Getting Back In Shape

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Thursday, April 9, 2009
"I'm not fat, but I'm not skinny." You've probably heard a lot of people say that and you might have said that yourself. From comparing the different people that have said it, you realize that people have a very distorted view of their own physical fitness.

If you want to have a good idea of where you stand, try computing your body mass index (BMI). If you have a normal weight, your BMI will be in the 18.5 - 24.9 range. 25-29.9 and you're overweight. Over 30, you're considered obese.

This is just a rough guide. If you were 6' tall and 250lbs but completely ripped, it wouldn't mean anything, but for most people, this should give you some idea of where you're at.

Even at my heaviest, I have never fallen into the obese category, but I could stand to lose a few lbs. I'm definitely overweight according to my BMI index. Now, I have two choices. I can gain 6 inches in height, or I can try and lose around 25lbs. I'm already tall enough and can't figure out how to get any taller, so I'm going to have to lose some weight.

This is one of the things I started to push myself to do and I'll use this blog as a record of my progress and things I learn along the way.

A bit of history

In the past, I would have ups and downs in weight and fitness levels. I've never been particularly athletic or a fitness nut, but exercising and being more active were things that I would do off and on. I would go to the gym to use cardio and weight training equipment, I have had some home exercise equipment and weight sets, I would bike more frequently, things like that.

I'd never be on the cover of Men's Fitness, but I was pretty comfortable with my weight.

Maybe a year ago (or more), I checked my blood pressure and I was in shock. Seeing how high my blood pressure was really scared me. My at rest heart rate was very high too. I was well into the prehypertension zone, sometimes sneaking into State 1. This put me in a higher risk for some serious health problems.

I hadn't weighed myself in some time and I almost didn't want to know. But I went looking for my scale, calibrated it and the news wasn't good. I was 20lbs heavier than I thought I was, which was already 20lbs heavier than I wanted to be.

How to get started losing weight

I knew that I had to do something about it, there was no question about it. This time though, my options were a little more limited. I haven't really found a gym near my new home that I liked. They all seemed too expensive and at the time, saving money was important. (When isn't it?) I had a weight set somewhere in storage, but what I really needed was to get my heart in better shape.

I needed to do some sort of cardio and I decided to start slow. In the past, I would start out really hard, get really sore, and have a hard time convincing myself to do it again the next couple of days while my muscles were aching. It wasn't sever pain, so I'd push through it, but I didn't want to do that again. So this time, I decided it was time to start walking. And that's what I did. Every day, at least 30 minutes a day. Not a leisurely stroll, but not a dorky power walk either. Just a brisk walk, at my normal pace, which is already pretty fast.

After a couple of weeks of just walking, I got my bike out of storage and started adding a couple of days of bike riding each week. Each week pushing myself to ride longer and faster.

It was going to start getting colder soon, so I started looking for some used exercise equipment. People buy stuff all the time and never use it, so used exercise equipment tends to be in good shape. The good stuff anyway, not the 3 easy payments of $39.99 they sell at 3am. I actually managed to find something someone was throwing out. Tightened a few nuts and screws, a bit of cleaning and lubricating bearings and it was as good as new.

I wasn't weighing myself regularly, but I was checking my blood pressure a lot. It didn't take long for my blood pressure and heart rate to go back to normal. Maybe a couple of months. A bit after that I checked my weight and I had lost 40lbs.

I didn't obsess about diet, but I did try and eat healthier. No fast food, except the occasional pizza and Chinese in healthy portions, and a whole lot of water. 8-10 glasses every day.

And then...

So, a little bit of willpower when it came to food, and 30-60 minutes of exercise a day. It wasn't very hard. It was very cheap too. In fact, I didn't spend a dime since I already had a bike and I picked up something free on Craigslist. This was the most progress I had made even compared to times in the past when I would go to the gym on a regular basis.

But then something happened. I can't remember what. Maybe I got wrapped up with a project or a number of different things pilled up, and I didn't push myself anymore. I gained back almost half the weight, but my blood pressure and heart rate wasn't so bad.

This is the problem I run into and I'm going to try hard to not let that happen again. That's why I created this blog. To keep track of what I'm up to and hopefully keep me from slipping.

What's next in my fitness program?

Now I have to start over and I want to do things a little differently. While I lost weight and got healthier last time, I didn't gain much muscle, except in my legs. This time I wanted to add more weight training to build upper body strength.

This time around, I could afford to spend a little bit of money so I started looking for a set of adjustable dumbbells. One of the things I liked about going to the gym is the ease of changing weights on the machines. I would frequently do drop sets, where you start at one weight and at the end of the set, drop the weight down and do another set. The weight set I have, which you add plates then screw on a piece to hold them on the bar, isn't fast enough to do that.

As I was searching around for reviews and dumbbell exercises to give me some new ideas, one thing kept popping up over and over everywhere I looked. The P90X Home Workout Program. Since it was an infomercial product, I was a little hesitant, but the more I looked into it the more I liked it. Plus, P90X is available from so I could bypass some of the things that make infomercial products annoying. I don't think I've ever bought anything from an infomercial, but I've seen plenty of complaints about how they over charge, add subscriptions and other recurring charges you didn't want. Using Amazon should avoid all that.

It's more than I was planning on doing, but we'll see how it goes.

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