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August 30, 2007

Getting started

I know I’ve talked about this in the past but I still get a number of people that come up to me or email me asking how to get started. And while I’m not a nutritionist or a trainer something about having lost 50 pounds seems to make people think I’m an authority on weight loss….that and the fact that I run a web site.

Anyway, some of the questions I get look like this, “You do all this stuff to help you lose weight, but I don’t know if I want to do all that.”

This is going to sound really mean but if you don’t want to put the time into it, you aren’t going to get the results you want. I’d love it if I could just take a pill once a day and be thin in a week but it just isn’t going to happen. But you don’t have to do what I do when you first start. Today’s tips are all about how to get started.

1. Why – Most people want to jump right into it and skip this very important step. I know I was guilty of it too. But you really need to figure out why you are doing this. Sit down and write it out….I mean it! WRITE IT OUT. If you are doing this because you want to look better for your spouse, then come clean about it. If you are doing this because you are afraid of heart disease, then admit to your fears. If you are doing this because you are vain, then by all means be a vain bastard. What ever your reason is, you need to be in touch with it. The reason is that on those days when you REALLY want to cheat or skip a workout, you will need to remind yourself why you are doing this in the first place. If you haven’t come to terms with the WHY, then it is all too easy to sit back on the couch and stuff yourself with some more junk food. You will fail and you will quit.

2. How – Nearly as important as the WHY. And I’ve screwed up on the HOW a few times. I create a plan so complicated and difficult to follow that I’ll be lucky to stay on it for a week. My recommendation is to start small. This is especially true if you are new to weight loss or haven’t really had much exercise lately. Just plan on doing more than what you currently do. If that means going to bed a little earlier so you can get up and take a walk around the block in the morning, then that’s what you do. Once your body is used to doing that, then you can tweak your plan. Maybe you increase your walk to 2 times around the block….or maybe you pick it up and run a bit. Start small and increase…make changes. Don’t let your body get too used to what you are doing. Once your body adapts to the walk around the block, you won’t get the same benefit out of it. If you don’t work within the confines of what your body is able to do and how far you can push it, you will fail…and you will quit.

3. Where – This is going to be different for people with different resources. I’ve got a home gym and a YMCA membership, so I have lots to choose from. But when you are starting out you don’t have to have all that. You can start out with a nice pair of sneakers and a stretch of road. Want to mix it up? Get a jump rope. Too hot outside? Go to the mall and walk inside. A gym membership is handy but you can work around not having one. Some people will use PAYING for a membership as a way of committing to working out. I never had much luck with that. I had a membership for years before I actually started using it.

NOTE: The YMCA does have special programs for low income families.

4. Who – This is one that doesn’t really apply to me but it might for others. Some people need a workout partner to help keep them focused or to just keep them honest. There is a lot to be said for working with a partner. I did it for awhile but to be honest I enjoy doing it alone more. I don’t have to adhere to some one else’s schedule and I’m free to change my workout as needed without having to keep in mind what some one else is doing. I don’t really need some one to push me because I know how to push myself. For those just starting out, you need to make the decision if you work better alone or in a small group. This is another point where knowing yourself is key.

5. What – The WHAT and the HOW are sort of alike but not completely. In this case the WHAT is what you plan on doing. There are 3 major parts of any successful weight loss plan. They are Diet, Weight Training, and Cardio. You are going to have the most success if you do all three, but you can get away with just doing two….as long as Diet is one of them. You aren’t going to get anywhere if you do Weight Training and Cardio while trying to eat whatever you like. Remember to start small…but start making changes in what you eat and get in some exercise. As your body starts to respond to it, make some more changes.

6. Now the last tip…and the one NO ONE wants to do. Find some one you love…and trust. Get them to take some ‘before’ pictures of you. It is one of the most embarrassing things that you can do. But it is absolutely crucial to your success. I don’t care if NO ONE ever sees them but you. There is nothing like putting pictures side by side to show where your progress really is and to help keep you engaged in what is the best decision you ever made.

7. Okay, I lied. There is one more tip. Remember this when putting together your plan. The BEST plan is the one that you will actually follow. Make it too easy and you won’t get results…and you will quit. Make it too hard and you won’t be able to follow it….and you will quit.

8. One more tip for an even ‘8’. This is the most important tip to any weight loss plan. If you do not understand this single point, your plan will fail. You MUST burn more calories than you take in. That’s it….everything else is just based on making that one thing happen. You must burn more calories than you take in.

There is a lot of ‘touchy feely’ in this post. The reason is that starting a plan that you will keep to involves some soul searching and getting in touch with who you really are. If you lie to yourself about these things, you will fail….and you will quit.

Progress Report

I’m only up 8 pounds now. I’ll probably finish the week at that point. But it appears that my metabolism is finally kicking into high gear. One of the things that was probably holding me back was lack of sleep. For some reason I just couldn’t fall asleep. This happens to me from time to time....usually once or twice a year. I just ride it out and it goes away in a few days.

I started wearing size 36s again. I had to give them up when I gained back this awful ten pounds that I’m trying to drop. They are still a bit tight but not too bad.

The web site was switched over to the new format. So all the pages should look alike except the blog page and I’m working on that one. The switch over caused in interruption of service but now that it is done I can do lots more with the site without having to tweak all the pages. Plus, I’ve finally got rid of that last of the old Yahoo Site Builder pages. I’m still moving over some of the image files so the Halloween pictures aren’t all there yet but I’m not as concerned about that.

“Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time!”

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