Tag Archive for weight loss

About That Fitness Resolution

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.

Shureido Self Portrait

So far, so good

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.

Good luck.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Revisiting Goals

We’re just about halfway through the year, so I thought I’d revisit some of the goals I’d set for myself for this year.

Goal 1: Cut 20 more pounds by October 1st.

So far not so good, but I’ve still got all summer to run. The knee is feeling better, so I may give it a shot next week after we get through this week’s karate review and the extra practice I’ve been putting in to prepare for it. I actually ran home in the rain today with a loaded backpack and didn’t feel any knee pain, so with luck the track won’t give me any more trouble than that.

Goal 2: Make Nikyu in Shuri-ryu Karate-do by Halloween.

That’s 2nd degree brown belt for those unaware, and I can say so far so good on this one. I had a setback during the previous review because I made some mistakes the first night and missed the second night due to a family incident. This week I was able to finish the process and I should receive the first of three stripes required to hit Nikyu on Thursday. If I bust my ass practicing this summer, I can still make it.

Goal 3: Complete 25 themed photos by December 31st.

Uh oh. Unless I make them all karate-themed, I’m in big trouble. Between the writing in general, the setback with the graphic novel, work, family, and of course karate, I haven’t made time to surf Flickr groups or read the snazzy photography book I bought, much less take the camera out and about. Maybe a karate theme is just that simple a solution, with portraits and pics like my Karate Moleskine (below).

Taken with my old camera, but I still dig it

Taken with my old camera, but I still dig it

I’m glad I revisited these goals now, as there’s still plenty of time for all three if I put in the effort. But that’s the whole point of goals, isn’t it? If I can still get the immediate writing commitments completed, I can also participate in National Novel Writing Month this year as I hoped. It’ll take some effort, but it’s not impossible.

Too bad I don’t have a Staples easy button.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Measures for Success

I found something that might interest the many, many people who made weight-loss resolutions for New Year.

Too many people focus on numbers on the bathroom scale to measure their success. We hear alleged ideal numbers thrown around all the time, but people rarely take into account their height and age. In fact, studies are showing that it’s better to be fat and fit than thin and unfit. I’ve also read recently that thin people in poor shape may have hidden fat; the fat hides inside muscle and around the organs rather than between the muscles and skin where we’re used to seeing it.

This same focus on the scale makes some people drop out of their programs. I’ve seen a few fellow students drop out of my karate school because they don’t feel it was worth the money or they didn’t lose any weight. They’re amazed to learn I lost 30 lbs my first year, but can’t figure out why it’s not working for them. Then I explain I also work out on my own at home (not to mention I show up for class far more regularly), and they’re disappointed.

“You mean this weight loss thing takes work? Aww, man.”

Some people then turn to body mass index, or their doctor and/or insurance agents rub it in their faces. Unfortunately this, too, is a fuzzy number as it makes no distinction between muscle mass and fat. When people described me as skinny, I weighed 185 lbs. I’m a little short, so my BMI worked out to 28.5 at that point, which is labeled overweight. In fact, to get down to a BMI at the upper limit of “normal,” I’d have to get down to 163 lbs, which I haven’t been since the 8th grade. It might have been a little more accurate at that time, but through high school and for a couple of years after graduation, I converted a lot of the pudge to muscle mass.

To get down to 163 lbs now, I’d probably have to cut off a leg.

Which is exactly why I’m glad I found this home body fat test. It takes into account your age, weight and gender, then looks at different body measurements to calculate an estimate of your lean body weight and your body fat percentage. If I was skinny at 185 and I’ve gained/recovered muscle while studying karate, my numbers looked pretty damn close, even allowing for a modest margin of error.

Keep in mind, however, this is an approximation of your lean body mass. In other words that would be your approximate weight at 0% body fat, which is not a realistic goal. The chart supplied with the test says as a white male, 15% body fat would be healthy for me. To get a target, then, I would just take the supplied lean body weight number and divide it by .85. (See that? Algebra comes in handy after all.)

As luck would have it, based on these figures my goal to lose another 20 lbs by October 1st is a realistic goal. Not too shabby. Maybe I’ll add the body fat test to my Weight Tracker worksheet and see how I’m doing from month to month.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

2007: Year in Review

If someone were to ask me how this year went, my first reaction would be to call it a write-off. Then I got to thinking about it, and it actually hasn’t been so bad after all. Let’s look back, shall we?

I started the year by selling the German rights to Deadliest of the Species to publisher Otherworld Verlag. The book was pitched to retailers this month, and it will see publication early next year under the title Das Tödliche Geschlecht. I followed that up over the summer with another book sale which I’m still asked to keep under my hat.

Restore from Backup, my novella collaboration with JF Gonzalez, was released from Bad Moon Books. The hardcovers sold out on preorder, but you can still get copies of the trade paperback.

Moonstone Books published The Phantom Chronicles, a prose anthology of Phantom tales including my short story “The Servants of Set”. Moonstone is also the publisher of my comic book Werewolves: Call of the Wild.

I received word today that In Delirium II is shipping. This anthology includes a reprint of “Crazy for You” by myself and Brian Keene. This story previously appeared in Crime Spree. The book doesn’t appear to be listed on the Horror Mall yet, but I imagine it will be up for order soon.

Finally, I attended two comic cons — one large and one small — and did signings at two comic shops. I sold enough comics to pay for the trip at the small comic con, and I was well satisfied with the results of the large con and the signings. I also had fun, and probably picked up a few new fans to boot.

I’d like to have accomplished more, of course, but I don’t feel I should be complaining.

In personal news, I joined the Academy of Okinawan Karate in March and started studying Shuri-ryu, a style of karate. I climbed the ranks from white belt through yellow and to blue belt, and I’ve learned a lot of cool things. Between classes and home exercise, I’ve managed to lose 30 pounds and I feel better than I have in years. I’d have to say that’s the best accomplishment of the year. My class and workout schedule may have put a dent in my writing productivity, but I feel like my health improvements will keep me writing for years to come.

I joined an active Flickr photo group called 52 Weeks, where users post a picture a week for a year. I did fine for a while, but the last few months I’ve fallen way behind. I would like to have posted an honest week 1 and week 52 pic right now, but it’ll have to be off a little bit. You can, however, see my contributions so far right here.

Finally, I expanded my computing horizons by picking up a MacBook at work. I’m sure I’ll be talking more about it in the future (and I’m writing this post on it now), but this gets me closer to being a triple threat in desktop computing.

There are a few things I wish I’d accomplished or wish I’d done better, but hey, that’s what next year is for. Overall, I’m content to call 2007 a win.

Onward and upward.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Big Loser

The Biggest Loser contest at work is going much better this time around. I’ve cut 3.5% of my body weight since we started, and we’ve got two more weeks to go. A lot of people haven’t been weighing in so I don’t know how my team is doing, but there are a lot of people grumbling about not losing anything so hopefully I’ll at least win my money back on this.

I’ve now lost 32 pounds since I started studying Shuri-ryu with the Academy of Okinawan Karate. Next week I’ll have been at it for nine months, and I will likely earn my blue belt. I’m celebrating both milestones by buying my Xmas present early: a sturdy, 14-ounce cotton gi to replace the ghetto gi the school issues for free. A seamstress co-worker altered the sleeves and pants for me and I can’t wait to try it out tonight. (I rolled the cuffs and practiced in it Tuesday night. The sleeves held, but the pants came loose with kicking and were a nuisance.) If this continues another year, I hope to be able to purchase a gi according to my height and still have it fit my torso properly. The sleeves may still need to be altered for my stubby arms, but hopefully not near as much.

Jeans are almost as difficult to fit. This week, however, I learned I’m just about down another pant size. The legs and seat fit fine in relaxed fit, but the waist is just a hair too snug. I imagine they’ll fit by Xmas at the rate I’m going, and I’ll probably be replacing yet another belt at the same time. I’ve even had to tighten my watch, and my wedding band is easier than ever to take off.

A friend of mine likes to joke that I’m wasting away. I don’t see any danger of that happening anytime soon, but the difference is becoming more and more obvious. Lesson learned: whatever gets you off your ass and keeps you moving is a good thing.

If I can do it, anyone can.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Sudden Realization

The other problem with slow weight loss is you don’t see the differences right off. Maybe you start to notice your clothes fit loosely, or you compare some numbers if you’ve been keeping track of your weight for any length of time, but there’s rarely a WOW! moment.

I had one today today.

The daylight savings change was like a switch for many things. One week it’s cool but not cold, and the sun’s still up into the evening. Then the time changed and the Wife and I are busting out the kids’ winter jackets and talking about sealing up all the windows. The sun’s gone shortly after 5pm.

I haven’t been cold walking to work, but yesterday the winds kicked up and cut right through my zip-up hoodie. I broke down and got out my own winter jacket. Halfway to work today, I zipped it up, and was blown away by how much extra room I had. Last year, if I zipped up the jacket it fit snug across my belly. It wasn’t tight like the year before, but it was right there.

Today I was able to grab a big handful of the front and tighten it up. I may not have been swimming in the jacket, but I had inches to spare.

Now that’s progress. The BMI calculations say I’ve got a ways to go, but even if I was convinced BMI was in any way definitive (I don’t think it accounts for muscle), I wouldn’t let it bring me down.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Fat Fit Like Me

I’m kind of making up this fitness thing as I go, picking out the common threads from a number of sources and taking a common-sense approach that really boils down to “eating right + getting off your ass = weight loss.” Imagine my surprise when I saw Nate Southard say he’s taking some of my advice and cutting fast food and soft drinks from his diet.

But hey, it has helped me. I’ve lost almost 50 pounds since ’05, with over half of that in the last six months since starting karate. Hopefully it will work for Nate, too. (And I’ll draw inspiration back — I haven’t been to a doctor for anything but ailments in over a decade. My ass needs a physical. Pun intended.)

That got me thinking: who else out there wants to join us? Teaming up with someone and blogging are among 31 motivators to exercise, as is tracking your progress. I’ve talked to a few more people about weight loss via email, and I would imagine there are still a few more who just don’t speak up.

In fact, I’ve got a Ning account I’m not doing much with, and I’d be happy to set up a community. I’m assuming we share a number of the same interests if you’re reading this blog, so maybe a community of peers would be of more help than a generic fitness forum populated by folks who might otherwise not have much to talk about.

Speak up if you’re interested.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.