Starting Out – The Story of a Former Fat Guy

January 21, 2011

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Everyone needs to start somewhere!

Today’s post will condense much of what I’ve learned from many of those featured in Sunday’s post and describe how I have applied the advice to my own situation. I’ll then cover how you can apply it to yours, too.

Important Point – Fat Loss is 80%-90% Diet
This post will focus on exercise, specifically the workouts I have used to lose over 30lbs in six months. However, without the right food intake exercise is practically pointless – especially if you are looking to lose weight. You cannot outrun a bad diet.

Starting Out – June 2010

I decided I needed to change when I hit 200lbs. This may not be a high figure for you if you have a battle with your own weight ahead – but for me, a ‘skinny guy’ who’s ribs were visible well into my late teens – this was a lot of extra body fat. I did not exercise and did not eat the right things. I stayed up late writing code and generally did not take proper care of myself.

I eventually decided it was time to change. I put so much care and attention into the code I wrote on a daily but did not give nearly as much attention to the most important part of the process – myself. Once I began to think of the problem as a just another bug that needed to be fixed a way out became possible.

Fat loss basically boils down to three things:

  1. A reason to lose weight – This is your goal, keep your eyes on the prize!
  2. Determination – Losing weight can be tough. However, it is possible and you will achieve it.
  3. Knowing that anybody can lose weight. Anybody.

I had my reason – I was fed up with not looking after myself.

I was determined – I’d tried before and failed. This time I’d succeed.

I knew anybody could lose weight – There is always somebody out there who has it tougher than you do and they make it work so why not you or me?

Where To Begin?
When you’re starting out, walk. Walk often. It’s the best way to start the day and it will improve your cardiovascular fitness, too. Don’t believe me? Jason Ferruggia is one of the greatest strength & conditioning coaches in the world and he walks for half an hour, four days a week.

When you ready, add bodyweight exercises to your workout. Eventually we will move on to using weight equipment such as barbells, dumbbells and pull up bars but for now you don’t need expensive equipment or programs, you need space to exercise and your own will power. Nothing more.

Firstly, warm ups. Warm ups are vitally important as they prepare your body for the exercises that will follow. Never skip the warm up. You’ll only regret it. I use a combination of:

Make sure you always prepare before exercising or injuries are possible – especially in cold weather.

Depending on your current condition, you’ll be at a different starting point to me. As a general overview, this post is intended for people who do not exercise and have not exercised for some time:

Take Things Easy
The most important point to remember when you’re starting out is to take things easy. If you are overweight or the last time you ran was in gym class at school the last thing you need to be doing to yourself is jumping in at the deep end and taking on more than you are capable of. You’ll only do yourself damage and need time to recover.

It’s important you listen to your body as nobody knows it as well as you do. Only progress when you are happy and progress safely.

As a final note; when exercising, focus on form and execution more than you focus on adding weight or intensity. Keep your breathing slow and controlled and use a 2-0-1 tempo – i.e. when doing push-ups, go down for two seconds, don’t pause and then lift yourself back up in one second.

I recommend scheduling three workouts a week and planning to get active on the other three days (you’ll have one rest day!). Workouts will follow but general activity is just as important. It shouldn’t be anything strenuous – make it fun and make it sustainable. Walk the dog, play sports, ride your bike, do anything that gets your off your computer and taking part in some form of physical activity. There’s a whole world of options out there, you do not have to jog if you don’t want to!

To mix things up, I schedule my workouts over two weeks. I don’t like to workout two days in a row and I don’t like to do the same workout two sessions running, so I alternate. My workouts were (and still are) made up of one or two from each of the following groups:

Group One – Legs

Group Two – Arms

Group Three – Core

There are other exercises I use but these are enough to begin with. Mix and match from these groups, ensuring you do at least one from each. Aim to complete each exercise 10 times (10 push-ups, 10 squats etc). Rest between each set for approx. 90 seconds. Then repeat so you complete the whole workout for a second time. It’s important you do NOT exercise to failure. Your last exercise should be when you have one more rep left in you, not when you have nothing more to give.

These workouts may appear basic and to some extent they are – but that’s not a bad thing. There are no shortcuts. Only your own willingness to stick at it will bring success.

I’m not a big fan of jogging. I find it boring and it takes up too much time that I’d rather spend doing something else. I replace it with interval training. When I’m out running, I’ll switch the speed throughout – starting slow with a slow run, sprinting for a minute, returning to a recovery run and so on. It burns calories, improves your oxygen capacity and also allows your metabolism to kick in for hours afterwards, burning fat long after you finished your work out. This does not happen with regular cardiovascular work.

The important thing to remember with interval speed is to make sure that the switch between speeds is pronounced. If you’re not comfortable sprinting, start with a walk and switch up into a faster walk. If you’re happy to sprint, run slowly and then sprint. The slower period is intended for recovery only. Lose the Cardio mindset! Take the time to recover and put everything into the explosive quicker part of the exercise.

I exercise in this way for approximately 20-25 minutes at a time, using 45 second sprints and 90 seconds recover. Listen to your body and increase the speed when you are ready!

Any of the following activities are suitable for interval training:

  • Running
  • Cycling
  • Stationary Bike
  • Rowing Machine

That’s it for this brief introduction to losing body fat through exercise. I hope it makes sense to you and that it has given you ideas as to how you can make progress of your own. If you have any questions or would like to contact me, please do so by

Sunday’s post will focus on food and drink. Don’t worry – eating healthy does not have to be boring!

Have a great weekend!

This site is intended to provide health & fitness advice for web developers, designers, programmers, software developers and any other regular computer users. You can subscribe to Fitness Hack updates using RSS or email. You can also follow my own mission to lose fat, get strong and run fast on Twitter.

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Photo by One Laptop Per Child.

  • Vijaya Kayam

    Hi Mate,

    just read ‘never skip warm up’ stuff , good but what does ‘ chops’ means ??

    • Anonymous

      Hi Vijaya,

      I’ve found a good example of Chop type warm ups here.

      It’s a ‘compound’ exercise in that it’ll work more than one part of your body at once including your legs, your core and your chest.

  • Losing Stomach Fat

    Nice, also bodyweight exercises are great for interval training.

  • Pingback: A Beginner’s Guide to the Gym – All You Need to Know — Adam Nuttall

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