By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training, Tucson, Arizona
January 3, 2016
Typically, I am not one of those “Ra Ra” cheerleader types. When I have been to sports games and such, I am the type of person that will try my best to put down the other team and humiliate them. You got that right, I am the heckler. When at football games, I have no trouble picking on the heaviest guys from the opposing team and yelling at them to put down the fork. My favorite putdown of all time came when my alma mater, the University of Arizona, won an uninspired game against Central Michigan. Their initials on the scoreboard said “CMU,” and I let out a great line despite my team barely winning 19-6. “You can’t spell chump without C-M-U!” My friends got a pretty good kick out of it, merely for the horrible irony in regards to how poorly Arizona played that night. There was another great instance where I got free tickets to an Arizona-Stanford basketball game provided by the old Tucson Citizen, the longest running newspaper in the state at that time. There was a guy on the Stanford side named Hemingway, and you can probably guess I was whipping out some bad literary putdowns. “The bell doesn’t toll for you!” and “No tortillas for you Hemingway,” were some of the lines I was yelling. Of course, the second put down made me look stupid, considering it was John Steinbeck that wrote “Tortilla Flat,” not Ernest Hemingway as was pointed out by my friend. Being a Steinbeck fan and such made me feel pretty stupid, but I will just blame it on the alcohol (yup, I was a good representation for my company that day!). Granted, I will never take it to the level of some people like the famous heckler that got his ass whooped by Vernon “Mad Max” Maxwell or the guy that got tossed out a bar window after giving Charles Barkley too much grief. Anyway, I have been on good behavior the last couple times I have seen games, mainly because I have mellowed out quite a bit due to my diet and my lack of anger these days. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things that get my pissy, but not the same way I used to.
This year will be a little unusual for me, for I have to be more of a cheerleader of sorts for some friends who are trying to work through some weight loss and regain their health. Of course, they aren’t interested in the whole vegan lifestyle just yet, but I have to help give them some pointers that have aided me in my life, for I was about as stubborn as you can get in regards to my fitness. So what am I going to tell them?
5. START WITH A REASONABLE GOAL
When I started at Parsons Training, I really had no goal. I was basically walking into a snake pit of sunshine and endorphins and wondering why I decided to take my parents up on their offer to become healthy. The first goal was to get my parents off my back and have them leave me alone…my second goal was the rather nondescript “get healthier” mantra that had no rhyme or reason to it. Well, let me tell you, getting healthier came rather quickly, shedding 66 pounds n 53 days. I had no real concept of plateauing or anything. I thought that pace would continue, and was running my mouth about being Magic Mike for Halloween (I know, pretty ambitious since I had started in May of that year). Well, I shot way too high and by the time my body adjusted to the weight loss, I suddenly saw the downside of having a goal that was a little crazy…I in turn went a little crazy. It was kind of the first of many breakdowns along this crazy journey of mine, and in lot of ways, it was the wake-up call I needed. I’ll admit, I still had some other problems along the way, like the time in November of 2014 I discovered I had put on a good 30 pounds of extra weight, mainly because I stopped running after my first half marathon and became an eating machine in the process (plus my car had been out of commission for nearly a month and I was out of work, so there was that).
These days, I keep the goals a little more simple, and this year I have established a pretty lofty one….fit into size 32 jeans. Now I don’t know if I will bet able to do this, but it is a pretty good goal to shoot for. I’m not making a t-shirt goal officially, but squeezing into a LARGE shirt might be in the cards sine XL’s are already fitting on my frame quite nicely. I look to one of my friends that established a reasonable goal for himself this past year—to get under 250 pounds—and saw the happiness in him when he actually made the goal! Of course, now he is going to have to deal with me in the near future, for weight training is something I was going to introduce him to this upcoming year. But I think from a mental health standard, you should set much smaller goals in the beginning. Too many people put a huge goal as their finish line, and when they get nowhere near it, they become discouraged quickly. So set something attainable, and don’t stop setting smaller goals until you have the fortitude and the discipline to keep going. At least, that is how I’ve been doing it.
4. MAINTAIN A GOOD SUPPORT SYSTEM
In the beginning, I was really by myself in regard other working out. I didn’t have any friends that were heavily into fitness, and while my parents were doing great, I quickly advanced past them in regards to my fitness. Fortunately for me, the good people at Parsons Training kind of took a liking to me, and over the long run, became a good support system for me. Not all people are that lucky, for often times most will just go to the gym by themselves to unwind or work on their own time. Most of the time, this works out pretty good for most people as they see results come at a pace much quicker. but here are others that need that help and support, people like myself. I will admit, without any events to look forward to or any people keeping track of me, who knows how long ago this journey would have ended? I’m not much of a self starter, for I will admit this shortcoming in my life. This year will most likely be a good one for me as I help out some friends along the way and help them establish a good system to get them going. Hopefully it will be better for my health as well, for I will need to maintain a good edge and keep ahead of them.
3. GIVE UP SPECIFIC FOODS, NOT ALL FOODS!
Two weeks into my workout regimen, Jon Parsons challenged me to give up dairy. It was a dubious problem for me, for everything I ate was slathered with cheese. And then I realized how much more difficult this would be when I realized just about every food in the supermarket aisle has some form of dairy. Now, I wouldn’t recommend you try something like this unless you were in as horrible shape as I was, but this leads to simple idea that can help you along the way. Give something up that you don’t really need, and you will understand how much easier it is to get it out of your life. When I went cheeses, that pretty much meant I went pizza-less. I almost didn’t eat a pizza for an entire year. This plan really helped me despite it’s extremity, getting me away from the pizza joints, Taco Bell and just about every bacon cheeseburger ever made. This drastic change is a little crazier than most, but I was nearly twice the recommended weight I was supposed to be! Now for people who are in a little better shape than me when I first started, this may be a much simpler exercise. An old friend of mine has decided to give up soda, which I know all too well the effects of due to the fact I was consuming nearly 100 gallons of the liquid black death per year during the last decade. Even though he might not change too many of his other eating habits, just doing that will be a sea change in his health and will definitely help his waistline. When starting off, just pick something you eat way too much of and get rid of it! Too many bags of Doritos a week? Cut back or cut out if you are brave enough. Too much beer on the weekend? Reduce! Ultimately, you may not become as crazy as me, going all out plants and such due to my change in eating habits, but I think this is a good way to start. Speaking of which…
2. DON’T GO NUTS WITH YOUR WORKOUT REGIMEN!!!
It took me over a year of fitness training before I ever really decided to start a running regimen. It was’t until I started walking nearly nine miles pop when I figured “maybe I should try this jogging thing.” I maybe got a mile or two every time I did it, but ultimately I started running around the 2.87-mile portion at Reid Park with regularity. Then came the 3.85-mile loop. Then came the days I started running up Sabino Canyon. Right now, an injury kind of derailed me, but I can run the eight or nine mile portion of the Santa Cruz River walk near my house. What I’m saying is, you have to dig out the foundation before you start building the temple. Without it, you will sink and be condemned to failure. I think about all the times I saw people running around Reid Park, dying and sweating up a storm, trying their best to run around the main loop multiple times, only to never see them again. they had pushed themselves to exhaustion and/or injury. You just can’t be that naive about your body. There has been only a couple incidents in y training process where I had to call the day early or say no to certain workouts. These days, an 80-minute workout session is not out of the norm for me, for the only thing I really determine is which parts of my body are up for the challenge. Don’t do anything stupid is the basic advice. Everything takes time, for it is that rare person that might able to change everything about themselves within a year. I think this is one thing that probably hurts a lot of people, and I know it always hurt me in the past when I thought I could just flip a switch. Right now, I am struggling with the bench press because my shoulders are just not up to snuff. But what do I do? Keep building the shoulders, so some day I can do the ridiculous levels of weight I had kind of promised myself I would do. Until then, bask in the glory of my recent 195-pound hang clean.
1. START SIMPLE AND THEN EXPERIMENT
You ever heard of Kevin Trudeau? Well, he once created a book called “The Weight Loss Cure” that outlined four phases you need to lose weight. The first phase was a little extreme but had some good ideas. Eating better, consistent workouts, consistent sleep patterns and eating a whole foods diet. Then came the crazy part in phase two, like injecting yourself with hormones that are secreted in pregnant women’s urine and eating only 500 calories a day—for 45 days!!! Phase three was equally awful, where you eat everything you wanted for 21 days. And then you get the pitch in phase four, where his team of “experts” would provide products for various cleanses and detoxes. Yeesh! I could go on with how crazy his idea was, considering the guy was a quack, a fraud and a liar multiple times over, but this is the sot of thing you will start running into when you get frustrated with the slowness of your weight loss. You see, it is going to happen regardless, and when you reach that point, it will require a lot more discipline in order to stay on the path that you have established so astutely for yourself. Right now, I am kind of getting into that sort of mindset as well, thinking about trying some other shot term diet ideas like “Raw Til 4” or going with a completely raw foods approach. It’s merely a consideration at this point, for I already know the 30 Bananas a Day Diet is not for me (though I do like the Ten-Day Potato Challenge). So before you try that “5 Bites Diet” or eating cotton balls or putting IVs in your nose (The Ketogenic Enteral Nutrition Diet, a real thing!), try sticking to basic principles like increasing your weights or increasing your cardio while adjusting your macros and calorie intake. Trust me, sticking to simple, proven principles will give you the same result. You can always try other workout ideas as well, for sometimes working utilizing different parts of your body can bring the changes you desire. Just be careful is all I can say. And while you are at it, check out this great list from cracked.com, just to show you that simplicity might be the best option. http://www.cracked.com/photoplasty_1876_22-health-diet-hacks-that-will-leave-you-fat-injured/
About Parsons Training
Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company.
About Our Blog
Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.