Thursday, December 13, 2007

Getting Serious At Last About Resistance Training

Four years after losing 180 pounds, it's time to tone up

The year 2004 was a turning point in my life. Starting the year weighing in at a robust 410 pounds, I had a steep hill to climb to get my life back. But the great thing was I had a proven plan in place that merely needed to be implemented and executed. And the rest they say is history!

It's no secret that the Atkins diet worked and worked AMAZINGLY well on me unlike any other diet I had ever been on. The low-carb lifestyle is so easy to follow and much more pleasurable than the same old tired low-fat, low-calorie diets we've always been told is "healthy" that I can't understand why anyone would want to eat any other way. Unless you are a glutton for punishment, it doesn't make sense to NOT be livin' la vida low-carb. But that's just me.

However, I do want to share one major regret that I have about my weight loss experience four years ago. As awesome an accomplishment that it was (and I'll never deny the positive impact it made on my life for the better) and as good as I have felt ever since taking the weight off, I wish I had been taught how to do resistance training and gotten comfortable with it as part of my workout routine.

In my book about my weight loss experience, I wrote a chapter called "Exercise Is Not A Dirty Word" and it's true. As much as people moan and complain about not having time to exercise, lacking any energy to commit to a regular routine, and any number of other useless excuses that are bantered about by the usual suspects, the fact is there is no excuse good enough for NOT taking care of your physical body. After all, God only gives you one, so you need to do what you can with what you've got.

For me when I was losing weight, that meant cardiovascular exercise galore. As much as I HATED the treadmill when I first started and was gasping for air after 15 minutes at 3mph, today I can easily go 30-45 minutes on an elliptical machine at 8-9mph with 12 resistance and get a good workout.

I'll admit that in 2007 I have been a little slack with my regular cardio primarily because my free YMCA gym membership I used to get with my old job expired and I never renewed or joined elsewhere. I still play volleyball on Tuesday nights at my church for a good FREE two-hour workout, but that was pretty much it for exercise during the week for most of this year. I didn't think much of it, though, since I'm only maintaining my weight now and not actually losing anymore. Thoughts that I didn't really need a lot of exercise anymore made their way into my cranium.

Boy was I wrong!

Although my weight has remained pretty steady over the past few months, I've noticed it start to slowly do the creepy crawly thing. Anyone who has lost a significant amount of weight and tried to keep it off for any length of time knows what I'm talking about. You wake up, step on the scale, and you're up a pound. Next morning, same routine, up another pound with no real changes in your diet. Hey, it happens. You don't panic.

But then those pounds sorta hang around and don't really go away. Again, it happens and you just keep doing what you know got you to where you are now. I liken it to being in a weight loss stall which I had one that lasted for TEN STRAIGHT WEEKS during my weight loss in 2004. Instead, this is a weight maintenance stall and it can be a bit more complicated. However, the same principle stands--keep working the plan and eventually you'll break out of it and return to your pre-stall weight. It's happened several times since I started maintenance in 2005.

I know all that in my head, but sometimes you can't help but let yourself get disappointed by how you look without a shirt on. IT'S EMBARRASSING! Those pictures of me without a shirt on at the top of this blog post were taken of me tonight and quite frankly I'm ashamed to look like that. Yes, it's a whole lot better than when I weighed 410 pounds, but I wanna look ripped and toned--not droopy and have the appearance of being "fat" (although I know that's not fat, it sure looks like it to the naked eye!). I want to look as good as I feel!

See for yourself how bad it is up close and personal:

So I'm marking today, December 13, 2007 down as the official beginning date of the next chapter in my health and fitness life. This is the day I began in earnest what I resolved to do on January 1st this year--GET SERIOUS ABOUT RESISTANCE TRAINING!

Quite frankly, the "good intentions" part of me REALLY wanted to do it all year, but I've just dragged my feet. Life and all the intricacies that come with it have gotten in the way because I've allowed it to. We MAKE time for what we think is most important and apparently on a subconscious level I didn't see this as something I needed to do like I did losing weight in 2004. That fire that burned within me during my weight loss didn't even flicker a little spark in regards to weight training.

Several months ago, though, I signed up with a personal trainer for two hours worth of sessions to kickstart me into lifting weights and having assistance with something that is completely foreign to me. I can do cardio 'til the cows come home, but with lifting weights I'm totally clueless about how to even start. That's why I needed help. But I drug my feet some more and only called him about doing those sessions a couple of weeks ago.

A few weeks back, I joined a local gym called Peak Fitness and I REALLY like it a lot. The people who work there are super-friendly and they don't judge you for how you look. It's sorta in between the high-brow nature of a place like Gold's Gym where you have to look like Ahhhnold to be respected and those local gyms that only have a few select pieces of equipment and that's about it. I've been impressed by the availability of virtually any machine I need every single time I've gone there day or night--and they're open 24 hours a day! Sweet! Midnight workout, anyone? :D

But tonight I felt an inkling within me that the time was right for me to make that commitment to do something about my upper body strength. While my legs are arguably the most physically attractive part of my body because of all the cardio I have done (the definition in my thighs and calves is very noticeable and I've taken great pride in that), my arms, chest and abs are pitiful looking. Well, you know that for yourself now that you've seen my pictures.

What did I do to seal the deal on that commitment? I hired a personal trainer. Watching professional trainers like Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels working those courageous contestants on "The Biggest Loser" as hard as they do, I've always wanted to have a trainer to do that for me, too. I literally motivated myself to do the cardio in 2004 that was an integral part of my 180-pound weight loss success, but I've needed somebody to get me going with weight lifting and getting into a regular routine. And that's what I'll be doing from now on over at least the next 12 months.

I'm signed up to work twice a week for 30-minute sessions with a certified personal trainer and may increase that if I feel I need more personal attention. I especially like the trainer they started me out with tonight. He looks absolutely amazing with guns that I'd love to have and I told him I'd like to get to where he is physically by this time next year. Without flinching a bit and with a smile on his face, he assured me he could help get me to that goal if I put forth the effort.

You know me, I'm up for a good challenge. And this is it. That New Year's resolution I wanted to start in January 2007 is about 11 1/2 months late, but I'm doing it now...better late than never! My body still aches from top to bottom after my first session even now hours after my first training session, but as John Cougar Mellencamp used to sing, it "hurts so good!" I'm ready to do this and am as excited about getting stronger in my upper body as I was losing weight in 2004.

I'll be popping in with my progress from time to time and posting pictures when I start to see differences happening. I just want to be stronger and look good without a shirt on. That's been a real dream of mine ever since I kissed 400 pounds goodbye and I believe it can still happen with the right effort. My trainer said he could tell I was pretty healthy and did lots of cardio because my breathing was good during the workout. Now we need to add some muscle to that endurance and get Jimmy Moore looking the way he needs to be.

Could I possibly look like this in the near future?

Of course, I do have all that loose skin that's just been hanging around for the past four years as a badge of honor for how far I've come. But maybe some of it will now tighten up through this process. If there's a way, then I'm confident my trainer will help me get there. Wish me well in this next endeavor that will complement my permanent and healthy low-carb lifestyle change.

And if you've been putting off starting a fitness routine--cardiovascular and/or resistance training--then don't wait until the new year to get started. Start RIGHT NOW and get ready to transform your weight and health forever. YOU CAN DO THIS and I'll be right here working hard to do the same. Hey, does anybody have any Sportscreme, my muscles are KILLING me?! :)

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Blogger David said...

Happy to see you start weight training! There are many benefits to resistance training including increased testosterone and a faster metabolism (muscle is metabolicly active). I personally train 3-4 days a week and have noticed that I lose weight much faster.

The soreness will go away after a while. I take L-glutamine and creatine and find that they help me recover quicker. If you should decide to take any supplements the most important is whey protein (low carb version) immediately after you workout.

Stick with the program you will not be sorry. Good luck

12/14/2007 12:28 AM  
Blogger Sparky's Girl said...

I know you can do it Jimmy! We are cheering you on the whole way!

12/14/2007 12:42 AM  
Blogger Susan said...

Good luck with the new trainer Jimmy! I think you speak for a lot of us when you say you wish you'd started resistance training earlier. I've lost 50 pounds since June and was feeling pretty good about my looks until I took some photos in my undies last week and saw the naked truth. Now I'm working with resistance bands, a Pilates Performer and doing ismetrics. John Peterson has some great books on the benefits of doing isometrics to build muscle on his site:
You;ve come so far! Can't wait to see the results of this stange of your transformation.

12/14/2007 1:28 AM  
Blogger JD said...

Ask Jeff Volek to send you a copy of the book he co-wrote with Adam Campbell - the TNT DIET. Low Carb AND resistance training to boot.

Here's a link to another resistance training guru: Alwyn Cosgrove, you may find of interest.

12/14/2007 2:33 AM  
Blogger The Bunnell Farm said...

Full body workouts and strength lifting has got to be a good thing rather than just the lower half workout out and calorie burn the treadmill does. I'm thinking that throwing a discus and pull ups would work good for you too. I'm sure your on the right track. It's been kind of an 'artificial' weight loss to this point with the treadmill. I think you will regain the health you so desperately desire. I'm trailing along behind with still no exercise but our lifestyles are far to sedentary for that to go on forever. Riding a bicycle up hill and lifting hard on the handlebars in order to get up the hill sounds like full body to me. Pounding on a bag like the fighters do is good full body stuff too I think. Anyway good luck to you, it can do nothing but work.

12/14/2007 3:42 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS JD! I've got the TNT DIET book and am familiar with Alwyn Cosgrove's work, too. :) THANK YOU!

12/14/2007 9:39 AM  
Blogger Ab Normal said...

you are such a brave man....I could not post shirtless photos....I hope that when I reach my ultimate goal weight of 180ish that I can proudly remove my shirt....for now, my legs look OK, and chest and arms are OK....its that annoying spare tire and love handles! This seems to be the last hold out of fat storage for me.
I KNOW that you will succeed! Just look at what you have done so far! cartbabe from the forums, you should be on the front of People magazine!


12/14/2007 10:05 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS Burt! Like my weight loss, I'm putting myself out there for all the world to see to keep myself accountable in this endeavor. I can't wait to see the results and I'm fully committed to making it happen. Although, my muscles STILL hurt this morning. LOL! Hurts so good! :D

12/14/2007 10:10 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Hi Jimmy. Check out slow burn. Once you're up to speed on that, then you can go for this:

12/14/2007 11:28 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Whew! Crossfit is tough - I've thought about that for a year and I'm still not a fitness level where I could do it.

Jimmy - great going on the personal trainer! Resistance training is awesome. If you are looking for more books to read, don't forget Lou Schuler over at Male Pattern Fitness.

He co-authored the "Home Workout Bible" which is an awesome book with great pictures.

Joyce Vedral also wrote a series of books that combine weight training and cadio. They are geared for women but I started there. It's a good way to learn the moves with low weights.

12/14/2007 1:57 PM  
Blogger Bryan Rankin said...


Slow Burn is the place to start. It has a fabulous time to effectiveness ratio. Get Fred Hahn's book. I stopped treadmilling and started following his program (which includes low carb eating), and went from 245 to 195 in about 18 months. And that includes AT LEAST 10 pounds of muscle gain. I won't know for sure how much until my next hydrostatic weighing in a few months, but my body shape has definitely changed.

12/14/2007 4:13 PM  
Blogger Shame-Ridden Old Disgrace said...

Congrats. I think you're supersmart to work with a personal trainer, btw. People who don't automatically love working out need a little help, and a good personal trainer can provide it. My wife, for instance, met with a personal trainer twice a week for 30 minutes each time and within a year got in fabulous shape. She's since moved over to doing yoga and Pilates, but credits the personal trainer with kicking her butt and getting her going. Also, it's amazingly easy to hurt yourself using weights. A good personal trainer will work you out *and* prevent you from hurting yourself.

12/14/2007 4:26 PM  
Blogger blog nerd said...

Go Jimmy Go!

Are you sticking with cardio, too or are you going to just do the volleyball and the resistance?

I'm curious--I'm going to start up my first postpartum workout regimen. Nerd Husband and I bought a Weider system off of Craig's List.

Previously I always did a lot of cardio but Taubes' reporting on exercise research has made me reconsider my usually cardio entree weight resistance side dish mentality. I'm thinking of flipping it.

I'm thinking of doing short duration slow burn resistance (like treadmill incline stuff) style cardio and more weights than before. I don't want to bulk but I've been stalled for about 8 weeks so I need to do something to jump start that burn.

Hope you'll post your routine once you get established.

12/15/2007 8:00 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Still doing cardio too. Stay tuned!

12/15/2007 9:16 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

I suspect (though don't have the science at hand) that there are health benefits to cardio. However, you will definitely not build muscle. You can in principle "burn fat" via cardio, but that basically involves starving yourself and having the willpower to overcome the associated metabolic down-regulation.

I have found the claim in Hahn's slow burn book to be true: engaging in resistance training increases your ability to do cardio type activity as well. I never do any cardio at the gym, but I've gone from barely being able to run a block to being able to trot a mile without breaking much of a sweat.

12/15/2007 3:40 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

I only disagree with you about one point, Dave. You CAN build muscle doing your legs. My thighs and calves were developed because of my intensive cardio training beginning in 2004. It's why I'm so strong in my lower body compared with my upper body.

12/15/2007 3:48 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

I'm thrilled you hired a personal trainer! I tried weight lifting on my own for three months, hated it, made little progress. Within a few sessions with a person trainer (thanks to my wife signing me up), I started to LOVE it, and now look forward to my thrice-weekly sessions. Beats the heck out of a treadmill. And I think it has helped a lot with my flabby skin. Good luck!

12/17/2007 7:42 PM  
Blogger Mr. LowBodyFat said...

Jimmy, I'm so proud of you bro! Hey, don't worry about how you look now; focus on what you want to look like and give yourself a good two years to reach your goals. Just remember to approach resistance training as you would learning a new skill or hobby. Slow and steady wins the race, and, most importantly, allows you to learn and appreciate the process. I'm here for you my friend if you have any questions.

12/29/2007 12:24 AM  

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