The Official eNewsletter of TODAY! Fitness

vol. 2006 issue 5

       

 

Been There...

Alright already... I am giving in to the significant number of requests that I have received by friends and family to do an article on my own personal lifestyle change.  I promise not to make a habit of it, but I'll understand if you want to just skim though it or pass it by completely.

So here's how it goes...  After having been an athlete most of my life, I ended up falling into a sedentary lifestyle and packing on the pounds (high game of over 225 pounds).  I never really realized just how much I had gained, nor did I pay much attention to it.  When I look at pictures now from years ago, I have mixed emotions.  I am still disappointed that I let myself get so out of shape, but I am proud of the fact that I have been able to get fit again and keep it off (currently hovering around 189 pounds).  Not the typical "biggest loser" type weight loss numbers... but a big change for me and personal accomplishment.

It's easy to get comfortable with your body composition and I, like many people, just kinda accepted it for a long time.  I even ignored the crappy way I felt just getting out of the bed in the morning and the way my knees felt doing any kind of exercise.  I tricked myself into thinking it was cool to be a "big guy" (although it was definately not a good "big").

My wakeup call came when I had a few minor pains in my chest that I decided to get checked out.  The doctor told me that I had high blood pressure (hypertension) as well as high cholesterol (hyperlipidemia).  Having a history of these conditions in my family didn't help any, but I decided that I was REAL interested in being around to see my children grow up and I wanted to do everything that I could to contribute to that goal.  The next day I hit it hard both from the diet and exercise angles.  I dropped 30 pounds in the first 6 months, mostly by making some basic changes and I was able to be taken off of both blood pressure and cholesterol medication within the year.

            Fat Pete   Fit Pete


South Beach diet? Atkins diet? Cabbage soup diet?  NO!  I mentioned before that smart eating alone will make significant contributions to most peoples weight loss goals, due to the current diet being so poorly managed.  A smart nutrition program along with regular aerobic AND resistance exercise will create the most impressive results and really improve your health and well being.

I didn't spend all day long in a gym either.  With a 2 year old daughter at home at the time, you know I didn't have time for long workouts.  I did work out 6 days per week, but only had time for 30-45 minutes per session.  I alternated doing aerobic exercise every other day (30-45minutes) and weight training on the opposite days.  I focused on the "quality" of my sessions and getting my heart rate up during the cardio while adding weight to my sets when I could on the weight training days.  The "overload principle" in exercise performance states that beneficial adaptations occur in response to demands applied to the body at levels beyond a certain threshold.  It is important to kick up your intensity whenever possible while understanding the limits of tolerance and safety.
 
My wife was a big help in supporting me on my commitment, but I made the jump to start working out in the mornings before work, while they were sleeping, so that I did not take as much time away from the family.  AM workouts are really tough in the beginning... but you get used to it after a while. Start slow by promising yourself to at least get up and ride the bike or treadmill for 5 minutes (typical warm-up).  Once you finish that, and your body warms-up, you'll find that you are ready for the workout.

Aside from the exterior results, there were a whole list of things that came along as an added benefit of getting in shape:  I felt better about myself, I had more energy, I was able to get off of blood pressure and cholesterol medication, and I now enjoy substantially less knee pain than before I dropped the weight.

It wasn't easy, but if you make the decision to do it, to make a LIFESTYLE change, it is a goal that everyone can achieve.  Years later, I have kept the weight off and turned my focus and my studies on personal training and fitness education so that I can enjoy helping other people exceed their goals.


 

Elite Bodyweight Exercise of the Month!

Dive Bomber Push-ups

Target
Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps (pectoralis major, deltoids, triceps brachii)

Count:  2 count

Description:  Starting in a modified pushup position with your butt in the air, swoop down and forward so that you pass through a standard pushup position to a "cobra stretch" position (1), reverse the movement back to starting position (2) for a full rep.

Smart Eating

So what is smart eating?  There are a great deal of minor changes that I made in my diet so that I could drop the pounds without starving myself.  Remember - YOU MUST EAT!  When you skip meals and try to starve yourself, your body reacts by storing the food that you do eat.  Here's some of the changes that I made:

  • No more deep fried foods!  Try some steamed veggies on the side, or a baked potato if you have to have that spud fix.  OK, so now I have a few chicken wings once in awhile, but I still haven't eaten a full order of french fries in about 4 years! 
  • Forget about the chips and especially the dips!  Pretzels are much less damaging and rice cakes are even better (the flavored ones aren't bad).
  • Whole wheat bread instead of white.
  • Substitute egg whites or egg beaters rather than eating those yokes. 
  • Mustard instead of mayo.  Never really liked it much, but you get used to it.
  • Portion control!  Going from 4 slices of pizza to 2 works.  Cut down on seconds.  Try this: leave at least 1 bite of food on you plate of your regular meals.  Psychologically it helps you to practice some discipline.
  • Get rid of the empty calories.  That means all that crap that you eat that has no nutritional value.  Candy, ice cream, cake, etc.. should only be used for a special treat... like when you hit a fitness goal.
  • Drink lots of water.  Water is an appetite suppressant, essential for your body, and helps flush your system.
  • Make it light!  Beer, soda, etc...  If you have to have it, diet soda and light beer have much less calories than their counterparts.  Alcohol has a lot of calories itself, so try to limit the amount that you have in one sitting, or the frequency that you drink.  I went from dark or regular beer to light beer and cut back on how often I treated myself.  Again... it's an acquired taste, but you get used to it.
  • Reduced fat, light, or fat free foods are better alternatives also.  Hot dogs, salad dressings, there are many foods that have light alternatives so that you don't have to give them up all together.  All I can say is that you have to try them first.  Some are tolerable and even good... others are simply not worth it in my opinion!
  • Read the labels on the food... then decide on the best choice for that snack or meal.  Pay particular attention to the calories and fat content and whether or not there are "smarter" alternatives. 
It is sometimes better to cut back by eating smart than trying to tackle a difficult "crash-diet" that can set you up for non-compliance, frustration, and eventually failure.  Discipline and personality will play a large part in this decision.  Know what you're are capable of but challenge yourself to succeed!
 

It's Go Time!

So there you have it.  What I did to change myself may not work for everyone, but something is usually better than nothing!  Most people have at least some idea of what is good and what is not too good for their diet... they just need to prioritize what is important.  Is it that brief period of enjoyment while they are consuming some empty calories, or their health and physical appearance. 

Here's another homework assignment for you:  for an entire week, write down everything that you eat and drink, including portion size, and time of day.  At the end of the week, go back and review what you have been doing and look for opportunities for improvement.  You'll find that this task in itself will help you to understand how everything adds up and what you can do to take control of yourself.  An excellent resource for nutrition information, including food breakdown and nutrition alternatives is www.nutritiondata.com ...  check it out.

Make fitness a habit that you plan to continue for the rest of your life.  It is a healthy addiction that can benefit you in many different ways.

For prior issues of this newsletter go to www.todayfitness.net/news.  

Good Luck!

Pete Mazzeo
pmazzeo@todayfitness.net

"Remember when you see a man at the
top of a mountain, he didn't fall there."

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