How I’m Overhauling My Fitness

Most guys start down the self improvement wormhole with the body first.  This was true for me and many others ranging from different ages.  The most common story is the guy who was picked on as a kid and lifted weights to get bigger and fit in.  My story is the one of the guy who played multiple sports in high school and never had to put in any real work.  Then gives up sports and activities and gets fat and out of shape.

While in highschool, I topped out at a weight of 185 pounds.  I was pretty healthy and comfortable at that weight.  After going to college and giving up sports and activity, beer and poor eating led to a weight range of 225-245 pounds.  This is not easy to hide on a six foot frame.  I acquired the name Buddha and most of my college friends still call me that today.

My first job led to excess stress and more poor nutrition.  However, that poor nutrition led to weight loss and when I got married, I was around the 210-215 pound range.  The weight loss came from living by myself and not eating.  I’d have a couple bowls of cereal each day.  I was not running, lifting weights or doing any activities.  I spent most of my time in the office working 60 hour weeks.  This is not a recommendation for anyone.

After I got married, we moved to South Carolina and I bought into my current business.  My hours didn’t change a lot, but eating habits did.  My wife is a great cook.  Her specialty is Southern cuisine.  We’re talking about some heavy meals and high fats and calories.  Needless to say I ballooned back up to the 245-255 range.  It’s possibly I was in the 260’s at one point.  I wasn’t weighing myself for a long period of time and I know I was pretty heavy.

The change came a few years after my daughter was born.  I realized in order for me to be able to keep up with her as a child and be around for her as a father in later years, I needed to take better care of myself.  I knew going to a gym or personal trainer did not fit my work schedule.  I bought an Olympic weight bench, picked up a Muscle and Fitness magazine and went to work.

For the first year, I found workouts that included barbell and dumbbell lifts.  I worked mostly the upper body with barbells and dumbbells.  For the lower body, I would deadlift and do leg extensions and leg curls.  It was a start and I immediately felt stronger and healthier.  You could see a significant change in my body and some weight started to drop off.  I was back into the 230-245 range and comfortable.

After a couple of years of following the Muscle and Fitness workouts, I started to realize I wasn’t making much progress in weight or strength gains.  While I was getting more fit, I was ignoring my diet.  My wife was still cooking heavy meals and I was going back for seconds.  When you hear that diet is 90% of the answer, they’re right.  That was the first thing I had to fix to see more progress.

“A house divided cannot stand.”  That was the truth in our household.  I had to get my wife on board with a healthier living plan.  Without her, there was no way I would be able to get healthier and sustain it.  Luckily she bought in and joined me in healthier lifestyle.  Within a couple of weeks of a change in our eating habits, I saw a drop in weight.  We substituted out the majority of processed foods and began to put whole foods and nutrients into our diet.  I used recipes from The Dolce Diet and added a few recipes that followed similar guidelines.  Not only did I see a difference in weight, I noticed a significant difference in my mood and attitude.  My sleep quality improved, I maintained strength and my testosterone level increased.

Now that the diet was addressed, I wanted to add to my strength.  Following the muscle magazines are a good start, but their workouts are for bodybuilders, not dad’s looking to be more physically fit.  I started reading more about building strength.  The three programs that were dominant in strength training were Stronglifts, Starting Strength and Wendler.  All three incorporated barbell work and Olympic lifts.  And that’s pretty much it.  No longer was I wasting time on triceps extensions or biceps curls.  My complete focus turned to Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press, Bent Over Rows and Overhead Press.

Not only was I not wasting time anymore, I had a way to measure strength progress.  Being able to measure progress leads to setting goals other than feel good and lose weight.  The big goal of living a better healthier lifestyle could be attained by setting smaller strength and weight goals.  I was now able to start a plan.

In future blog posts, I’ll update plans and personal goals.  Let me know if this post has helped.  Please leave any comments and suggestions and if this blog is helping, please recommend it to others.