View Full Version : Need help getting started...
Tue, January 11th, 2005, 04:58 AM
I'm new to the forums and new to fitness in general. Growing up, I was a tomboy and played lots of sports, so I was pretty fit. Near the end of high school, I started gaining a bit of weight. After all, there was no more PE class and I would spend less time outdoors, which meant little to no exercise. After I graduated from high school, I got a desk job, which was even worse. Sure, I'd run up and down the stairs in the building and walk during lunchtime, but I got into the habit of eating the junk in the snack machines and gained a bit more weight. It got up to 165 pounds before I said, 'Enough!'
About a year ago, I did a crash low-carb diet and lost 10 pounds in two weeks. I'm an extremely picky eater (I've never eaten much fried/fatty food and I gave up sodas years ago), so all I really did was cut out bad carbs completely and reduce portion sizes. After that, I no longer ate junk food, limited my sugar intake, and ate pretty much healthy fruits/vegetables/lean meats until now. I'm currently 22 years old, 5'4", 143 pounds, with a body fat percentage somewhere in the high 20's/low 30's (I haven't done any caliper measures, so I'm just going by the online caculators).
I've been doing a lot of reading, and decided to start a fitness routine with my mother (49 years old, 5'2", 145 pounds). It seems that the best thing for reducing body fat is to do HIIT cardio along with some weight training. We have a stationary recumbent bike at home that we can use for the HIIT cardio, but no weights. I was thinking about substituting yoga, as I've heard it works your muscles pretty well. We'd have to limit our calories as well, making sure we get enough protein, drink plenty of water, etc. Anyway, I was wondering if any of you had any advice or suggestions for a routine? Should we do HIIT cardio every day before/after yoga with a rest day or two thrown in? Should we do the cardio and yoga on alternate days?
Also, I'm already pretty muscular. My main problem area is my lower abdomen. My mom seems to have problems with loose skin hanging from her arms/stomach/thighs. I know you can't really target where you'll lose fat from, but is there anything else we could be doing? Thanks in advance.
Tue, January 11th, 2005, 01:00 PM
Congrats on making your decision. Sounds like you are on the right track. One thing that I could tell you is that it seems to me that fitness is all about measurements. Since I began my transformation, I have invested alot of time, energy and money into measuring things. For example, spreadsheets to measure my calorie/nutritional intake. Calipers to measure bodyfat. New scale to measure weight down to the 10th of a pound. New watch to measure cadio time and time in between sets when lifting. New heart rate monitor for cardio. Measuring tape to measure bodypart circumference. Food scale to measure portions.
You have to obtain the necessary equipment. You then have to learn to take and record accurate measurements. The last phase is to analyze your measurements, and figure out how to adjust your lifestyle to change them. Your transformation probably has phases similar to the above. I am now tracking all of the measurements above, and I have gone thru a couple iterations of adjustments to my lifestyle, and been able to see their effects. Once this happens, you are ready to grok the information on this (and other) forums, and test it out for yourself. The rest is just finding what works best for you and sticking to it.
Tue, January 11th, 2005, 02:47 PM
Its great you've decided to change your lifestyle.
I'm a male, but in my experience women seem to forgo the weight training and I think that that is a big mistake. I would recommend buying a few weights, usually they're about .75 cents per pound. I do yoga myself, but other than relaxing my mind, body, and spirit, I would say it hasn't done much for me in terms of muscle mass. Its great for balance, coordination, and core strength, but its not going to substitute for the type of workout you can achieve with free wieghts of machines at the gym. There are also lots of excersizes like pushups, crunches, and etc. that require no weights and can really get the job done! Also, just keep in mind that its incredibly doubtful you'll get bulky from lifting..I think women are scared they'll get too muscular, but thats pretty much a myth. Weight training will help your body to continually burn calories and fat. Muscle burns more calories than fat, so the more fat you replace with muscle the better!
I'd also like to recommend trying different types of cardio to figure out what works best for you. Personally I had little success with HIIT. It took too much concentration and it simply wasn't enjoyable for me. I highly recommend purchasing a heart rate moniter (I bought mine from Sears for 35 dollars...I'm a poor college kid by the way!). I use my HR Moniter for every cardio session, and I generally do 30-40 min. between 55-75% of my maximum HR (Take 220 - Age = Max HR, then figure out the percents...we're almost the same age so try to stay between 130-150 beats per minute).
In terms of dietary needs, I suggest reading posts from the past and coming up with an outline of what you think a good days meals might look like...then post what you ate (or plan to eat) and see what the response is from the boards. This is a wonderful resource, so I hope you never feel uncomfortable posting here! We're all here to help each other succeed in our goals, so keep posting and we'll all do what we can!
Tue, January 11th, 2005, 03:04 PM
Hi! I think it's wonderful that your mother has decided to join you in getting in shape. If you are already eating relatively healthy foods, the first step I'd take is to figure out how much you each need to consume each day to lose weight. There's a sticky in the Fat Loss thread that covers how to figure this out here:
Or, if you have Excel and trust my spreadsheet making skills, you can just plug in your stats into my fat loss spreadsheet and let it figure out your numbers for you.
Second, it would be useful for you and your mother to log and enter a typical day's worth of food into www.Fitday.com to see what your current calorie totals and macronutrient ratios are. When I did that last year after the scale refused to budge, I realized that my protein intake was MUCH too low due to my primarily Asian diet. I got my ratios correct, and the results started coming a lot faster.
Most of the people here looking to drop fat seem to go with carb/protein/fat ratios of 40/40/20 or 50/30/20. I've used 40/40/20 pretty successfully in the past, but might switch to the higher carb ratio the next time I get ready to cut because of the hideous amount of cardio I do. ;)
Once you have your target values figured out, if you aren't already doing so, seriously consider switching to 5-6 small meals a day instead of 3 larger meals. It will make a huge difference in your fat loss. Build in a cheat day or one or two cheat meals a week as well to keep yourself from going crazy and to give your body a day at maintenance level so it won't slow down your metabolism to some ridiculously low level. I like to do my two cheat meals on Friday and Saturday as those are the evenings I'm most likely to go out with friends or family.
Now as far as workouts go...I think you'd both get much better and faster results with actual weightlifting vs. yoga. There are some forms of yoga (e.g. Ashtanga) which are much more strenuous than the usual "stretch and hold that pose" forms, but unless you have a very good instructor and adhere to the entire philosophy and lifestyle--including the diet--you probably won't resemble the women on the covers of those yoga instruction videos. Yoga doesn't raise your heart rate enough to count as cardio and doesn't create enough resistance to count as weight training.
A friend of mine who was trying to lose weight took an expensive, hour-long Ashtanga yoga class three times a week for 6 months, telling me it was very tough for someone her size to do and nearly counted as cardio in her case. At the end of 6 months, she was still 200 lbs at 5'4". Granted, she didn't change her diet at all, but if it actually burned a decent amount of calories and created a significant amount of muscle, you'd think she would have lost SOME weight, right? :confused:
Don't get me wrong...I think there is a place for yoga in a fitness routine to preserve flexibility, but I don't believe it should take precedence over weight training. I honestly don't know if it even creates enough resistance to help preserve muscle mass (Pilates sure doesn't! :p )--the main reason women trying to lose weight should weigh train as well as cut calories and do cardio. In your mother's case, this is especially important as it sounds as if she's got a bit more body fat than you do and very likely a slower metabolism due to her age.
You don't need a lot to start off--just a basic bench or a stability ball to use as a bench, and some dumbbells ranging from 5 lbs up to maybe 25 lbs. You can check a used sporting goods store (cheap) or even your local Freecycle.org group (free).
HIIT cardio is pretty rough on your body, so daily sessions might not be the way to go. Try limiting HIIT to three days a week with at least one day between sessions. If you want to do more cardio in addition to your HIIT, I'd stick with moderate steady-state cardio in 30-45 minute blocks...you can do this while watching TV on a recumbent bike. Weight train on non-HIIT cardio days if you decide to go the weight lifting route. Yoga...well, to be honest, unless you really ARE doing the hardcore forms, you could probably do that daily on top of your cardio and weights without any ill-effects.
I personally do tai chi for an hour two times a week and have been known to pop in the occasional yoga or ballet workout in the evenings, but those activities are all in ADDITION to my cardio and weight training, not in place of them.
Tue, January 11th, 2005, 04:48 PM
Wow...thank you everyone for replying. Very insightful information. So, I definitely need to do weights. Is there a webpage somewhere that outlines a basic weight training workout? Somewhere with specific exercises/number of reps to do during each session? Also, is it better to work every muscle group during the same session or to split them up into different days?
At this point, I think any type of activity would be beneficial for me, as I don't do much in the way of exercise at all. I got my ticker checked out last year because I was having some slight chest pains. I had an EKG, which was normal, though my doctor did say my heart rate is kind of high. He said that instead of a steady rhythm, it beats fast for a few seconds, then slows down, then beats fast again. It's not harmful and he said it usually happens in teenagers and that it usually goes away on it's own, but he did recommend cardio to lower my heart rate. My cholesterol was extremely low, as well. Total of 112 mg/dL. 45 HDL/48 LDL. He said that whatever I was doing in my diet was great, but that I really needed to exercise to help bring up the HDL.
Thanks for all the links, Maggie. I'll definitely be utilizing them to help me with the calorie counting. That freecycle.org was pretty neat too. I had no idea there were groups that gave away stuff for free. My brother-in-law has some weights and I think he might have a weightbench he doesn't use. He might let us borrow them if I ask nicely.
Tue, January 11th, 2005, 05:52 PM
You can try the Body for Life weight training workout here:
It is what I used for the first 6 months of my so-called transformation and is probably a little easier for a beginner to do without injury than the other popular routine on these boards, Max-OT, which requires that you lift very heavy weights at your maximum capacity. You can always move onto Max-OT after you are more comfortable with weight training. John has a PDF of the program here: http://www.johnstonefitness.com/misc/MAX-OT.pdf
There's also a HIIT workout routine description on the BFL site that you can reference for your cardio workouts if you like: http://bodyforlife.com/exercise/cardiotraining.asp
On BFL you split your weight training workouts into upper body and lower body. You alternate days for your UB workout and LB workout, so week 1 would be Mon-Upper, Wed-Lower, Fri-Upper, then week 2 would switch to Mon-Lower, Wed-Upper, and Fri-Lower with HIIT cardio on T/Th/Sa. Sunday is your slack off and rest day.
This is not the only way you can split things up, but many people have had very good results from the BFL program, and it's a solid way to get started with getting fit.
Tue, January 11th, 2005, 06:46 PM
Thank you once again. That schedule sounds just fine for me and those websites are great for guidance. I went ahead and got some stats together so I can keep track of my progress:
Height: 5'4" / 64 in
Weight: 141.5 lbs
Neck - 12 in
Shoulder - 41 in
Chest - 37 in
Waist - 33 in
Abdomen - 37 in
Hips - 38 in
Thigh - 23 in
Knee - 15 in
Calf - 13.5 in
Ankle - 8 in
Arm - 12 in
Forearm - 10 in
Wrist - 6 in
Body Fat Percentage: 33.58%, according to MyBodyComp...but that seems a bit high, considering that my only real problem area is my abdomen. Maybe that's just where all the fat goes, lol.
LBM: 94 lbs
FM: 48 lbs
RMR: 1389 cals/day
TCB: 1806 cals/day
Current Calorie Breakdown: 40% Carbs / 30% Protein / 35% Fat
I need to work on the calories. I'm terribly lazy when it comes to keeping track of numbers, so that'll probably be the most difficult thing for me.
Tue, January 11th, 2005, 07:34 PM
I'm a bit of a beginner myself.
Maggie's right about the HIIT, it kicks your butt. It's definitely something you need to work up to. Me being 19 (at the time) and stupid, started off with 15-20 second all-out sprints as many times as I could 4 days a week. I took about a 2 minute break between them. At first I lasted through 4, then 6 then 8. I could have very well injured myself, especially when I swore I felt my quad muscles being torn one day.
Pushing yourself physically is an amazing feeling though. I got this huge adrenaline rush and my body felt so alive! But boy did it wipe me out too!
HIIT increases your fitness level rediculously fast, I think the fastest of any other form of exercise, so is very important in any health program. But, b/c it demands so much from the body --- should really only be done 2-4 days a week in my opinion.The rest of the week can be weights (not on HIIT days) and moderate cardio and flexibility training like yoga.
Like LemonSong, moderate cardio drops the inches much faster than HIIT for me, despite all the studies I've read that show HIIT better for fat loss.
You got your diet figured out :) Your macronutrient breakdown looks good. Stick with it for a while and see how you feel. You may need to fine tune everything in order to find the best combo for your body and get the best results. One thing I want to suggest is to try and eat the bulk of your carbs before a weight lifting or HIIT workout to fuel the session---that always helps me alot. Boy I wish the calories were my only problem---staying away from the junk food in general is what gets me.
Good luck! :gl:
Wed, January 12th, 2005, 03:49 AM
Thanks for all the advice. The only real injuries I've ever had were very minor. I wrecked my bike when I was 10 years old because one of the wheels hit a big rock. I went into a skid on the road and ended up ripping a gash in my elbow that needed stitches. I dislocated my pinky-toe once when I hit it on the baseboard running to get the phone. I think I've pulled a muscle once in my life...and that was because I was stupid and lifted boxes that were way too heavy, using my lower back muscles instead of my legs. I've never had trouble with exercising, it's just that I'm a lazy bastress and lack motivation. But I'm trying to smack the lazy part of myself into submission.
In truth, the HIIT cardio would probably be easier for me, and more convenient, time-wise as well. As long as it's not running, I think I'll do fine. When I was in high school and had to run the mile, I remember it used to make me nauseous afterwards. I've never gotten that feeling doing anything else. I'm not as concerned with losing inches as I am with over-all fitness at the moment. I don't look or feel fat and my clothes fit well. As I said before, my ony real trouble is with my abdomen. I mean, what fat I have isn't flabby and dangling. I'm able to do what I want physically without trouble. To me, the convenience of a shorter workout period overrides the possible benefit of losing inches faster.
Thu, January 13th, 2005, 02:28 AM
I have another question. Do I need anything other than dumbells for the BFL weight training? Should I invest in something like PowerBlocks or should I get some barbells where you can switch the weights and get a longer bar for bench presses and stuff like that? I'm absolutely clueless when it comes to what kind of equipment I need for weights.
Thu, January 13th, 2005, 05:00 AM
BFL can be done with just dumbbells but I think you would find more variety if you could atleast get a bar with assorted plates to change. Something like this: http://www.walmart.com/catalog/search-ng.gsp?search_constraint=4125&search_query=weight+set&ics=20&ico=0 and then add plates for it which are pretty cheap.
Check out something like walmart for a great weight set. You can always add on something like this later on when you get the hang of lifting and want more variety, and chose not to join a gym. http://us.home.lifefitness.com/content.cfm/rack I went with the ProSPot system , but the mentioned on is great! I workout at at home during the week and on the weekend with my training partner. I upgraded my home gym.. Oh those powerblocks are wonderful, I have them.. pricey too.
Thu, January 13th, 2005, 12:51 PM
I've never liked the atmosphere in gyms, so my only option is to work out at home. I'm not sure about getting one of those big home gyms until I get started, though the nice thing about them is that they already come with everything you need. I probably need something with a decent amount of weight already. When I was in 9th grade, our PE class took a crash course in weight training for a couple of weeks, and I could pretty easily bench press 90 pounds back then. I remember the other girls looking at me like I was a freak of nature because I was able to lift as much as the majority of the guys were.
Yeah, the PowerBlocks are expensive, but I'm thinking that they make up for it with comfort, ease of use, durability, and space conservation. Plus, if I'm going to be making this lifestyle change, it's better to spend the money on better equipment now, rather than buying both cheap and expensive equipment in the long run.