Before it is too late....
- 03-21-2013, 06:32 PM
Before it is too late....
Bit of a lengthy post, apologies. Okay, I heard about this site from a co-worker and thought I would check it out. All of the questions I have do not fit in a single topic, but weight loss being the most pressing I thought I would start here.
I am 38, 6' 1", and right now 306lbs. I could write a million excuses why I let it get this bad, but what matters is I did. Hopefully, I will get something more than fat jokes here.
I have never been skinny or at my "ideal" weight. I used to lift regularly up through my early 20's (3-4 times per week). Then I began running in my mid 20's to early 30's (3-4 miles, 3-4 times per week) and maintained my weight in the mid 230's, certainly not light, but was comfortable for me. However, the last 5 years or so, I really slacked off and it shows. I am now at a point in my life where I feel I need to get this under control or major health problems and being miserable in mid and later life may be around the corner. I refuse to become one of those people in Walmart who has to have the scooter!
My goals would be first to shed pounds, in as quick and healthy a way as possible. If I could get back to around 230-235 would be my first goal. From there, if I could hit 215-220 I think would be a really good weight for my build and would actually be where I was at my senior year of high school.
I have recently started back at the gym. Mainly have been doing cardio, just trying to get back into things. I would like to start lifting again. So far I have dropped about 5lbs in 2 weeks, seems a healthy pace. My general health is fine. Blood pressure is fine, cholesterol is fine. No major health concerns/complaints except being too damn fat.
So a few questions.
1. Supplementation - What would be a good supplement to start with that is primarily for weight loss? Trying to find good information on supplements seems impossible. Seems like 95% of the "reviews" on the internet are just ads from the supplement manufacturers made to look like reviews. Also, a lot of the info I read seems to talk about stacking multiple supplements in certain intervals, etc. Honestly, it is overwhelming. Any suggestions on some solid weight loss supps that don't cost a ton and are easy to use dosing-wise?
2. Work outs - Suggestions on good general workouts to get back into it after not lifting for a while? Would seem to me I need to concentrate on large muscle groups and basic exercises (bench, squat, deadlift, etc.). I never understood why the few times I worked with a trainer they had me doing what seemed like very isolated exercises. I really could care less about perfect symmetry. I understand the need for muscle balance, but I am not worried if my biceps are not in perfect proportion to my triceps or whatever. I would basically like to gain muscle mass (since more lean muscle increases metabolism) and get healthier.
3. Diet - I really have not made any major changes to what I eat except eating less of it. I also have been cutting out soda and junk food. Other than that, I am certainly open to suggestions on things to try. I am honest with myself in that I am not a person who is going to measure out to the gram and calorie exactly what I eat, just won't do it, I know me. I can however, stick to a general plan of what types of things and when I eat pretty well.
Thanks in advance for any advice folks throw my way.
- 03-21-2013, 06:53 PM
I hope you get lots of replies to your post. Here is where I am at with this site and I have gotten some great advice from several people. Get your diet in order try paleo. Get your macro numbers where you need them. I would say no supplements for awhile if you are currently loosing 5lbs per week, no need for them. Good luck with the weight loss I to am trying to avoid the" its to late to do anything about it situation" myself.
03-21-2013, 07:32 PM
03-21-2013, 07:48 PM
Priority should be.. Diet first...then Workouts...and last Supplementation. Did you try researching the other sections in this forum on diet and training. While waiting for replies I suggest having a gander if you've not done so.
03-22-2013, 01:47 AM
03-22-2013, 01:50 AM
03-22-2013, 08:33 AM
Welcome to AM, hopefully you seek the advice you are after. First things first, this is further down your OP but its worth bringing and it is just expanding from what Cordeen said; you have supplementation listed as number 1. This should be the last or, in fact, should not even be considered yet. I'll explain, without knowing your body fat i'll assume it is quite high which is a consequence primarily of poor dietary habits followed secondly by poor lifestyle habits. Notice the word habits; these are things that are difficult to break and therefore need to be attacked in a very slow, step by step process. Supplementation might allow you to lose a few pounds but unless you change your habits, the weight will pile back on creating a cycle of weight loss, weight gain and, more importantly, a sense of defeat which in turn can subsequently lead to more issues.
Number 3 on your list needs to be number 1, Your primary focus. then number 2 can stay where it is.
Some poeple have recommeneded a totally new diet and while I do a variation of the Paleo diet myself, unless you are a naturally commited person then changing lifestyle abruptly won't last very long. I strongly recommend using MyFitnessPal.com and track your calories for one week, taking notes of anything and everything you eat or drink. Be honest, the only person you're lying to if you manipulate those records is yourself.
At the beginning of the week (before you use myfitnesspal) weigh yourself and write this number down and in one week re-weigh yourself. Ensure to weigh yourself at the same time everytime and with the same amount of clothing (preferably none). If there is little change in your weight (<1lbs) then you have found your TWEE which is your total weekly calorie expenditure or, the total calories your body requires to maintain your current weight. Divide this number by 7 to get an average of how many calories you need to consume daily to maintain your weight.
It is now your goal to consume ~500kcals less than this number. If your TDEE (which is total daily energy expenditure) is, for example, 3000kcals then your new daily target is 2500kcals. Now, weight loss needs to be a slow, steady goal so the main focus is your diet. Your diet is the most important factor is losing weight and more importantly, preventing lifestyle diseases.
It would help if you posted a sample daily diet (with all the snacks and things included) to give us a rough idea of what it is you eat. Its hard for us to critically evaluate your diet unless we know what it is, and please, do not say you eat 2 cups of veggies if you don't. Be honest, we can only help you if you are honest.
Now I did read that you do not like to count calories, but believe me it is necessary, even just for one week. It really helps you to understand the correlation between food and your current lifestyle.
Serious Nutrition Solutions Representative
X-gels: Arachidonic Acid made affordable
03-22-2013, 09:35 AM
^^^^^ Agree 100%. Diet first. May I suggest a tracking app for your smart phone? You need something convenient to use to track protein/carbs/fat, what we call "macros". You are in for a big surprise as to all the hidden calories that are contained in foods called "low cal".
I use Protein Tracker but most use MyFitnessPal.
Diet first. LiftingWorkouts second. No supps until you have the first two in check.
03-22-2013, 09:56 AM
Agree with everybody that diet is the biggest part here and there are a lot of smart and experienced people on here. What I have learned about diet is that like what others have already said, track you fats,protein, and carbs. Make sure what you eat is wholesum, so anything processed i would stay away from. Things like lean chicken, lean turkey, lean beef, fish for protein, brown rice which is crazy cheap and fills you up, oats, whole/sprouted wheat if your stomach can handle it for carbs, natural peanut butter, nuts, olive oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, and other oils that have healthy fats that I can't think of off the top of my head all have fats that our body needs unlike the fat from fast food this stuff is actually good for you but just like everything else eat it in moderation. I'm still new to this so I might be missing something but I was lean before I ate healthy and when I started I actually lost some weight and became leaner and did not even have to change anything in my workout, and man did I have more energy. Def search this site cause man there's a lot of good info on here. Best of luck to you and starting something good is never a bad thing no matter where you stand.
03-22-2013, 12:48 PM
Thanks to all for the input. I think I caused some confusion. The questions listed in my original post were not meant to represent how I had things prioritized. But, as I have read it should go - diet, exercise, then supps. Makes sense to me.
Right now the only thing close to a supplement I do is in the morning. I have never been a breakfast person, but have always heard breakfast is critical for getting your system going. So, in the morning I have a smoothie with some protein powder and some fresh fruit. By my calculations it is around 300-350 calories. I also take a mens multivitamin and fish oil - these more for general health.
I will certainly spend some time digging around the forums for information. This seems to be a good place with lots of info.
03-22-2013, 06:39 PM
I've lurked here and haven't posted yet, but I have to respond to this. I know I'm wordy so I apologize in advance....
I'm 34 and have been a fatass all my life (with my weight topping out around 250 lbs) until now. Both of my biological grandfathers were dead before I was born, and my bio father died a few years ago in his 50's. With that cycle weighing on my mind, the birth of my first child (15 months ago) provided the spark for me to turn things around for good.
I weighed in at 183.8 lbs this morning--it's still steadily coming down and changing my weight feels almost too easy at this point. I feel compelled to share with you the most important things I've learned along the way. I'll tackle diet, exercise, and supplements in that order, i.e. in order of importance.
1. Diet: COUNT CALORIES. I can't overstate the importance of this; IMO it's the single biggest factor in being able to keep losing weight long after the point where most people plateau and give up. I got down to about 230 lbs. by "eating healthy" and making some general caloric estimates, and then got STUCK--bouncing between 228 and 232--for MONTHS. Then I started counting calories very strictly; the result was a steady 1.5-2 lbs per week weight loss with no more plateau. Modern smartphone apps like Lose It and MyFitnessPal make this trivial; you put in your height/weight/age and estimated activity level, the app estimates your maintenance calories and gives you a reasonable daily calorie budget based on how much weight/week you're trying to lose. You can log food by scanning barcodes, looking up food in the app's database, programming in commonly used recipes, etc.
I'm not going to pretend it's impossible to lose weight without counting calories. Especially in the beginning. But MOST people who aren't counting calories will hit a wall where they stop losing weight even though they feel like they haven't changed anything, and MOST people who hit that wall throw their hands up in frustration, slip back into their old habits, and regain all the weight they lost. And then do it all over again in a year or two with the next fad diet (and that, in a nutshell, is how the diet/fitness industry makes billions of dollars off an increasingly fattening population). If you're counting your calories and still plateau, then you already have the solution in front of you--either you've slipped and started eating too much (or didn't account for your weight loss lowering your BMR) and you can adjust your cals down accordingly, or perhaps the long-term calorie restriction has lowered your metabolism and you can fix it simply by temporarily bumping your calories up for a period of time before bringing it back down again.
Don't give yourself any BS about how it's too inconvenient or unnecessary. Get one of the apps I mentioned and count your damn calories.
A comment on macros: I don't think there's some magic ratio and don't recommend stressing too much over them unless you want to use a ketogenic diet (which I find completely unnecessary and not worth the feeling-like-**** effect I get from it). The main important thing is to get enough protein (1g/lb is the commonly cited advice, but it's specifically the LEAN bodyweight that affects the protein requirement, so it's a bit overkill for someone who is obese; my protein intake has been in the 170-200g range all the way from 250lbs down to my current weight, and that has been enough) and, for general health, get some essential fats (I simplify this by having a tbsp of Udo's Oil (look it up) in some applesauce every day), some monounsaturated fat (extra virgin olive oil is great uncooked, but cook with extra light olive oil as it has a higher smoking point), and don't be afraid of modest amounts of saturated fat from eggs and relatively lean meats. At this point, you don't need to stress over carbs--just getting enough protein and fat, with reduced calories, means your carbs won't be high enough to do crazy **** to your insulin.
I highly, highly recommend considering "Leangains" intermittent fasting. There's a giant ass thread on it here (I can't link to it because this is my first post, but just do a forum search and find the thread titled "The Lean Gains / IF learning and Discussion log" started by MrKleen73) and the first page has links to all the info you need to get started. The only piece of my own advice I'll add in is this: The commonly recommended calorie strategy for "cutting" is eating 10% above maintenance on lifting days and 35% below maintenance on non-lifting days, assuming you're lifting three days per week. This is what I'm doing now, and it works great, but that's because I've lost enough weight for my gut to not be a threat to my health (or an embarrassment) anymore, so losing a modest 0.8 - 1.0 lbs/week while getting some modest strength gains is nice. For an all out attack on obesity, I recommend eating 800-1000 cals below maintenance every day. I lost plenty of weight before I started Leangains, but the calorie restriction was something I could definitely feel. I'd sometimes have passing thoughts like, "damn I could mow down a whole pizza right now". That's no longer an issue. I only get that kind of hunger in the morning before I break my fast, and instead of wishing I could have something I can't, I instead simply look forward to my fast breaking meal (which gives me about 40-45% of my daily cals). I then feel decently satiated for the rest of the day.
My last piece of advice on diet is to plan ahead and be about 75% boring and habitual. It's a great strain if you go into every day having no idea what you're going to eat and then having to find food to fit your protein and calorie needs on the fly. Instead, build up a staple of foods that fit your goals but are pleasant enough to eat every day, but leave yourself some space for variety for when you need it. For example, I eat 3 meals in my 8 hour eating window, and I have pretty much the same "breakfast" and "dinner" every day. I stock up on those foods and put 0 thought into them. Lunch is the meal where I'll vary things depending on my mood (just make sure to hit the calorie and protein targets I have left over for that meal), but I still have fallback options always in stock. I love Indian food, so I tend to keep a good supply of basmati rice, Kitchens of India curry pastes, and chicken and shrimp as the proteins to make the curries with.
2. Exercise: You're right to think you should focus on basic compound movements. I think StrongLifts 5x5 (guide available free at stronglifts.com) is a great program to start with, as is the program outlined in Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength (about $10 for Kindle version). SS, as a bonus, gives by far the best and most thorough guide on proper form for squats, dead lifts, overhead presses and bench presses that I've ever seen. They're very similar--both are based on 5 rep sets with the basic compound barbell lifts, and both recommend starting light and adding 5 lbs. to each lift for each workout.
One caveat that I don't think gets mentioned enough. In reading about these programs, you'll see it almost taken for granted that one will gain a LOT of strength and muscle mass before they start to plateau and have to worry about Intermediate-level concerns like periodization. This assumes that you're a skinny guy eating way above maintenance to pack on that muscle and strength. As you'll be eating below maintenance for quite a while to lose fat, you will hit lifting plateaus much quicker. You can use deloading to keep yourself from overtraining at that point. So basically, let's say you've added 5lbs. to your bench press each workout until, at a certain weight, you only hit 4 reps instead of 5 in your last set or two. If you can get 5 reps in all your sets in the next workout, great, increase the weight again. But when you go 2 or 3 workouts without increasing the weight in a certain lift, DECREASE the weight and then start slowly working back up again. This will allow you to keep going without overtraining, and without getting permanently stuck. Strength gains will be slow at that point, but the important thing is that you are, at worst, MAINTAINING your muscle mass while losing pure fat, while the guys who go the gym to jump on a hamster wheel for an hour are losing muscle.
Speaking of hamster wheels, just say no to LISS (low intensity steady state) cardio. Your body adjusts to it so it loses its thermogenic effect (that's another reason people plateau and give up--"I get on the elliptical for 45 minutes a day and I'm not losing any weight anymore!"), and it inhibits muscle gains. You really don't need to do any cardio at all (the diet is far more important), but if you really want to throw some in, a little bit of HIIT on your non-lifting days is okay. I like skipping rope; 10 30-second intervals jacks up my metabolism nicely, but it doesn't burn my upper legs enough to interfere with the next day's squatting.
BTW, logging your workouts is as important as logging your food. I like the JEFit smartphone app for that, but I'm sure there are other good options.
3. Supplements: Protein powders are not necessary, but are helpful. If you can hit your protein goals with whole food, you don't need protein powder. Personally, I can't really stomach eating the quantity of meat it would take to get 180-200g of protein, so I buy myself a nice big bag of whey and also some slower digesting egg protein (casein is good here too) to have at the end of my eating window. If you do Leangains, and you do your lifting early in the day while fasted, then you'll want some BCAA (branched chain amino acids); how much to take and when are explained in Martin Berkhan's guide. Multivitamins are good, obviously, as are calcium and joint supplements; I like Orange Triad as a way of covering all that in one product. Creatine is legit, but personally I'm saving mine for when I start bulking--I'm not sure how useful it is while cutting.
As for thermogenics, I agree with those who advised you to skip them for now. Feel free to drink coffee and tea, but otherwise you are best off focusing on taking control of your nutrition and workout habits without thermogenics masking potential flaws that you would want to correct.
I hope that wasn't too long to read. If you take away nothing else from this post, at least count your calories.
03-22-2013, 08:36 PM
03-22-2013, 11:35 PM
I didn't want to quote Rhones post because of length but I hope you do take the time, if you haven't already, to read through it a couple of times.
Breakfast is overrated in terms of importance and I myself as I follow Paleo, (PHD specifically) fast until lunch time. This has done wonders for my mood, energy levels and my physique.
But if anything, take the time to work out how much calories you need and how many you obtain from food. Unless you plan, you can never succeed. If you don't plan, you are just shooting in the dark hoping you've eaten enough to avoid excessive catabolism and not so much that you aren't losing anything.
Plan, track, and make new habits.
Serious Nutrition Solutions Representative
X-gels: Arachidonic Acid made affordable
03-22-2013, 11:36 PM
One more thing, keep us updated. That way you are accountable to us and we can throw in some ideas and answer any questions along the way. If your accountable only to yourself, theres potential for you to get lazy with it, but if your accountable to others you cannot hide
Serious Nutrition Solutions Representative
X-gels: Arachidonic Acid made affordable
03-23-2013, 02:39 PM
04-09-2013, 11:18 PM
I did not disappear. Here is where I am at now. I am about a month and a half into this. I started at 313. When I found this site I had dropped to 306 and I now sit at 303. I just started the stronglifts program this Monday. I read the program and it seems very simple and straightforward. Right now I am concentrating on getting my workout habits in place. Dietary wise I have not started calorie counting yet, but am instead just eating less of the same things I always eat minus the junk food. For me this works right now to try and establish some new, better habits.
About the stronglifts program. As weird as it felt, I did start with a very light weight. I did not do the empty bar for my 5X5 sets. I put a small amount of weight because with the bar only I felt like it was too easy to be sloppy. But overall I like the progression and if I stick with it, in 9 months to a years time I could be moving some pretty serious weight if the plateaus don't come too soon.
If I can stick with it I should be below the 300lb mark in the next month and working to establish some more healthy habits.
04-10-2013, 12:35 PM
It's good to hear you're making progress.
It definitely requires some patience, but the starting light is worthwhile. The weights will climb slowly but surely. Use this light weight time to make sure you're building good habits in terms of proper form--especially on squats and deadlifts.About the stronglifts program. As weird as it felt, I did start with a very light weight. I did not do the empty bar for my 5X5 sets. I put a small amount of weight because with the bar only I felt like it was too easy to be sloppy. But overall I like the progression and if I stick with it, in 9 months to a years time I could be moving some pretty serious weight if the plateaus don't come too soon.
05-29-2013, 09:42 PM
Wanted to do a quick check in. Still loosing, down to 294 currently. Sticking right now to just lifting weights, mid way through a 12 week cycle of StrongLifts. Still got junk cut out and watching what I eat. I feel much stronger and I figure some of the slow loss is due to just lifting weights, but I will take it. I can already see a difference in how my clothes fit at 19lbs down (started at high of 313).
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