2012 Resolution #1: Get Fit the Right Way

For the rest of this week, I’m going to discuss the goals I’m setting for 2012 and the plans I have for achieving them.

A few months ago, when I was feeling particularly frustrated about the failings of my fitness goals, I scheduled an appointment with a personal trainer.

I really do not like the idea of a “coach” to motivate my workouts or anything like that. I’ve had such coaches in the past, and I usually find myself getting angry at the coach in the middle of a workout and quitting. I do far better on my own, as I can always push myself to go a little bit farther or do one more rep. With a coach demanding it, I get irritated because I feel like they have no idea how I’m feeling and they’re just making things up, so I quit on them. I’m motivated internally, not externally, in other words.

My challenge really is coming up with a plan that works for me. Once I have that, I feel confident I can follow it.

When I met with this personal trainer, I was pretty clear that I wanted to set up a plan for myself to follow, which he understood. He then asked me point blank what my goal with all of this was.

I thought about it and I realized that the biggest thing I wanted was to be a good parent and eventually be a good grandparent. I wanted to be able to be fit enough to engage in lots of activities with both my children and with my eventual grandchildren, and I wanted to live as long as possible.

From there, he offered up a lot of recommendations.

First, he said my primary goal should be losing some of my excess weight.

As for my diet, he said that my current diet (vegetarian with occasional fish) was pretty solid but that I should work on portion control. He mostly suggested that I never take seconds during meals and a few other similar tactics.

Where he got down to business was with the exercise. He suggested that simply doing cardio – which was my main method of exercise – wouldn’t lead to long term weight loss and my avoidance of other forms of exercise was responsible for my back injury due to weak back muscles. Larger muscles lead to a higher metabolism and would then lead to weight loss if I didn’t give into eating large portions.

He gave me several books to read and offered up a simple suggestion. He said that I should spend fifteen minutes to half an hour each day exercising, but that each day of the week should focus on a different type of exercise. I should spend only a couple days a week doing cardiovascular exercise and the rest of the days should focus on different muscle groups. If I get injured, then I just avoid using those muscle groups.

The best part is that virtually all of the exercises are ones that I can do at home, with only a few weights required.

Since I have a plan, the key step is to codify a goal.

I want to lose 52 pounds in 2012. That’s a pound a week, or a calorie deficit of 500 per day. My trainer says that’s a very reasonable goal if I stick to a schedule of fifteen minutes of fairly intense exercise a day and portion control with my diet. If I get injured, I just avoid that muscle group for a while.

Will it work? Stay tuned to find out!

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54 thoughts on “2012 Resolution #1: Get Fit the Right Way

  1. Misha says:

    It’s really, really unfair of you to already be placing expectations of grandchildren on a 6-, 4-, and 1-year-old. I hope you won’t or make them feel like failures or disappointments if they grow up to be asexual or infertile or unpartnered or simply uninterested in having children.

    There are five adult children in my family. None of us have children, meaning that our mother is now 70 and still does not have grandchildren. And there’s no pressure or shame placed upon any of us for that. It’s really wonderful.

  2. TLS says:

    Good luck with your exercise and weight loss goal, Trent.

    I have found that working with a personal trainer at the gym can be extremely motivating. It is very helpful to learn how to do various exercises correctly so you don’t hurt yourself later when you do them on your own. And I like having someone tell me what to do for an hour, but that’s me.

  3. imogene says:

    I think your goals of getting fit so you can enjoy life with your children and grandchildren is commendable. Children and grandchildren are such a blessing! Being healthy and active so you can enjoy your time with them and share your wisdom with them is terrific! All my grandparents were gone by the time I was born, so I never had the privilege of hearing all the great family stories that most families pass down from one generation to the next. Best of luck with your goal, I’ll be sending postive thoughts your way.

  4. Steven says:

    If you’re only going to work out 15 to 20 minutes a day, you better be working as hard as you possibly can during that time. Also, strength training is crucial to your success, and I’m not entirely convinced you can do that at home with only a few weights.

    Maybe I’ll be eating my words in 365 days, but since you’ve been struggling with fitness for a very long time now, I’m not sure it’s really the priority you make it seem. You have time to read a hundred books, but didn’t give the same priority to exercise (and instead decided to conveniently use injuries as an excuse.) Like I mentioned in my other comment that’s stuck in moderation, if you’re serious about getting fit, you work through the pain, or around the injury. Going from zero to hero is going to be a challenge, there will be pain and soreness, and you have to suck it up. I hope you’re as “internally motivated” as you claim, because the last year has shown otherwise.

    Regardless, good luck to getting in shape. I wish you the best.

  5. lurker carl says:

    Don’t like others telling you what to do, so you quit. I see a pattern.

    Best of luck with the new fitness routine and weight loss. Even better luck maintaining the new weight, it is a whole different challenge!

  6. Kerry D. says:

    The other advantage of strength straining, including core strength, is that is will help prevent injuries and pain. (Spoken as a dance and pilates instructor.)

    And yes, Steven has a real point–if you have time to read over 100 books, it’s not a question of time so much as a question of commitment and strategy.

    I’d recommend going back to the trainer every few months to check in. As you progress, he is likely to modify your workout to fit your current needs.

  7. friend says:

    “I wanted to be able to be fit enough to engage in lots of activities with both my children and with my eventual grandchildren, and I wanted to live as long as possible.”

    Trent, maybe this is an old post, but it’s funny you mention “both” your children when you have three of ‘em now.

  8. valleycat1 says:

    Your resolution is to get fit the right way. But your goal is to lose a pound a week for an entire year. The two aren’t incompatible, but one doesn’t necessarily translate into the other. I’d see these as two separate goals. Getting fit through exercise could actually negate the dieting if you gain more muscle than you lose in water weight or fat.

    I hope there’s a contingency plan for the week(s) that you don’t lose the full pound, so you don’t drop the whole effort if you don’t meet a week’s goal. To revise your eating habits to get 500 calories below maintenance level daily is going to be quite the challenge.

  9. valleycat1 says:

    #8 friend – I think Trent meant to say he wants to be fit for his children and his grandchildren (both his children and his grandchildren), not both his kids and with his grandchildren. Poorly constructed sentence, not a counting error.

  10. PawPrint says:

    Wishing you the best as you pursue your goals. As someone who lost 100 lbs. six years ago, I know how hard it is to lose and how much harder it is to maintain. As someone else mentioned, if you don’t meet your 1 lb. per week goal, don’t let it sidetrack you. When you weigh, do not do so the day after a strength training session because often your muscles retain water so your weight could be up temporarily.

    I see a trainer every two weeks and strength train three days a week using bands, a homemade TRX, a stability ball, some hand weights and my own body weight. It’s truly amazing what you can do at home with little equipment.

  11. krantcents says:

    I think your approach is excellent! You are using the personal trainer to help you achieve your goals. To stay motivated, find a compelling reason to stick with it.

  12. David says:

    I highly suggest researching High Intensity Interval Training. Cardio done this way boosts metabolism, burning more calories with less overall time invested. Of course, it’s not perfect for many beginners and it’s really intense, but it’s efficient and helps reach that caloric deficit without being on a treadmill (or outside) for as long. Again, just google “HIIT” and you’ll get some interesting ideas.

  13. Steven says:

    @David: HIIT is the only cardio I’ll do. The rest is a waste of time.

  14. SwingCheese says:

    @Steven, David: I’m a runner, and while I don’t want to change that, I’m interested in learning more about HIIT. Am I correct in assuming that doing HIIT will help me increase my speed? Can you recommend a good starting place?

    And Trent, good luck to you! I lost 40 lbs. over the 9 mos., and your goal is entirely reasonable. As others have said, just don’t let a week without weight loss discourage you. I know that each time I’d step up my distance training, I’d have a week with little to no loss (and occasionally, even gain) which was inevitably followed by a week with greater than usual weight loss.

  15. Kate says:

    May the force be with you, Trent. Losing that much weight is definitely doable–I did it last year by cutting out white flour and sugar and by limiting portions. Also, I ate a very boring diet–there has been research lately that indicated that a limited amount of diet choices actually led to more weight lost because there were less choices to make about what to eat.

  16. Gretchen says:

    You really needed a trainer (who probably isn’t a nutritionist) to tell you not to take second helpings?
    I think you think you want this, but you really don’t.

    But anyone can do anything for 15 minutes, although that is honestly the shortest time for anything I’ve ever seen.

  17. Amyk says:

    Portion control is not an issue when you eat nutritious food — dark leafy green vegetables and other veggies ( except for potatoes). The recipes you post are often very high carb, which is exceedingly unhealthy. Also, exercise will make you healthier but will have little effect on weight loss.

  18. Sandy says:

    Yep – losing that much weight is definitely do-able, in fact you could do it in 6 months if you really set your mind to it. This year I lost 14 kilos with a combination of going to Weight Watchers and my local gym 4 days a week. Personally, I don’t think that half an hour a day is quite enough – half an hour of hard out cardio PLUS another of weight training would definitely do it :)
    Another thing I did was start eating meat again after being a vegetarian for four years. It broke my heart to do so – but after becoming anaemic, I thought it was dumb not to return to eating meat. I immediately gained my old energy back ( I used to be a runner. 6 months after becoming vegetarian, I had to stop running – I completely lost my mojo. ), plus I lost the weight relatively easily. Give it some thought, as vegetarian protein tends to be also high in carbs.

  19. Steven says:

    @Swing Cheese: My long distance running experience is limited to a half marathon this past summer (I hope to complete a marathon in the near future.) I do HIIT because I want to cut my body fat percentage in half (I’m about 12 now, and want to be down to around 6.) HIIT boosts your metabolism, and the burn lasts after you’re done working out (which is unlike steady-state cardio where the calorie burn ends pretty much the moment you step off the treadmill or eliptical.) What I’ve noticed in doing HIIT is that my endurance has increased, and I’m able to run harder, longer. My goal is to be able to run a mile in under six minutes. It might not seem like a lot to experienced runners, but I actually just started running this past year somewhat seriously. I’ve dealt with a few injuries this past year, but am learning a lot about my body mechanics and finding ways to overcome my weaknesses (something that’d do Trent a world of good it seems.)

    Anyway, I’m not sure I’ve answered your question, but I’m not a professional runner, and my knowledge is limited to my own experiences. I try to read and learn, but there’s a lot of info to absorb. If you want me to elaborate further, I will.

  20. Steven says:

    As to where to start, I currently run a 1:1, at 4.0 and 10.5 for 20 minutes about 3 days a week. It’s all the cardio I do because I am also trying to build muscle mass. Cardio and building bulk are totally counter productive to one another, so it’s important that I don’t do too much cardio.

    And, on another note, if you’re doing a ton of cardio and not doing any weight training, you’ll end up “skinnny fat.” That was my problem, which is why I’m trying to build mass. I’ve never been overweight, but I also never really had any type of muscle definition. I want to look good naked. Haha!

  21. Lisa says:

    Hi Trent,
    I lost 20 lbs last year by making sure I was achieving a calorie deficit. If you don’t pay enough attention to how many calories you eat and how many you burn then you are going to have trouble losing weight. You can look up the approximate number of calories burned per day for your height, weight and activity level. You can also look that up for different exercises at differing intensity levels. You can look up calorie information for most food items, too. I set up a spreadsheet in Excel and entered the number of calories I ate that day, the number burned in exercise, and the number I would burn just being alive for that day to figure out my deficit. You just have to make sure you have a weekly deficit of 3500cal to lose a lb a week.

    I found bodybuilding.com to be a huge help in figuring out some strength training exercises I could do at home with my 40lb weight set (which I bought at Walmart years ago in a New Year’s sale for $20). You can look up exercises to target specific muscle groups.

    For me, reading a lot about nutrition and exercise (especially about people who lost a lot of weight) is good motivation to keep at it.

  22. deRuiter says:

    For a person with moderate activity level, you can get a good idea of how many calories you need to eat each day to get to and then sustain your desired weight by multplying your ideal weight by 11 calories, and the result is roughly the amount of calories you should eat each day. At the beginning you will lose weight, and then theoretically you will hit your goal weight, and stay there. In reality, when you’re close to goal, you may have to play around with the number of calories you use as the multiplier. Calories count. Fat people eat more calories than they burn. A few people may be on steroids and unable to lose weight, but the rest of fat people are over eaters, often sneak eaters. The proof is in photos of concentrqation camp victims during the second World War, none of them were fat! The prisoners were on 800 calorie a day diets through no fault of their own, and they all became skeletal, there are no fatties amoung the inmates who were in the camps any length of time. The prisoners were also required to do heavy labor each day. Fat peole eat more calories than they burn, and they frequently lie to themselves about how many calories they consume. Weight training will help build muscle, which is smaller and firmer than fat.

  23. Matt says:

    Hi Trent,
    Best of luck with achieving your goal. Since I use a lot of strategies that you recommend on this site, I’m sure you’ll be successful with this goal. Some strategies I’ve “borrowed” from you and Leo at Zen Habits include trying to focus on changing your habit – so focus on the first 21 days – and remember you are not losing weight, you are changing your lifestyle so enjoy and find pleasure in this new lifestyle. Good for you.

  24. AndreaS says:

    I want to second what deRuiter wrote, including about using a multiplier. I believe most people with modest activity maintain at about 12 or 13 calories a pound… as an older woman I am an 11. So when dieting if you multiply your current body wight by say 9, and as you lose weight continue to multiply by 9, you will gradually decrease calories. There is no need to cut calories way back to say under 2000 calories if you are a big guy. Using the multiplier method, you will still have plenty of calories to not be hungry, just omit the junk. If 9 seems too slow for what you want to lose, try 8, if too fast try 10. If you try to lose weight eating the same total of calories a day you would lose very fast at first, but as you got closer to your target weight, you could plateau, as your body will need way less calories when you weigh less.
    I agree about the need to count calories. Though some people manage by cutting portions, I like counting calories better. Everyone does it differently. I rough count by rounding foods to the nearest 25-calorie increment. Many foods are naturally at about 100 calories per serving, for example: a slice of bread, a banana, a glass of skim milk. By doing this rounding, it is easy to keep track, and easy to add. I often purposely eat in 50- or 100-calorie increments just to make counting easier. Of if eating a 75, I combine it with a 25, to simplify the math. Sounds weird I know, but it makes it easier for me.

  25. Johanna says:

    Were the concentration camp victims “getting fit the right way”?

  26. Michele says:

    Hi Trent,

    Thanks for sharing your resolution with us. Despite the many nay-sayers above, I’m sure you’ll be successful if you put your mind to it. I hope you’ll share more about the exercise plan as you develop it. I have similar weight issues, and the same wonderful motivations that you have -kids and grandkids! The approach your trainer is suggesting sounds very do-able. I’d be inclined to do at least the 1/2 hour a day, and I’d also really like to develop a better walking habit during 2012, so I may do the 1/2 hour per day along WITH walking each day.

    Thanks to @Lisa too, for the tip about bodybuilding.com. Bookmarking that site right now!

  27. SwingCheese says:

    @Steven: Thanks for the info. I do a mix of running, weight training and yoga, but I have a goal for this next year of running a half-marathon, and I’d like to be able to do it in less than 4 hours, haha! Hence the speed work that I need to do. I don’t know anything about HIIT, and I don’t want to hijack the comment thread, but if you could give me the name of a book or article to start with that has worked for you, I’d appreciate it. Thanks so much! :)

  28. Matt says:

    Trent, given your love of reading, and desire to lose weight, I suggest you read one or two books by Gary Taubes. I just finished the information-dense, textbook-like “Good Calories, Bad Calories”, while my wife read the shorter (and more accessible) “Why We Get Fat”. At a minimum, read his lengthy NY Times article “What if It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie?” from 2002.

    The research he’s done suggests that the conventional wisdom on diet and obesity is ambiguous at best. That is, “everyone” thinks that portion control of a high-carb, low-fat diet is best for you. But Taubes disagrees. His research suggests the following: eating carbohydrates causes an insulin spike in your body. Insulin is a “storage” hormone: it signals your body to store fat. This implies that if two identical people eat the same number of calories, but one diet is carb heavy, and the other has no carbs, the former is likely to gain weight, and the latter lose weight. This has been demonstrated many times in animals, and to a lesser extent in humans. It’s not so much the quantity of calories, but the kind of calories.

    So what do you eat? Meat, eggs, fish, leafy greens, and nuts. And immediately people will scream, “But what about your cholesterol?!” The conventional wisdom on cholesterol is tied closely to that of the low-fat diet. But the research at best shows a weak correlation between blood cholesterol levels and heart disease. Correlation does not imply causation. The latest research suggests that heart disease may be caused by prolonged states of inflammation, and that high levels of cholesterol are actually a result of the heart disease (rather than a cause).

    As for physical fitness: another book I encourage you to read is Mark Rippetoe’s “Starting Strength”. This book’s premise is that strength is the most important facet of physical fitness. Perhaps you don’t want to drink that kool-aid, but the book is probably the best self-instruction manual on how to do the most fundamental barbell strength exercises. (There is also a DVD by the same title.) In terms of “bang for your buck”, multi-joint compound strength exercises are impossible to beat: they work virtually every muscle in your body, in a way that the body evolved to move. These exercises are the squat, deadlift, overhead press, bench press and power clean. Most strength programs also include pullups or chinups.

    If you follow Rippetoe’s program, you will get stronger. It is hard work. But after an honest year on the program (meaning you faithfully follow it to the letter), it’s typical to be able to bench press your body weight, and squat 1.5x to 2x your body weight. A less intensive program—but one with slower gains—is Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 program.

    Consider also reading Lon Kilgore’s book “Fit”. It too states that strength is the most important aspect of physical fitness, however, it also talks about two other aspects: endurance (i.e. “cardio”) and mobility. Ultimately the book talks about how to design your own program that gives appropriate attention to each category of fitness. (But get Rippetoe’s book so that you learn to do the strength movements correctly.)

    Somewhere along the way in my readings about strength training, I saw a picture of a 70 year-old man deadlifting 400 pounds. Think about that: if you can pull 400 pounds off of the floor, I think it implies that ordinary life activities—including playing with your kids/grandkids—is not at all taxing. I think it implies that typical physical risks associated with old age are a non-issue (e.g.broken hips, muscle pulls, postural issues, etc). If you can lift 400 lbs off the floor, you’re unlikely to have a need for “assisted living”. Maybe I read into the picture too much. But I’m confident that if I can maintain that kind of strength into my golden years, it’ll be my grandkids that have trouble keeping up with *me*! :)

  29. Adam P says:

    15% excersize, 85% nutrition.

    I’ve heard this quoted from many nutritionists and personal trainers. It’s really about what you eat and how much you eat. Abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym.

    That said, combining cardio with strength training is definitely healthy too. Just don’t make the mistake of following a big workout with a huge carb laden meal, because you’ll probably gain rather than lose weight.

    Best of luck in 2012 Trent! I know your weight is something you’ve struggled with in the past and with young kids it surely isn’t easy!

  30. AndreaS says:

    #26. Johanne, the point about concentration camp survivors is only to underscore that it is about calories in and calories out. There is some thinking, which I believe to be wrong, that if you cut calories too far, you go into “starvation mode” and will not lose weight. This didn’t happen with concentration camp survivors. No one should diet on 800 calories.

    I wanted to follow up about cutting portions versus cutting calories. If you did your grocery shopping without looking at prices, but instead tried to reduce your grocery bill by putting fewer items in your cart, I suppose that would work, but it obviously is not the best way. You could put foods in the cart that you know to be generally cheaper, but then sometimes you would miss a great deal on meat, or buy produce when the price is extremely high. So obviously understanding about calories, how many calories per volume and nutrition, is the most effective way.

    Whenever there is some discussion about diet, everyone tosses out their ideas based on some studies or science, and these often contradict. Even scientists do not agree. Ultimately you have to figure out what works for you. Cutting out carbs doesn’t work for me, because I get grumpy and depressed without them. I have always known this, but it turns out this is supported by science, as carbs are needed for serotonin. The solution is to eat complex carbs with provide a slow steady mood boost all day. For some people a diet high in protein and low in carbs can cause something called “Atkins Attitude,” which was identified by MIT researchers. Protein competes with carbs for serotonin production. I believe everyone is different, so this either will or will not resonate with some people. I know this is the case with me. I knew it before I read it somewhere. It is hard to sustain a diet if it makes you moody.

    Lastly, obesity is an economic problem. I know a 300-pounder that just had a knee replacement, which costs $40K to $75K. I know of another very heavy man who has diabetes and has been on medications for many years, which cost his family a lot in out-of-pocket expenses. He had a scare in November (couldn’t breathe) and got inspired. He has lost 18 pounds so far. As a result is off 6 different medications.

  31. Johanna says:

    When it comes to diet, nutrition, and weight loss, you can find a book that purports to prove just about anything that you want to hear. But since we’re dishing out recommendations, I’ll add “Rethinking Thin” by Gina Kolata and “The Diet Myth” (also published with the title “The Obesity Myth,” but it’s the same book) by Paul Campos.

    Trent, last year you took the bold step of focusing on your health independent of your weight, and now you’re back to setting weight loss goals again? What gives? Is it just because that’s what your trainer told you to do? If so, then ditch this trainer and find another one – one that is sympathetic to the idea of “health at every size.”

  32. Johanna says:

    @AndreaS: *My* point about the concentration camp victims is that weight loss is not necessarily healthy, so focusing on weight when you are really interested in health is a bad idea.

    And thin people often have to have joint replacements too, you know.

  33. Jill says:

    I agree with Matt completely. You sound like one of the many of us who are carb-intolerant. “Why We Get Fat” is a quick read. I also strongly suggest Chris Kresser’s blog. He’s a doctor, and has no “sacred cows” when it comes to health and nutrition, just evidence based data. If nothing else, you could try Paleo for 30 days and don’t change anything else and see how you feel and how your weight responds. I’ve been reading about nothing but health for over two years, and Paleo and HIIT have the best support scientifically. Some people can eat vegetarian, but overweight people tend not to be those folks. Another thing to do is get a glucometer or borrow a friend’s and test your blood sugar one and two hours after a high-carb meal (like pasta without a lot of fat). If you are over 140 you are prediabetic and for sure carb intolerant. It’s how I found my own prediabetes, heading off some very undesirable health consequences on down the road. After changing my diet to low-carb/Paleo, I now control my blood sugars and the weight has dropped off. It’s clearly how some folks need to eat. The trick is just figuring out if you’re one of them or not. Good luck, and keep us posted!

  34. Steven says:

    @Swing Cheese: I don’t have any books that I would recommend, but I do spend a lot of time reading articles at Bodybuilding.com and Livestrong.com. These are both excellent sources of information. I’d recommend everyone check them out.

  35. Riki says:

    “I know a 300-pounder . . . ”

    You know, AndreaS, that ’300-pounder’ is a person and I find that language to be very inconsiderate. How about “I know a person who weighs 300 pounds” as a better phrasing?

    Words matter, even online.

  36. AndreaS says:

    It is not hard to do some quickie online research regarding knee replacements. In one study of 18-to 50-year-olds, 72% of those needing knee replacements were obese.

  37. J.D. Roth says:

    Trent, my friend, lots of people are going to give you advice (and they already have), but the best thing you can do is find something that works for you and stick with it. For me, the thing that worked was Crossfit. I’m sure you know about it, and I’d encourage you to at least check it out. It’s expensive, but it does just what you’re after: mixes strength with high-intensity cardio. It’s not the only path to success, of course, but it’s the one that has worked for me.

    Diet is important too, and especially portion control. I see there are a couple of Taubes fans here. I’m not one of them. His science is dubious at best. He ignores the things that disagree with his viewpoints, for instance. For me, “moderation in all things” has been key. I’ve reduced my portions, increased my protein intake, and tried not to binge eat when stressed. Other than that, I don’t have a list of good and bad foods. Such lists make me feel guilty.

    The key, I think, is to make fitness a priority. So far, it hasn’t been a priority for you. You say that it has, but it hasn’t. As somebody else said, if you have time to read 100 books, you have time to lose 50 pounds.

    I know this is going to be a series of posts with your list of resolutions. But if I were you, I’d stop with this one. Set only one goal for 2012. Focus on killing it. That’s what I did in 2010, and I lost forty pounds and gained a ton of muscle. Why? Because I didn’t have other goals distracting me. I could concentrate on the one thing I decided mattered most. You can do that too. And I think you should.

    But then, as I said at the start, there are lots of people with lots of advice. You need to decide what works for you. :)

  38. Johanna says:

    @AndreaS: Four things:

    First, correlation does not equal causation. If a disease/condition is correlated with higher body weight, it could mean that being heavier causes the disease, or it could mean that the disease causes you to gain weight.

    Second, there are also diseases/conditions correlated with lower body weight. Think osteoporosis.

    Third, none of this happens in a vacuum. If a thin person goes to the doctor with the beginning stages of osteoarthritis, they’re more likely to be taken seriously and given treatment that may help them avoid a joint replacement. If a heavy person goes to the doctor for the same reason, the doctor is likely to say “Go away until you lose weight.” I have no idea how much of the correlation between weight and joint replacements this might explain. But fat hatred in the medical community exists and is not irrelevant.

    Fourth, if what you’re worried about is economic impacts, what is the economic impact of millions of people trying (and largely failing) to lose weight? Imagine how much more economically productive we could all be if we took the time, money, and mental energy that we’ve been spending on weight loss and did something else with it instead.

  39. Steven says:

    “Fat hatred”? I wonder if it’s not just that people (doctors included) see people who are overweight as being unconcerned with their health. It’s like a smoker who needs a heart transplant. Do we not also pass judgement on that person?

    Being overweight leads to so many health problems that I think it is at least somewhat reasonable to suggest the person lose the weight before treating them for a symptom of the problem rather than dealing with the cause.

  40. SwingCheese says:

    @Steven: I’ll check those sites out, thank you!

  41. Riki says:

    Seriously Steven? Are you really advocating that we refuse treatment for a problem because a person is overweight or obese?

    How about treating the issue while simultaneously working on weight loss? How about acknowledging that weight loss is a seriously complicated issue? I guarantee you every single obese person knows the “eat less than you burn” rule. They probably think about it every single day too. That fact doesn’t make losing weight easy.

    Acknowledging that losing weight is difficult is not the same as making excuses.

    You know what doesn’t help at all? Seeing the fat and not the person. Treating obese people as second-class citizens who don’t deserve medical treatment until they lose weight.

  42. Johanna says:

    @Steven: First of all, not every health problem that a heavy person faces is the direct result of his or her weight. By assuming that everything is “a symptom of the problem,” doctors can overlook serious but unrelated problems.

    Second, even if a health problem is the direct result of a person’s weight, telling them to lose weight isn’t always the best way to treat it. For many people, losing 1 pound per week means it would take years to get down to a “normal” BMI, but the health problem may need to be treated sooner than that.

    Finally, “seeing people who are overweight as being unconcerned with their health” *is* fat hatred, just like making generalizations about people based on their race is racism. Do you need me to spell it out for you?

  43. Steven says:

    Comment stuck in moderation.

  44. Okay, you started out so well Trent… but then to end in stating your goal as loosing such and such amount of weight…. that isn’t something you completely control. You can do all the right things and your body will loose, but it may do it irregularly, slowly, etc. So instead of a loose such and such as your goal, your goal should be to regularly exercise cardio and strength. 15 to 30 minutes per day every day is a great start, but you may need more to loose weight. (Unless your better at cutting calories than I. I find I love food, so exercise more. I do about 40 minutes of cardio daily and do about 10 minutes of strength training about 4 to 6 days a week, rotating the different muscle groups. (And yes, I lost 50 pounds in 2010 and so far have managed to keep it off.)

  45. BirdDog says:

    I’ve lost 101 pounds in the past two years. I lost the first 60 or 70 following the standard, “eat less, exercise more” that we’ve all had drilled into our heads. That weight came off in less than a year. Then, I hit a plateau that lasted over a year. It was frustrating to say the least. I was even running 5K’s and a 10K and still could not drop any additional weight. Growing frustrated, I finally decided to try the one approach I had never tried before, a lower carb diet. Since September, I’ve lost about 30 pounds. I has been a God-send for breaking through my plateau. And yes, I still eat vegetables!

    The key is finding a lifestyle that works for you. Low carb works great for me because it has eliminated all of my cravings. I’m smaller than I was in my early 20′s and that was ten years ago. I feel great. But remember, it isn’t something that you just have to do for a few months or a year and the. Go back to your old ways. It is something you are going to have to work on and be committed to for the rest of your life.

    Stay focused!

  46. BirdDog says:

    Sorry, that should be two and a half years, not just two.

  47. Peggy says:

    Forget about “losing weight” and focus on reducing the percentage of fat on your body. You don’t want to lose lean mass (which consists of bone and muscle). Also, if you’re going to remain a vegetarian, I would recommend making sure you add at least a heaping TB of a BCAA supplement to each meal you eat.

    And, to add to the growing list of the “I know best” suggestions already given, I’d recommend following The Fat Loss Bible ebook by Anthony Colpo

  48. Eden says:

    Since it’s been pretty well explained by others above, I’m just here to agree that the lifts in “Starting Strength” (squats, deadlifts, overhead press), combined with a Paleo (low carb) diet will do wonders. I used to believe that calories in – calories out was the only way to skin this cat, but am now convinced that quality (of food and exercise) matters as much or more than quantity.

  49. marta says:

    You have been struggling with your weight and your fitness for years now. If you really want to be fit, you *need* to make it a priority. Forget about reading 100 books, solving Rubik cubes or writing two novels(seriously?!). Have your year of fitness where you really focus on this goal and on finding a fitness routine that works for you — and stop with the excuses. Once you have made it a *routine* it’s just a matter of keeping with it.

    Losing 52 pounds? What happened to the 40 pounds you had lost before? I remember that whenever someone challenged you on something you wrote about diet or fitness, you’d say something like “this works, I have lost XX pounds doing this”.

    I hope you don’t have any reading goals for 2012. We already know you read a lot and it’s not such a challenging goal…

  50. Larabara says:

    I think a good motivator for Trent to exercise would be to tie his love for books to his working out. In other words, he can only read the next chapter of a book AFTER he has exercised. Then, he’ll be rewarded with something he likes (reading) after doing something he’s not so fond of (exercise). It requires some self-discipline to make sure you don’t cheat by skipping the workout and reading anyway, however.

  51. I secone #29 Matt’s suggestion of Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength. It is THE perfect beginner’s guide to strength training and his no BS forum at the startingstrength.com is both helpful and motivational.

    JD is right, however, it is most important to find something that you will stick with.

    Best of luck in 2012!

  52. Suzanne says:

    Don’t worry about getting injured. If your form is correct, you won’t get injured. Sore, probably at first, but that’s normal. Proper weight lifting/workout form is a great benefit of having a personal trainer. If you don’t like getting yelled at, just tell the trainer that you simply want to learn the exercises. Every trainer is different, and maybe he will give you a plan to work with that you can do on your own. There are so many great plans out there that it’s overwhelming at times to decide what to do.

    You should push yourself to work harder and don’t just settle for 15 minutes a day. I find it hard to believe that will truly pay off on the long haul. And why bother getting dressed to work out if you’re only doing it 15 minutes. Give it at least a half hour!

    I think the stability ball is one of the best pieces of equipment out there! I hope it helps your back. Good luck with the new goals/routine!

  53. fred says:

    you know, i have read through your blog a bit and it seems you’ve struggled with weight for a while now. your recent diet change hasn’t seemed to help in this regard based on this resolution being even more lofty than previous years’. maybe it is time to look into what others are suggesting. change it up this year and see what happens.

    everything i have read about finance says the small changes don’t help much when faced with a daunting goal or debt. drastic changes need to be made. you need to make a big lifestyle change to have an impact. little ones won’t do it.

    also, i have read you are into gaming. why not try the xbox kinect? it is a great way to combine gaming with exercise.

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