Category Archives: Intro

Myth-Scuses!

In January 2012, I decided that I was going to take control of my life in terms of health, well-being, and physical fitness. The reasons that I got to the point of being unhealthy, lazy, couch-potato-like, and out-of-shape were because of the excuses that I convinced my mind to believe. Not only did I buy into these excuses, but they weren’t even true – ‘myth-scuses’, if you will.

Here are the 5 myth-scuses that enabled me to live a life where I often felt unenergized and tired:

  1. I Don’t Have Time – I’m Too Busy
  2. Maybe I’m Just Getting Older
  3. I Can’t Afford a Gym Membership
  4. I Can’t Afford to Eat Healthy
  5. I Can’t Stay Motivated

As time goes by, I will elaborate on how I confronted each of these ideas, but for this post, I will just focus on the first idea. I work in IT supporting conferencing technologies, specifically audio and video conferencing. The nature of this work sometimes consists of additional night or weekend work as well as being on call at times. The increasing responsibilities of my job as well as taking on responsibilities at my church teaching children began to consume the majority of my time. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not going down the road of telling you that I came to the conclusion that my job was not important. It is very important – it pays bills, it provides for needs, it generates relationships, etc. In retrospect, I have found that when I am shape and maintaining an intake of healthy foods that I am able to contribute a greater focused energy to my responsibilities than I was previously able to.

In my mind, I believed that in order to be in shape, that I needed hours and hours a week to accomplish this goal. In college, I competed in intramural sports as well as lifted weights at the gym 5-6 times a week. Since this did keep me in shape at that time, I equated that amount of time to what I would need now. I did not consider that perhaps my time then was not used as effectively as it could have been to generate results, nor I did I think for a second that my methods of working out could be wrong or misguided. At any rate, I convinced myself that if I couldn’t spend hours and hours a week working out, well then, I guess I just wasn’t going to work out at all. A few pushups on some rare occasion would be enough, right? (ha!)

Early this year, I discovered the concept of high intensity interval training (HIIT), and more specifically Tabata training. For someone like me who likes to give maximum effort at whatever I decide to do (and this unfortunately included sitting on the couch for long periods of time), high intensity was a perfect fit. I don’t know that I understood it at the time; but I do believe now that if that if high intensity training is the only thing you do, that you will lose a lot of weight but probably not have much else to show for it. Nonetheless, what an eye opener to learn that by packing maximum intensity in intervals into brief workouts that I could burn more calories (and continue burning calories) than I would through traditional cardio methods.

In the first few months, I did a lot of high intensity training mostly with bodyweight exercises such as burpees, lateral jumps, squats, and pushups. And to circle back to the original idea that I didn’t have time in my busy day to work out, well let’s just say that was going out the window. I was completing workouts 3-4 times a week in 15-30 minutes. There were other factors that I will expound on later, and I still had (have, really) so much more to learn; but more than anything, it was a step in the right direction.

What are some of the ‘myth-scuses’ that have held you back??

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My Journey from Unfit to Fit

Carefully taming the 24″ box jump

My name is Andrew, and this blog will describe my year-long journey from being unhealthy, overweight, and out-of-shape to becoming healthy, fit, and strong! My goal is to share what I have learned along the way in order to encourage others in their journeys to a sustainable lifestyle of health and fitness.

Growing up in eastern Pennsylvania, I lived a fairly active lifestyle. At an early age, I was outdoors playing with friends and running nonstop all day; and as I got older, I played a lot of sports – thin without even trying (although not all that healthy, mind you). Then came college – life got busier, but so did my activity. The problem was, even though I was still playing sports and lifting weights, I started eating even larger quantity meals, including junk food. After graduating college, I started working a desk job and got married shortly after. I still tried to work out from time-to-time; but I began to work longer hours and suddenly, I had more things to think about: kids, graduate school, advancing my career, etc.

For the next 8 years, I went through a constant roller coaster ride of sort of caring about my health and well being to not caring at all. My appetite for those larger portion meals wasn’t going away; and as my level of physical activity dwindled, my weight increased… not rapidly or in a way that would cause alarm but slowly and surely, my weight was increasing and so was my waist size. “I’m just getting older,” I thought. “Nobody is able to maintain high school / college weight. It just isn’t realistic… at least for a regular guy. I can’t work out for hours a day!”

To sum it up, one year ago, I was 30 years old, 6′ 1”, and north of 250 pounds – not obese necessarily, but definitely not in shape and certainly not eating healthy. There were many reasons that I felt I could justify my condition: I was getting older, I was busy with my job, I had other leadership responsibilities, and I couldn’t afford to go to a gym. However, I began to have growing concerns, and I even began experiencing pain in my knees when I would stand or sit down or even go down steps. Would I need replacement knee surgery? Would I be able to play with my kids at the park as they (and I) got older? Would I ever care about the way that I ate? If I did, would I be able to afford it?

It was just a short while later that I had a life-altering experience. One of my coworkers, Mark had begun leading lunchtime workouts three times a week using kettlebells, box jumps, body weight exercises, and other types of physical activity. I scoffed at his invitation to join them – I was still in decent shape, or so I thought. They always seemed so enthused after finishing a workout, but I ignored their enthusiasm (well, I tried to anyway). I kept telling myself that I could get into really good shape if I wanted to, and I didn’t need advice or opinions from anyone else on how to do that. I had played sports before, I had pumped iron, I knew what I was doing. When I looked in the mirror, though, I wasn’t happy with the way I looked. My face was fuller than I wanted it to be, and I tried to hide the double chin by growing facial hair. I pretended my visible stomach and “love handles” weren’t that big – this was the way that that men who had families and worked desk jobs turned out, right?

WRONG!

One day, I decided to join their workout. I knew going in that the intensity level would be high, but I was ready. Boy, was I wrong. About 6 minutes into the workout, I was exhausted and breathing heavily almost to the point of hyperventilating, and I was white as a ghost. Fortunately, Mark had the experience to have me stop. What a wake-up call! As I walked back to my desk, I faced a decision: would I do anything about what had just happened, or would I ignore it and pretend that it never happened? As the reality of what I had become (a lazy couch potato) slowly sank in, I decided right then and there that I was going to commit to completely changing my workout habits and more importantly, the way that I ate and lived my life. I committed to doing whatever it would take to get into the shape and health that I knew that I needed to be.

Fast forward 11 months. I have lost more than 50 pounds and about 4-5 inches off my waist. My BMI and body fat percentages have significantly decreased, and the joint pain (especially in the knees) is gone. At a trim, healthy, and strong 200 pounds, I am not quite down to my target weight, but I am more than well on my way. In subsequent blog posts, I will unravel the story of how I achieved my goals and how you can too! I didn’t join a gym, I didn’t do CrossFit, I didn’t start eating vegan, I didn’t take any magic weight loss pills – what I did do was make a lifestyle change that I can sustain for the remainder of my life. Through self-evaluation, planning, monitoring, setting goals, and hard work, I achieved what I set out to accomplish. I am hopeful that by sharing my year-long journey, others will be helped and encouraged in their goals of fitness and health. While the methods I outline will not help you achieve overnight success; you will succeed in the long run if you put in the effort, and you will change your life for the better!