I’m no spring chicken, but I have learned a few things about the human body since becoming more invested in my overall health.
Everything you are about to read is based on my experience and things I have learned in my health journey. I am not a doctor, licensed dietician, or work in the medical field. This post should not be referenced as a recipe for anyone else’s success, nor should it be used to diagnose, treat, or assist in anyway for anyone’s medical conditions or physical health. I think this is what I need to say so I don’t get sued. Just to make this clear, my opinions or experiences outlined therein this post are in no way to guarantee similar results or help medical ailments.
When I was in college I was doing good. I probably didn’t have the best diet, but I was riding my bike, a lot. In my college town you really didn’t need a car to get around because everything you needed was pretty close together. Also riding a bike around town was a great way to get exercise in. Some days I was riding anywhere from twenty to forty miles. Not all of it was necessity, I really enjoyed riding my bike.
Then graduating and moving states, I got rid of everything I owned (begrudgingly my bike included), attempting to maintain biking on a loaner from a friend, it really wore me down. Not so much the biking, but in the 100+ degree heat of Las Vegas. Buying a car started the downward spiral of laziness and allowing my bike to gather dust. Eventually selling my new bike after a year of use.
Marriage and fatherhood also came later with additional elements of back burner-ing my physical health and diet. To be honest none of this is to make excuses, but showing how easy it is to forget or put your health aside. I knew I need to make a change, and I eventually did, and I was making great progress, until we decided to pack up the house, kids, and dog, and move across the country. Again, not making excuses.
Now that we are settled, it’s primetime to regain control of my body, and let the dad bod slip away. Think Lester Burnham in “American Beauty.” Putting Kevin Spacey’s personal life out of mind, the line “I want to look good naked,” is my inspiration and really hits home when I think about my fitness goals. Not that anyone else is going to see me naked except my wife and me; physical fitness and having good self confidence comes with mental health and feeling good in my own skin. So yes, looking good naked is a plus.
Thinking about what I had thought in the past of what good physical fitness looked like, I think about my old roommate in college. He was going to the gym five days a week, counting calories, making sure all meals had high protein content, limiting sugars and taking in as little carbohydrates as possible. He was “bulking” up, and had definition. But here I was eating Taco Bell four days a week, with less than 5% body fat and never hitting the gym. I was in great shape, but wasn’t doing the things I should have been doing to ensure longevity of fitness. Especially when it came to diet.
Now, being a Midwest dad, first winter survived, and packed on the winter weight. Still not counting calories, but my wife and I have made conscious choices about the foods we take in. We aren’t on a strict diet, but we are making sure we have more fresh fruits and veggies for us and for the kids. I have started with a subscription based service for other supplement needs (protein powder, pre-workout, collagen, and creatine). I have used several products in the past to support my workouts and overall health. From what I have learned most protein powders are good, if you want to add one into your regime, find one low in carbs. I’m not about to spit out any sort of data or which is better or worse only because I am still learning.
The main four things I have learned in my journey:
- You don’t have to count calories to lose weight, but you do need to be in a deficit to allow your body to burn off stored calories. This doesn’t mean you need to starve yourself, but find low calorie foods that will help keep you fuller, longer. Fresh fruits and veggies are always a plus!
- When working out and wanting to “burn fat” you can isolate what muscle groups you want to work out, but this doesn’t mean you are going to only burn fat/calories in that group. You can’t tell your body, burn this here. Your body first starts burning fat off of your internal organs. So when you work out for a few days and don’t see a difference, don’t get discouraged. Know that your body is working from the inside out.
- Our bodies are made up of 60% water. I assume we should all know this, but one thing I learned is if your body doesn’t have enough water, your internal organs aren’t working efficiently enough to do their jobs. In turn, increased water intake will allow for your body to work more efficiently and as you workout or exert yourself physically, you will be burning calories.
- You get out what you put in. Think of your body like an engine. If you put garbage in an engine do you expect it to churn gold? Unless we’re talking about Doc Emmett Brown’s DeLorean, then no. It is the same way with your body. Put in clean foods, have a physical exertion game plan in mind, churn some body gold. It is simple to put into words, but the motivation is the hard part.
Find something that is fun for you! I have added the Oculus into my workouts. There are plenty of games that help you move and have fun, but as you move (this is additional movements added to your day you hadn’t had in mind previously), you are using energy and moving, which will help to eliminate stored fats/calories.
Humans are inherently drawn to gamification or reward-based systems. Think about “hacking” your body the same way. Find something that is fun and rewarding at the same time! Some people enjoy working out and to each their own. I can’t say I am in that classification, but I enjoy seeing the results from my workouts and feeling good about myself.
For me, having physical exertion, sweating, and feeling good about my body not only helps my own personal opinion of how I look, but encourages a strong mental health as well. As mental health has taken a significant front seat in most peoples minds, it shows having a positive self image stimulates mind and body.
If you are looking to start a regular workout, start with your diet. Great physical shape starts in the kitchen. That combined with an obtainable movement goal, and something you can keep track of, you will have a recipe for success!