Hello once again! So we talked about making a plan and the food portion. Now let’s talk exercise. While for me personally I do feel food played a bigger role for the weight coming off, exercise was no less in overcoming hurdles. Again as I managed my portions, there was only so much (or so little!) I could control / limit. As I mentioned before, I didn’t cut out any food groups, everything in moderation.
We all know exercise is good for you, and yet we don’t partake in it. Why? Often it’s the time factor that we blame but sometimes it’s a lack of motivation or sheer laziness. Yes for this part I will say I was a bit lucky that I didn’t have other responsibilities outside of my own (i.e. spouse, children etc that I would have to adjust around). My biggest challenge, and sometimes bigger than those other responsibilities, was myself. It wasn’t initially the going alone or with people, or making a routine to follow, I had other things to worry about – or so I thought. For me it was “I’m fat, people will stare at me, perhaps point and laugh and so on… I guess I was under that Hollywood thought pattern that only the “perfect people” go to the gym. (Yes, this affects men as well.) But you know what dear readers, people are not there to watch you, they are there to make themselves better as well. And the less you pay attention to them (or talk to them), you’d realize you’re not much different. You are all trying to achieve a healthier lifestyle and are just at different stages of the same game.
My initial gym lifestyle started by going alone, first thing in the morning before work. In order not to become lazy after work (which I knew how I would be) I would go early, get my workout out of the way and not have to worry the rest of the day. That way if I had to study for an exam (was still in school when I started this lifestyle change), meet friends or just relax, I wouldn’t be eaten by guilt – which also meant “eating by guilt”. Going alone wasn’t the most motivating for me however I made sure it became a part of my lifestyle, which is the key here. I didn’t wake up every day and take a few minutes to decide whether I would go or not, I would simply pack my workout gear the night before and not leave myself a choice. I had a colleague who would say he’d go with me every day and every day without fail, he’d bail. If anything, it helped me adapt on not relying on others motivate me.
So I made it to the gym every weekday… great, now what? Another factor one has to look in to is what type of routine you want to go based on your goals. Is it cardio, weights, resistance, toning etc. While I highlight my last post when writing everyone is different, I chose to go strictly with cardio. You will hear a lot about weights burning more calories etc however I wasn’t there yet. If I felt uncomfortable being there in the first place, I couldn’t imagine myself standing next to hulk look-alikes! So here I was, watching what I ate and doing tons of cardio. I was off to a great start!
And great start it was indeed. We all know the initial weight comes off easily which is great to keep us motivated. Who wouldn’t want to see changes that quickly? Reality sets in however once we lost the water weight. This is where the challenge begins. Weight loss slows down and at times you feel like you’ve stagnated. This is where though we’re starting to lose the real weight; the fat.
I had particular goals which I made sure to reach. I wanted to wear a specific suit for a wedding (I wasn’t kidding about that in post #1!), then I was off on a Caribbean vacation later that year etc. and all those “deadlines” definitely helped to keep me on track. There were, of course, weak moments and challenges along the way, which included holidays, parties, and travel. Vacation for me was definitely a difficult time to maintain the routine. Sure I’d always take my gym gear with me but wouldn’t it just sit at the bottom of the suitcase taking valuable souvenir space! Specifically on vacation, it’s still important not to reverse everything you’ve worked so hard on. You’re thinking though, “but I’m on vacation” and I’ll again direct you to some great apps. I have one called “7 minutes”. It just a simple way to get some cardio in (i.e. jumping jacks, pushups etc) in 7 minutes total. I also have tried both the watch what you eat and forget it, I’m on vacation and they both had their advantage within their proper time space. I was transferred to a different office for 6 months last year and didn’t step in to the gym once (I wouldn’t suggest this folks) however since I was away for a long period, I was more cautious about my food, mainly home cooked food, and still managed to lose 12 lbs! On the other side I’ve completely taken a week off, both exercise and food wise. I was mentally prepared (which, til this day is my biggest challenge) for the change on the scale however after going to the gym diligently for months, multiple times a week, the break was a nice change, and helped further push me when I returned to the gym.
When it came to exercise though, I can’t deny that going alone and doing cardio only didn’t get boring, but I changed it up by varying the machines I used, programs within those and even joined group classes at one point when I truly hit a low. I will say, similar to Infusion dance classes, these group fitness classes were a great way to learn, exercise, and have fun all at the same time! You also get to meet some great people along the way, some who are there just to chat of course, but others whose journeys are truly inspirational. That said, for the guys, no these are not girls only classes (ok, except maybe those with “sexy” or “pole” in the title!). I tried everything thing from abs classes, step, down to Zumba – which of course I would, its dance! Over time, as I achieved each target I set for myself, I altered my routines further. I started including more weight training.
At this stage I weight train primarily (I’ll say 80% to 20% cardio). Some who see me may not think that’s the case as I’m not bulking, however that’s not my personal goal. My ultimate goal is to be more toned. Therefore when making my routine, I go for the lower weights, higher reps versus higher weights, lower reps to bulk. While for the most part the gym has become a part of my life (I don’t know what I’d do with my free time if I didn’t go!), I have also met inspirational colleagues / friends who push me further and further without judgment.
I’ll end this segment with a shout out to Infusion Dance studio’s creator, Parul Gupta, who probably will not know this until… now… that she also played a role in my transition. Dance was indeed a nice change from the other cardio routines but more about something she said years ago. That once you’ve hit that point where you feel like you cannot go anymore, when you want to stop and call it a day, that’s when the benefits of your workout really begins. And although she said this about running through the heart pumping routine of that session over and over, I’ve always kept that in mind when wanting to press stop on the treadmill, wanted to put down that weight and so on.
Feel free to share what routines you follow and what you’ve changed over times. I continue to wish you all the best on your respective journeys, don’t give up!