours at the gym and start chipping away at my first goal. Just think about the confidence I’ll build along the way as I reach each goal!”

Why am I sharing this? Because SHE GETS IT!!! She is going to the gym with her stepdaughter, and also working with a trainer. She is making use of the support system around her and paving the way for greater success.

We continued our discussion talking about goals. Well lets just say our goal, along with many others, is to lose weight. Thats awesome!!! My advise to anyone who is thinking of getting started, is set the big goal, but in order to succeed you need some small goals along the way. These are the ones that will keep you going back to the gym, or logging your food, or getting off the couch. Don’t make the task too daunting right out of the gate. Make in manageable.

As my experience continues to unfold, I always remember and go back to the things that got me started. Support from friends and family, asking for help when I need it, and the smallest goals are the most important. They are attainable, and you can do it!!!

So if you’re not convinced yet that you need to get out there, come back next week, when I back up my story with the numbers.

See you then and GET OUT THERE!!!

Now its sweating for a good reason.....and a little mud too.

Now its sweating for a good reason…..and a little mud too.

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