Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Fitness Tips for the Obese... and Anyone Else Who Needs Them!

I am writing this post as someone who has been there.  Whether you are a beginner, slightly overweight, obese, or even morbidly obese, I hope you will find some help here to get you on your way to a healthier lifestyle.

Health isn't about looking like a model.  In fact I know MANY healthy strong people who don't fit in the skinny category at all!  You wouldn't even know it until they kicked your butt in a 5 K!  There are some women in the Army that I think, no way they could pass a PT test.  But my husband tells me that I would be surprised at the can of whoop those ladies open come testing time.

Health is about feeling good about yourself.  It's about being strong!  Inside AND out!  Being "fit" isn't a goal you can make in a day or a week... it's a life long goal.  We can always work on it, always be a little better, always reaching new heights!

Being overweight, or especially obese, or morbidly obese is discouraging.  And often times, it is hard to get motivated to get up and make the changes.  For me, it was the hardest when I didn't feel or look like my hard work wasn't paying off.  I would think, what's the point!? God made me a fat person, I just have to accept that!  I told myself that I was kidding myself.  Things were never going to change.  With that acceptance came a deep depression.  And I gained more weight.  I was literally in a prison of my own making.  It was hard to move around.  Difficult to use the bathroom, especially in small public stales (excuse me for being crude).  It was uncomfortable to sleep and sit in the same place for a long time.  I wouldn't go to theaters because I couldn't fit in the seats.  And my legs and arms were always falling asleep if I wasn't moving them around often.

I was in the morbidly obese category for 5 years.  And obese for many years before that.  I have been there, and even though I am still not skinny or where I would like to be, I keep fit, I keep running, and one day I will get there.  But for now, I am enjoying the journey!

If you are reading this post, then chances are that you have a little spark of motivation, or maybe a fire of desire to get up and get started on your path to fitness liberation.  So I want to share with you what worked for me.  So here are some of my best tips to get on your way!  Remember summer is just around the corner, and you are standing at the precipice of a choice:  by the end of the summer you can be the same or bigger, OR you can be kicking butt with fitness!  In other words, you can be FAT or you can be PHAT!  Your choice.

You May be Fat, But you Aren't Stupid!

Have you ever noticed that all the fat girls on TV are either total B-Otches or extremely stupid.  This stereotype infuriates me!  Everyone feels bad for the anorexic girl (totally not bashing!), but people have very little sympathy for those suffering on the opposite side of eating disorders.  Both disorders are from choices we make, life circumstances that pressure us one way or the other, and they both kill: one quickly the other more slowly.  All are disorders.  And most of the time (and I say this because I really have met stupid people who suffer from either one) we aren't stupid.  There is this "health professional" who has been encouraging people to "shame" people who are obese.  Because, and this is his reasoning, fat people don't know they are fat... because everyone around them is fat too.  Duh.  Do fat people not have TV? Oh, I forgot, we all sit on our couches stuffing cheese burgers in our mouth staring at the ceiling.  Good grief.  We aren't stupid!  We KNOW we are overweight or whatever, and many times we just don't know what to do or how to start!  Some of us even have medical conditions that keep us chunky.  But we all know we are over the standard size.  How can we not?  So don't let anyone treat you that way!  You are an intelligent human being, and super awesome!  (Especially since you are reading my blog ;) )  We don't need a bunch of skinny yoo-hoo's to tell us what to do.  We have brains that work just fine!

See Where you are, then Make Small Goals

When I was at my heaviest, I sought help from a personal trainer.  My first day, he told me that I was so fat that I was going to die and leave my kids motherless -- no joke, the guy was a total douche bag.  Then he gave me this super strict diet, that I already knew wouldn't work for me because I had tried it, and he proceeded to work me out so hard, I threw up, cried, left the gym and didn't go back.  I literally could not move for two weeks!  What people don't seem to understand is that many of us don't get motivated by getting yelled at and called names.  I was totally devastated and bereft of hope for myself.

He pushed me too hard when I wasn't ready yet.

When it came time to get serious and lose the weight, I did it all on my own.  My speed, my pace, my goals. And it worked just fine!  I have had people try to coach me MANY times, and in a nice way I brush them off.  This is my challenge!  This is my journey!  And gosh-dang-it it is going to be MY victory!  My husband knows this (he is a certified personal trainer with a certificate in sports nutrition) and he never tries to boss me.  I go to him with questions all the time about tips and all that.  Like once I asked him how to get my running speed up and he said, "Intervals. Do them." So I did and he was right.  But he doesn't stand next to me and push me into doing things my body isn't ready for -- I would punch him in the nose!

So, get out there and see where YOU are.  How long does it take you to walk a mile? Bike a mile? Swim a lap? Do a mile on the elliptical? WRITE IT DOWN and use that information to make goals.  Like say you walked a mile in 20 minutes.  Alright, tomorrow, make it your goal to walk it in 18!  Just those small victories will keep you going back for more!  I PROMISE! I bawled my eyes out the first time I ran a mile!  I had thought it was impossible!  It's amazing what your body can do!  Trust in it!

Start off with A Workout that is Easy on Your Joints

Being extremely heavy can be devastating on your joints and a huge factor that discourages many heavy people from working out.  The evil trainer made me do a bunch of squats and lunges with heavy weights in my hands.  My knees were already damaged by carting around almost 300 pounds and taking a medication for my thyroid that weakens joints.  I literally could not walk for weeks and my knees were in so much pain that I thought I might have to go to the hospital!  I was turned off from working out for 2 years.  No joke.  I finally got myself pumped up to go for it again when Ben left for Basic Training in June of 2009.  Did I throw on my running shoes and bolt out the door?  Heavens no!!  This is what I did:
  • Elliptical:  This machine is a god-send for heavy people or people with bad knees.  Not only is it easy on the knees, but you can increase the difficulty and burn those calories like crazy!
  • Walk the hills!!  Nothing built up the muscles around in my knees and ankles like walking up and down hills.  This REALLY prepared me to start on my running journey.
  • Swimming: This is a great sport that is easy on the joints, helps with flexibility and building muscle.
Mix up and Max Out your Workouts

If you do the same thing every day, and never push yourself, nothing is going to happen.  Period.  Every workout should be a little different.  Vary your pace, time, activity, etc. to get the most of out your workout. ALWAYS push yourself more than the time before and up your game!


I don't care if you could only walk half a mile, get a little calendar just for your fitness and WRITE IT DOWN!  Write down how far you went and how long it took you.  There are apps that will keep track for you.  I like RunStar, it plays my workout playlist, while tracking my time and distance.  Then I log everything onto MyFitnessPal.  LOVE IT!  Which reminds me, if you want to connect on MyFitnessPal, it's under my eamil nutsinanutshell(at)gmail(dot)com.  I am not a professional, but I have been where you are and I am a pretty good motivator... I think.  Here is a picture of my fitness calendar/training schedule for the 1/2 marathon I am determined to run!

This was really the first time I really started writing down my times and my victories have motivated me to keep going!  I love it!

Pick a Theme Song

A great workout playlist can really motivate you to push it a little harder!  Every year I pick a new theme song for myself.  Every time I start to give up or get tired, I change to this certain song and it powers me up to finish the course!  This year it is: Catch My Breath by Kelly Clarkson.  I thought it was fitting since I am trying to run with asthma! lol.  If you ever need any good suggestions, just ask your Facebook Friends what their favorite workout music is!

Surround Yourself with People who Motivate You!

I often feel like unfriending people who say stuff like: "take it easy" or "you don't want to lose too much weight."  I feel like poking their eyes out... but that's not Christian. I want people to say "WORK IT!" or "Keep it up!"  People can be jealous that you are getting off your butt and running laps around them.  It's not you, remember that, it's them.  Let them sit in their mess, and lift yourself up!  AND be a motivation to others.

Do NOT Compare or Compete with Others

You will never win, I promise.  This competition is personal.  It is all you.  You vs. yourself.  There is always going to be someone faster, stronger, thinner... but who cares!  The only challenger worth beating is your heavy-self.  You will get EXTREME satisfaction out of it, I promise!

My big issue is keeping some people from competing with me!  Which makes me laugh hysterically, because I am really not much competition !  I almost didn't post the picture above because I have one friend in particular that I KNOW is going to examine it and use my times as motivation for their own training.  Oh, well, whatever, I finally said.  Let them do it, I don't care.  It's their problem.  Not mine.

Working Out and Getting is Shape Does NOT have to Cost a Lot of Money!

The big fitness apparel companies score BIG TIME selling expensive sports equipment and other stuff. They will try to convince you that you can't get in shape or lose weight without their super cool equipment, outfits, vitamins or sports drinks.  I am living proof that it is possible!  I lost almost a 100 pounds only going to the gym ONCE a week.  Yep.  It's true.  Ben was gone and I only got a babysitter on Thursday nights so I could go. During the week, I just walked around town or did my Wii Workout.

All you really need is a good pair of shoes.  Honestly, it really is important.  I LOVE Asics, it's my brand.  Only running shoes never to give me blisters.  But everyone has different feet.  Everything you need to educate yourself is the internet, good friends, awesome free apps, etc.  But good shoes is all you need to get started!  Once I had this friend who insisted on wearing crocks to workout.  She had the most WORTHLESS workouts EVER!  It was laughable, but she insisted, and she never really changed... still overweight and out of shape.  Don't be dumb.  Work out in good shoes -- everything else is just a perk!

Get Motivated!!

Different strokes for different folks.  We all have different ways to get motivated.  Some people motivated themselves, like me -- I get grumpy when people try to boss me.  Others really like having a fitness coach -- I have an awesome friend that is one, her name is Jessica and I can totally hook you up!  Here is her page OR her Facebook can be found here! And other people just need great friends in the same boat (like on MyFitnessPal -- remember I am there!) and working together to achieve goals.  I get a huge pump-up when total strangers honk their horns and wave to me while I am running!  Some may think it's embarrassing, but I see it as people seeing me trying, and they are giving me the "YOU GO GIRL!" in the way that they can.  I love it!

If you get anything out of this post, I hope it's that you can do it! I know this because I did!


I posted this question on Facebook today and got some great replies:

I am in the process of writing a post for my blog about fitness tips for beginners and especially the obese and morbidly obese. What is your best advice?

Jessica: Create small goals. Weekly, monthly, yearly. Make sure you have goals that do not involve the scale. Have someone to be accountable to. Make your goals public.

Bobbi:  If they insist on looking at the scale, beginners need to remember that if their weight goes up instead of down at first it's because they are building muscle mass which weighs more. So it doesn't mean they aren't improving. A build up of muscle means a higher calorie burn later.

Jennie:  Don't compare your results to anyone else's! Everyone's bodies are different-keep your own goals in mind and be realistic!

NOTE: All pictures and links in this post are intended for my new readers... and old readers too :)


jbmetz said...

May I suggest the "Slow Fat Triathlete" by Jayne Williams? I'll post before/after pics later.

Agnes said...

Wow!! What a transformation!! I really know what it's like to diet and lose weight. I've lose a lot last 2009 but gain back again a lot of pounds by 2011. Now, I'm officially overweight. ): At the moment I'm currently on a diet along with my partner.

certificate III, IV in fitness said...

Don’t compare or compete with the others. Just keep concentrate on your own. Getting shape is very hard process but it isn’t impossible. You can try.

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what is physical therapy said...

I love swimming and also do water exercise daily with my personal trainer. Of course this workout can make our joint strong and flexible. Nice ideas!!!