Back in June it became apparent that the end of my student loan repayment was in sight and that I needed something new on which to hyperfocus my time and efforts. The only area of my life that made sense to hyperfocus on was improving my health. Several years ago I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and a few years before that I managed to lose 125 pounds only before gaining 100 of those pounds back. I’m not even close to being at a healthy weight for my age or body type and the diabetes diagnosis is proof. On top of that diagnosis, the last time I worked out on a regular basis was in 2004 and 2005 when I lost those 125 pounds. Before 2004 and 2005, the last time I worked out in earnest was when I was participating in high school sports – primarily between the years of 1996 and 1998. And that was a long, long time ago.
There are dozens of different reasons for why I wasn’t able to get into the gym and maintain my health. And unlike the arrogant, self-important, idiotic blogs out there who go crazy telling people that they are their own worst enemy, I fully realize and accept that nearly every single one of my reasons for delaying the focus on my health was valid. I realize and accept this because I’m a realistic person who understands that not everyone is in a personal, professional, or financial position to drop everything and work out like a maniac every single day. If you read any “health” blogs that tell you that all of your excuses for not working out are bullshit, then I highly recommend that you stop reading that website and find a blog where real people congregate and talk about fitness. For my part, just as I realize that not all excuses are bullshit I also realize that many of the excuses that prevented me from working out in the past are no longer valid.
And since those restrictions are no longer in place, I recently started going to the gym again on a regular basis. I had to make some big changes in my approach to working out since 2004 and 2005. For example, I lost those 125 pounds by going to the gym once each morning for a swim and then again each night to do either cardio or weightlifting before taking another nighttime swim. Those were probably two of the healthiest years that I had as a young adult and even after losing 125 pounds I was still probably 80 pounds away from the government suggested “healthy” weight for my age and height. Unfortunately, the gym with the massive swimming pool is no longer in business and so swimming is not part of my new workout routine. In fact, I can’t even go to the gym after my workday is over because of other employment and volunteer obligations. And the truth is that the long commute and spending most of my day sitting behind a desk is absolutely exhausting, so I’ve switched my primary workout time to the morning… early in the morning. Very early in the morning! I always woke up early, but now I’m getting up at about 5:00am and leaving to go to the gym at about 5:45am which allows me to workout from about 6:00am until about 7:00am. I’ve found that the hour I give myself in the gym in the morning is all that I really need to get myself pumped up and going for the day.
On that topic, I’ve decided to change up my approach to going to the gym. For instance, instead of trying to find a few free moments to go and work out everyday, I’ve committed myself to going to the gym on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday only. Can I go on another day if the feeling hits me? Sure. Why not? Am I crazy if I can’t go on one of those three days each week? Well, I haven’t missed one yet so I don’t know. However, I know that I’ll be in Washington, DC for work next Monday and that I obviously won’t be able to go to the gym that day – so I guess we’ll see! Of course, I’ll probably try to use the gym in the hotel where I’m staying, but that’s another story because some hotel gyms are a total disaster.
The other big change that I’m doing this time around at the gym is I’m moving my focus off of cardio for now. I’m a big guy and one of the reasons why I’m a big guy is because I used to lift a lot of weight when I was in high school. At one point, I was bench pressing 385 pounds and squatting 660 pounds. No normal-sized high school student is able to put up those numbers – especially some 15 years ago when I was doing it before these silly supplements became popular. The only supplement that I needed was the pasta and meatloaf that my Dad used to make for dinner. That’s it! Anyway, I’m a big guy and every time that I’ve attempted to lose weight since those high school days I’ve hyperfocused on doing much more cardio than weight training. I’m not doing that this time for two reasons. First, I always enjoyed lifting weights. Maybe it was because I was always lifting a lot more weight than my peers or maybe it was because I enjoyed the pumped up feeling that you get after a good weight training session. But for whatever reason, I enjoy weightlifting and if I’m going to the gym at 6am, then I’m doing something that I enjoy, period. Second, over the last decade I haven’t been the most successful in losing weight by just sticking to heavy cardio with light lifting except for when I was swimming twice a day. Proper weight training not only builds and works out your muscles (a side effect of which is making it easier to move this big body around each and every day), but it also helps burn calories to aid in weight loss.
If you’re interested in seeing the weightlifting routine that I’m doing, then you can check it out by clicking here. If you scroll down on that page to the Version 2 workout, then you’ll see the routine that I’m using each week. Much different from the approach that I thought I was going to take back in June. What you’ll notice about the workout routine that I’m following is that it is a short workout. I try not to spend any longer than an hour in the gym between lifting the weights that are noted in that Version 2 workout and doing between 10 and 20 minutes of cardio (split with half at the beginning of my workout and half at the end).
Eventually, I’ll move on to an intermediate workout, but not yet. I’m enjoying getting reacquainted with the gym and the different machines that I haven’t used in ages. It’s fun. Once I feel like the gym is a second home again like it used to be, then I’ll begin expanding my “beginner’s workout” into a more intermediate routine (and beyond). And when that time comes I’m sure that I’ll write about it and discuss it here. For now, though, I’m content with the beginner’s routine so don’t look for that entry any time soon.
That’s the update for now. I’ve gone to the gym every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in September. The soreness that comes along with starting to lift weights is all gone and I feel stronger and more able to move around. I’m definitely not close to “mid-season form” (a reference for all of the current and former athletes out there), but I feel good; I feel much better than I did even just a month ago. Will I be able to maintain these Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning workout routines over the long-term? I don’t know for sure, but I know that I’m enjoying them right now. I have no intention of stopping the workouts, so I guess we’ll see how far this thing goes and whether it does anything to move the bar on my health. I have a doctor’s appointment next Friday – so we’ll know soon.