Encouragment in trying to lose weight/get fit

robby denning

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Got a PM on this and asked the author if I could share it on a thread as it's a very typical question I get in the training world at least once a week: I copied/pasted the PM here with permission; I'll keep it anonymous:

"Encouragement needed
Got a training question for you. I know I'm being impatient with my training and progress. I will say that up front first. However, I feel like I should have made a lot more progress than what I've made in my training routine. I'm not a casual fitness guy. I grew up powerlifting and bodybuilding (briefly) and as an athlete. I let myself go completely after marriage, and I am working hard to get back to what I felt the most comfortable weight for me was. This may be difficult, but I will keep striving for that. Weightlifting comes incredibly easy for me, and I am able to pack on muscle and strength very easily. Cardio has never been my favorite, but I am working on that. I started changing my lifestyle on Jan. 1, and to date I have lost right at 40 lbs. I am still holding a lot of fat, and I believe that I can drop another 40-50 lbs. With counting my calories and beginning CrossFit, I have even broken through a three or four week plateau. However, I am still discouraged. I know it took me a long time to get up to this weight, but I feel like I should have progressed at least another 10 lbs by this time. I know my diet has not always the cleanest, but I don't do anything that is drastic. I am new to counting calories, so I hope that has a dramatic effect on my diet. I guess I was wondering if you just might have some encouragement or words to get me through this funk. I get on the Body for Life website, and I'm looking at guys that have lost 50-90 lbs in 12 weeks. I keep thinking, "What the heck am I doing to not be at that level?" After your comments on the diet thread, I know I have been eating more calories than I should've, and I've been taking measures to correct that over the last week and a half. I work out very hard, giving it my all. I know I'm getting stronger, and I know that I'm getting more endurance than I've had in years. But...I still feel that I should be making progress in leaps and bounds, and I guess everything has slowed down. Should I be doing normal weightlifting workouts in addition to CF? I would like to look better as opposed to just continuing the workouts in CF and getting more strength, stamina and endurance. What would you tell your clients in a situation like this? I know you have to assume a lot, and that you don't know me from squat, but I am honest with myself in my training because I have a tremendous desire to improve. The weight I've lost is only the beginning, and I need to take it to the next level. Can you help me or encourage me?"


Well, I'd anwser you this way: In my field, we work with clients from very sedentary/new to exercise all the way to professional athletes, and one thing I've learned is that we are all different! Comparing ourselves to the progress others have made can be productive, but can only go so far before it becomes a detriment. I've seen average guys get to 8% body fat but complain because they don't have the abs of so-'n-so or women who look fantastic but say they are fat. Don't get caught in this trap. Take a look at what is realistic for you and go for it. If you make that goal and can reasonably set another, higher goal, then do so.

I say this first because I find this "just buckle down and do it" attitude often leaves people feeling empty if they weren't blessed with the genetics and personality that so many top athletes have. Now I'm not saying just accept the way you are either, as we all can strive to be better than we are- just make sure when you're looking at a picture of a guy with 6% body fat, great abs, and can run the mile in 4:30 that you're not setting yourself up for failure if you don't make those numbers. Be the best that YOU can be is the advice I give and try to live by personally.

OK with that out of the way, I'll point out that you've given yourself a reality check when you said "I know I'm being impatient with my training and progress."

Yip, you are.

You said you've lost 40 pounds since Jan 1- that is 16 weeks and averages about 2.5 pounds per week! Which is incredible and I say good job to you.

However, consider that all the good data says 1-2 pounds per week is about all that is safe and sustainable. I won't debate the safe part as most people unfortunately don't really care about safe if they get the results, but I'm big on the sustainable part. People losing much more than 2 pounds per week usually are doing something (extreme dieting or training) that they can't sustain and so naturally the weight will come back when they stop- and for one reason or another they do stop in most cases as extreme can't be a lifestyle for most unless you've got a million dollar contract per year to keep you motivated to that level.

Odds are very good that after you got married and gained all the weight you mentioned, that you did NOT gain it at 2.5 pounds per week, but much slower. Also, as you gained that weight you "gained" habits that lead to the weight gain- eating more, eating junky, sedentary (by the way all of which I've fallen to at one time or another). That was a lifestyle you took on over years time and is why your weight was up. Now you are trying to take on a new lifestyle (great job!) and the key word is "lifestyle" and you must give it time to become a habit, just like weight gain became a habit.

Even if your weight loss slowed to 0.5 pounds per week, that would be 25 pounds less a year from now! Statistically speaking you'd have a greater chance of keeping that weight off, too, as you are adopting a lifestyle that is more sustainable.

My advice would be to start a journal. Of course record all the workout stuff, calories, nutrition but just as important your emotions and life events surrounding this great journey you've begun. Why? Because likely it will be a long journey with high points and low points, success and failures, and lots of emotion. By journaling, you can learn about yourself and what does and doesn't work. Also, make a commitment to do a weekly weigh-in (fun when you're losing, but not so fun when you're not) so you can see on a graph what a year or more (I have 10 years of graphs on myself) of weight loss/gains fluctuations look like so you can plan accordingly. The data will become more valuable as the years go by and you won't be left looking at others, who are completely different than you are, to set your goals by.

Many people are surprised that a 20+ year trainer doesn't just say "man up- YOU CAN DO IT"! I believe you can do it, but that 20 years has taught me that life happens to every person and shapes them in certain ways from eating habits, relationship issues (which have a huge effect on weight/fitness), job responsibilities, etc. Throw into that your God-given genetics- which so far can't be changed- and you have the person you are. From that point, you start to become better through hard work and smart training.

This probably isn't what you expected and might not be that helpful, but I can tell you it is reality. Now reach down deep (or up), and give it the best you've got. If you fall down (you will! we all do), get back up and keep pushing forward and for goodness sakes, be careful who you compare yourself to.

On your training questions:

Last we checked, Body for Life coaches a 40%:40%:20% carb: protien:fat diet which is effective but really hard to follow for most non-pro athletes. They also coach interval cardio and hypertrophy weight training. Reading your workout, you are not doing that. Also, remember they have access to thousands and thousands of followers and pick the best of the best to promote their products. I'm not against their program, just recognizing that few people stick with it long term.

While I like Crossfit, you and everyone needs to recognize that it leans towards endurance training. That is why I like it as it is perfect for hunters. We don't have to lift the whole elk! so gaining tons of muscles isn't really necessary. Plus on the mountains I hunt, you can't wear beach attire so it doesn’t matter if my body fat is 6% or 15%- as long as it's healthy- as no one is going to see my abs.

Obviously I'm being sarcastic, but as I've argued on several threads, if you're doing endurance style training vs. hypertrophy training (muscle building) don't expect to look like the muscle builders UNLESS God gave you the genetics to look like those guys. My staff of trainers joke about this all the time as we hear members say "Why don't I look that that guy or gal?????" Mostly because they don't do what that guy or gal does!

A western hunter needs lots of endurance (cardio system and muscular), good flexibility (prevents injuries, soreness), decent strength, and some muscle mass. A body-builder on a western hunt is ill-prepared for what is required just like a marathon-only runner would be (although either would do better than a fat couch potato!).

Good job on the progress you've made, now keep chugging away and a year from now you'll be even better. NEVER GIVE UP!
 
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Becca

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Thanks, as always for your post, Robby! I am sure a lot of folks, (myself included) will find this encouraging! Even when you want to be healthy, sometimes it is hard to put in the work required to do it, especially when results aren't instantaneous.

I hear you continue to stress long term lifestyle change and steady/sustainable results, which is really so important. I work as an RN in a cardiac care unit, which means I often encounter people on their worst days, after they have landed in the hospital with a scary new diagnosis (heart disease, diabetes or congestive heart failure) or after a heart attack or triple bypass. My patients are often adamant that they have changed their ways, whether it's pledging to exercise, eat right, or quit smoking. Laying in a hospital bed, almost all my patients say they want to get healthier and reduce their cardiac risk, but judging from the number of patients I see back again later, it's harder to put these into practice than many people think. I am afraid that many of them get back to "real life" and discover that it's hard to change those habits when you are back in old routines and surrounded by old triggers.

The patients I see who are most successful, are often the ones that enroll in cardiac rehab (an outpatient group education and exercise program, that works much like a support group for people after cardiac events) and I think it's because of the emphasis on long term lifestyle change, plus the built-in encouragement and support that these folks do so well.

So that got kind of long. I guess I just wanted to share a little perspective on what I see in my job, and also say thanks again for the encouragement. Despite the cookies I had over the weekend, I will keep on exercising and counting calories :)
 

sreekers

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Keep it up! 3 years ago I put on about 35lbs in 6 months or so during the process of a move and a remodel of the house I was trying to sell. Before that whole process I was a workout nut, and still am to some degree today. During the move I was constantly eating fast food, and lots of sugar filled drinks.

I went on a hike and realized that my day pack belt had a buddy hanging over it and that had never been the case before. It took 4 months, but the weight came off, and it has stayed off because of some simple practices. The vast majority of which Robby discussed in the Diet thread.

Keep it up, the battle is a slow one and you are doing the right thing by asking questions and getting educated. Robby doesn't cut corners with his approach and knows his stuff! We have a great resource on this site with guys who do things the right way! You will get there!
 

marshrat

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Thanks, Robby. I appreciate it very much. Takes a lot for me to discuss these kinds of things, but I know I'm on the right track. Been struggling with this for a long time, and I appreciate your help tremendously. That is exactly what I needed to hear.
 

marshrat

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Thanks, as always for your post, Robby! I am sure a lot of folks, (myself included) will find this encouraging! Even when you want to be healthy, sometimes it is hard to put in the work required to do it, especially when results aren't instantaneous.

I hear you continue to stress long term lifestyle change and steady/sustainable results, which is really so important. I work as an RN in a cardiac care unit, which means I often encounter people on their worst days, after they have landed in the hospital with a scary new diagnosis (heart disease, diabetes or congestive heart failure) or after a heart attack or triple bypass. My patients are often adamant that they have changed their ways, whether it's pledging to exercise, eat right, or quit smoking. Laying in a hospital bed, almost all my patients say they want to get healthier and reduce their cardiac risk, but judging from the number of patients I see back again later, it's harder to put these into practice than many people think. I am afraid that many of them get back to "real life" and discover that it's hard to change those habits when you are back in old routines and surrounded by old triggers.

The patients I see who are most successful, are often the ones that enroll in cardiac rehab (an outpatient group education and exercise program, that works much like a support group for people after cardiac events) and I think it's because of the emphasis on long term lifestyle change, plus the built-in encouragement and support that these folks do so well.

So that got kind of long. I guess I just wanted to share a little perspective on what I see in my job, and also say thanks again for the encouragement. Despite the cookies I had over the weekend, I will keep on exercising and counting calories :)
My dad has had three heart attacks, a pulmonary embolysm and has even spent a month on a ventilator. That was five or so years ago, and I still remember the way he looked in the hospital. Sadly, that didn't motivate me. My kids are young, and they don't deserve to have a father who was headed down that same road. My wife doesn't deserve to have a husband that will be an unhealthy burden on her as well. I'm doing it for my wife and kids, but I also have something to prove to myself. I know I can be better, and I know that I have a greater purpose and ability than where I am now. I'm going to keep the flame alive, and I want my family to be proud of me. Thanks for all the encouraging words.
 

DEW

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Great read Robbie. I keep comming back to this part of the site to keep educating myself. Seems like alot of the questions are ones that alot of folks have and to get such detailed answers is awesome. Thanks to everyone for their contributions...
 
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robby denning

robby denning

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Becca! I didn't know you are an RN. That is great stuff you shared and is really the reality of what is going on around us. With heart disease the number one killer of men AND women in America, we all need to be aware of how to prevent it. It's not just exercise, but diet and exercise done properly and over many years.

Lifestyle is what causes it, and lifestyle is what reverses/prevents it.

(and I had some cookies this weekend too, no big deal! Just keeping the focus on the long term and good choices most of the time.)
 
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robby denning

robby denning

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jamaro, I loved the blog! especially the meal part- hilarious and so true!

had to laugh out loud when I read the line about "in 30 years you can't say you didn't know ho-ho's were bad"!

Thanks for sharing and good work on the bod- you're making big changes. Keep it up! for life!
 

marshrat

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I read that story a few months ago. I really used it as motivation. Thanks for posting.
 

Becca

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Becca! I didn't know you are an RN. That is great stuff you shared and is really the reality of what is going on around us. With heart disease the number one killer of men AND women in America, we all need to be aware of how to prevent it. It's not just exercise, but diet and exercise done properly and over many years.

Lifestyle is what causes it, and lifestyle is what reverses/prevents it.

(and I had some cookies this weekend too, no big deal! Just keeping the focus on the long term and good choices most of the time.)
Sorry, I guess I should have mentioned it sooner, just looking for the right opening. I actually feel like my training in nursing school was sort of weak with regard to nutrition and activity training, and so while I do counsel a lot of my patients about the fundamentals of healthy lifestyle changes, I feel like I myself still have a lot to learn still.

Cardiac care is an awesome, challenging field, I have worked there almost 6 years and still learn something new almost everyday. The situations and conditions I encounter at work certainly help me stay motivated to stay in shape and try to shoot for a healthy lifestyle. I am amazed by how many in healthcare don't practice what they preach, so to speak. I am a work in progress to be sure, but I would like to at least be trying to model healthy choices for my patients.

And while I enjoyed those oatmeal butterscotch cookies, I am not that great with temptation, so I sent the rest of them bear hunting with Luke...he will be burning lots of energy, and is better than I am at desserts in moderation :)
 

a3dhunter

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Here is a blog I did with WA... i have to look back at it to keep myself MOTIVATED...

http://wildernessathlete.wordpress.com/2011/10/17/34/
Jamaro,
appreciate you posting your experience. Read the whole thing and can appreciate it.

Similar to that, last year January 1st I started a lifestyle change.
I was once again up to 330 lbs, or just shy of it.
I had been here before years ago and had lost down to 265 lbs before my career changed, and the demands on my time changed. To be honest the weight took me by surprise. I had not weighed since I had been 310 lbs, I knew I was a little heavier but expected to be under 315. Once again, I knew what hard work it would take.
Previously I had lost the weight within about 6-8 months, and I had to work hard to maintain.
I knew I wanted to make smaller changes, changes that were more sustainable for the long term this time.

I have made changes and last week went past the 50 lb mark in weight loss after 16 months.
During this time I have had to deal with plantar fasciitis in my feet, and it almost put me where I couldn't even walk.
My weight loss will continue, for the simple fact that I know it can.
I have realistic goals for my body type, and I know where I want to be. It is just a matter of time before I am there.
 
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robby denning

robby denning

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a3d- go man, you're killing it! 50 pounds in 16 months is really good, especially since you are still losing! Your tag line at the bottom says it all.

Another thing I've learned -and am relearning all the time- don't let the weight come back as it's sooo hard to lose again.
 
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rebecca francis

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Robby, I really enjoyed reading this post. I think that first and foremost I would applaud the author for his sincere concern for health. That is where it all begins. EVERYONE needs encouragement. Good health is a life long journey and not you can't be on your A-game all the time. There will be highs and lows. But as long as you keep "good health" as the motivator.....it is easier to stay on the path. I come from a family that everyone is overweight but me. It is in my genetics on both sides. I struggled with my weight in my later teens and vowed never again would I feel like that. But it doesn't come naturally for me. I have to work very very hard to stay in shape. I have been consistently exercising for over 20 years. There are definitely days I want to throw in the towel. And sometimes I take a break. But by taking one day at a time and staying focused on the reason I want to stay healthy, I can pick myself up and go again. Thanks for sharing this message...it is a real motivator in itself.
 
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robby denning

robby denning

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Rebecca, thank you, and that is what everyone needs to hear is that it takes years of work, not perfection. Good to hear from you on this, too.
 

Above Timber

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I will chime in on this with my own experience. I lost my dad about 18 months ago at the age of 64 due to diabetes related health issues. It was a real slap in the face for me. As a person that was very athletic I had settled into a sedentary life style. We all know the drill here, married, with kids, and more responsibilities than time. It is not excuse but it is one that I used for the first 14 years on my marriage as to why I could not workout and stay in shape.

Fast forward to November of 2010, the phone rings at 5:30 am it is my mom on the other end telling me we had lost my dad in the middle of the night. In all reality this is not shocking news as he had been really sick of the last 3 years of his life and bed ridden for the last 9 months before his death. It took me a few months to help my mom with the loss and all that comes with that. But on February 12th, 2011 I made the change. I can tell you the exact date thanks to the journal I have kept on this journey. On February 12th I jumped on the scale and was devastated to read the numbers 220 pounds and 33% body fat. Keep in mind I am 5’-10” and at that time 37 years old. I was fast on my way down the same road my dad was on. As of Sunday I am at 177 pounds and 15% body fat. It has taken me a little of over a year but I have lost 43 pounds and 18% body fat. I wish I could tell people that ask there was a magic bullet. But for those that have lost weight and have kept it off know there is not a magic bullet it takes hard work, determination, and dedication.

I have had ups and downs while on this weight loss journey. I have fluctuated going up and down with my weight but I have stayed positive and motivated. When I hit a plateau I think of my dad and how hard his loss was on my mom and siblings. This usually is enough motivation for me to get off the couch. I do not want my family to go through the same thing I had to 18 months ago. When that is not I look at my wife and two great kids and hit the treadmill or put down the extra slice of pizza.

To all that have posted on this topic congratulations on your successes and remember we all have bad days and will slip from time to time.

Stay positive and best of luck

Jeff
 
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robby denning

robby denning

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Above Timber....WOW!

Worth the whole thread to hear your story and your progress. Great move! Your kids will thank you some day. 64 is not old.
 

Above Timber

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For me I have found running to be a great form of exercise, I take flack when I tell people I run on a treadmill all the time but it works for my family. When I started a year ago I was luck to run 3 miles in 45 minutes, tonight I did 7 miles in 50 minutes and had recovered to my resting heart rate about 15 minutes after I had stopped. I would also recommend a heart rate monitor to keep track of your target heart rate for your cardio days (just one man’s opinion). I hope to get outside this summer with my 12 year old son and hit some mountain trail as well as the Manitou Incline here in the Colorado Springs area. I need to say how important diet is as well. If I had not changed my eating habits as well as running this would not have worked. I used to eat three squares a day, my good South Dakota upbringing, not any more. Now I try to eat 5 small almost snack size meals a day and nothing after 7 pm. I have taken some of my mom's old diabetic cookbooks and have been using recipes out of them. I have also cut out all intentional caffeine no more soda, coffee, or tea. The only tea and coffee I drink in decaf period. I have replaced the soda with water and lots of it more than one grown man should drink in a day :). On average I drink in the neighborhood of 3-6 32 oz. bottles of water a day. I also try to eat only fruits, nuts, veggies, and meat. No boxed meals (rice a roni, hamburger helper) if it is not cooked on my stove, grill, or the occasional night out with the family it does not go in my mouth. Threads like these and the continual one on Bowsite (XX weeks how are you preparing) have also helped to keep me going. I know it sounds silly as well but I love watching the p-90x infomercials the can get me pretty stoked as well. There are times I wish I knew more about nutrition and wellness but we all have our limitations right?

Robby thanks for the encouragement. 64 was way to young to lose my dad he had so much more hunting in him. There will not be a season that passes that I will not long for just one more day afield with him.
 
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DEW

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Great reads and very inspirational. Reading these threads really does keep me motivated and is one hell of an eye opener, learning from everyone's experiences. Thanks to every one that provide information and inspiration on these threads. DEW
 
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