C’mon, you know you made one. Everybody has. “This is the year I get in shape!”
And then you sit on your ass and suck down Pepsi and potato chips while watching shitty reality shows until Thanksgiving when you wonder where the time went and decide to go on one last holiday binge before you really, seriously this time, decide you’re going to shed those extra pounds.
Yeah, don’t feel bad. I’ve been there. But I’m doing much better now. Signing up for karate is the best thing I could have done, and now I find myself exploring other options to improve my fitness, which in turn will improve my karate.
I did cut some pounds this year, and I do feel like I’m in better shape. Not a drastic change, but enough to drop another pant size and tighten my belt a couple notches. Enough that people have been asking me what I’m doing.
Right now, I’m concentrating on weight lifting. I did both lifting and running this summer, and while I’m not a great runner, I do enjoy lifting and, although I allowed an injury to sideline me for a brief period, I’m back in full swing. Swapping muscle for fat is good for you and improves your metabolism, and there’s data out there suggesting upping protein intake and controlling (not limiting or eliminating) fats and carbs helps shed the dead weight.
Here’s the part where I say talk to your doctor. I’m not a guru or medical expert, this is just what works for me. Don’t be an idiot. I’m also not a dietician. I could eat better. I don’t watch my numbers enough to turn into a serious bodybuilder. I happen to feel like I’m built for weight lifting and that’s what I’m gonna do.
So here’s the plan:
First, find inspiration. The mirror is a good start, but I’m also talking about things like magazines. I’ve been reading Men’s Health for a while now, but more recently I broke down and picked up magazines like Muscle & Fitness and Flex. I enjoy the former because it doesn’t make me feel like I need to be built like the Hulk, but both are full of workouts and advice. I’m not looking to be the next Mr Olympia, but I can learn from their workouts.
Second, build a plan. If you’re not a lifter or are just getting started, check out the current issue of Muscle & Fitness. They have a lifting plan that starts on day one with exercises like the plank. Then, over the course of several weeks, it builds up to actual free weight and machine exercises. The routine behind me in that pic was tweaked just a hair from an article in M&F, and the weight numbers have gone up twice since I took the picture. I found a new workout in MuscleMag I intend to try soon.
Third, find a gym or buy some equipment. I happen to prefer free weights, and you will see the magazines have a strong bias toward them. Machines are better than nothing if you don’t have a real gym nearby, but there’s a lot more flexibility to free weights than you would think. Also, just a barbell and a bench is a great start. I happen to use a compact, foldable Olympic bench, a barbell, and a few dumbbells at home and can do my full routine with them.
Four, get to work! Lift metal, move it around, repeat. Read up and watch online videos for proper form. Even if your routine sucks, it’s better than just curling 12oz cans of sugar and thumbing the remote. You’ll learn as you go and as you read. Do it solo at home or go to the gym. Don’t depend on friends if they’re going to bail on you! Go to a gym and start talking to people. Maybe you’ll find a new lifting partner, or at least someone who will spot you and motivate you.
That’s all there is to it. I happen to think it’s fun, and it works for me. Get moving and then worry about your diet and supplements later. I’ve become a whey powder guy, but I’m not too worried about all that other stuff like creatine and BCAA’s right now. I’ll worry about the rest once I tweak the rest of my diet.
Lifting not your thing? That’s cool. Find your thing and get moving. Run, swim, hike, whatever. Just move.