Eight years ago I weighed in at a whopping 225 pounds, but I dropped 65 pounds after I became a father (after all, I wanted to be able to keep up with the little demons). My weight has fluctuated a little since then, but overall I've kept it off, and I sure feel better (a lot better) than I did when I was that fat dude at the computer surrounded by pizza boxes.
So, here I go with ten tips for fatbloggers, based on lessons I've learned and mistakes I've made since deciding to become a healthy geek:
- Do strength training. Too many people stick with cardio and never touch the weights. Yes, you do need cardio - after all, it burns calories and exercises your heart. But strength training raises your basal metabolism, enabling your body to burn more calories every minute of every day. It also strengthens your bones, decreases your blood pressure, and makes you look better as well.
- Skip the energy bars. Take a look at the label on your favorite energy bar, then compare it to the label on your favorite candy bar. Look similar? That's because many so-called "energy bars" amount to little more than candy bars with added protein. Of course, a post-workout snack is essential, but you'd do better eating something like a chicken sandwich instead of grabbing a bar.
- Forget perfection. Every gym has them: those perfect-body specimens that people either envy or drool over. But unless you're planning to be on the cover of some fitness magazine, don't emulate these people. They spend way too much time exercising, and often have unhealthy eating disorders. Everyone wants to look good, but if your goal is to feel good as well, forget trying to get a perfect body and focus on getting a better body instead.
- Try yoga. Some guys think yoga isn't a "manly" way to exercise, and I have to confess I used to think that, too. But I tried yoga after a friend recommended it to me, and it kicked my butt. Yoga is a great way to build strength, increase flexibility and improve your balance. And it also helps calm your mind - perfect after a hard day of work.
- Join a group. Have a tough time committing to regular exercise? Try joining a group, like a local running or biking club. I joined a marathon training group, and our regular runs helped keep me on track and made me less prone to unhealthy eating and drinking (ever try to go on a long run after a night on the town? not fun.)
- Exercise with your kids. This one is hard for me, because I work at home and use exercise as a way to get out of the house. But it's important for your kids to see you being healthy, so if possible, let them exercise with you - or use them as exercise props. When my kids were younger, I'd do bicep curls with them and let them sit on my back while I did push-ups. They thought it was great fun, and it was also a great workout for me.
- Don't forget the core. Lifting weights and pounding the treadmill is a good start, but don't forget to exercise your core. Strong core muscles improve your posture, and can help prevent back pain. If you're a runner, regularly doing core exercises will improve your form and make you less prone to injury due to fatigue.
- Work with a trainer. Hiring a personal trainer may seem like a yuppie indulgence, but if you're new to exercise, it's worth investing in several sessions with a trainer just to learn the correct form for various exercises. Improper form often leads to injury, which defeats the purpose of working out in the first place. Plus, a trainer can teach you all sorts of exercises you've never heard of.
- Always warm up. If you're pushed for time, you're probably tempted to jump right into your workout without warming up. Don't do it! Your muscles won't be ready for the hard stuff unless you first spend a few minutes stretching or doing light exercise.
- Take a break. If you've been exercising regularly for a long time and find your motivation lagging, there's nothing wrong with taking a few weeks off. Exercise isn't supposed to be an addiction - it's supposed to be a fun way to look and feel better. If it stops being fun, it won't kill you to give it up for a little while. You may even find that you perform better when you return.
- Bonus tip: give yourself an excuse to indulge (as long as you do it infrequently). I usually eat healthy and take care of myself when I'm at home, but I give it up when I travel. Whenever I visit my co-workers at NewsGator, I eat bad hotel food and participate in four-hour-long "happy hours" while I'm there. When I return home, it's back to being healthy again. In some weird way, I find it easier to eat healthy when I know I can indulge every now and then.