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Help wanted, not sure what direction to go


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Greetings and salutations!

First of all, I'm not used to asking for help in any fashion but I need some. Apologies in advance for the wall of text that follows.

I've always been overweight and kept all this sort of things as private as possible so this is quite a bit different than what I'm used to. After countless "New Year Resolutions" (Most weren't made on January 1st, but they may as well have been considering how long they lasted), "Diet pills", "weight loss shakes" that met with minor success each time, I had a look in the mirror and did not like what I saw, at all. To top it off, my parent was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and during the session, the diabetes educator looked at me and told me I'm a prime candidate too because of my obesity and she recommended strength training. So I joined a gym, it was a small gym but when you see people enter for the first time you can tell, they generally have that 'Please don't look at me, what am I doing here...' look and I guarantee you I felt the same when I first went there.

The instructor was really supportive when I explained my goals (get strong, lose weight etc etc, I'm sure he's heard it a million times before) and he took me around the weight machine circuit. It was pretty hard but rewarding. I kept at it and got stronger. Clothes didn't get looser though.

Skip forward a few months, not much has changed even though I'd been going diligently but I had started to donate whole blood (different story, but it's still relevant to this to a degree, I'll explain in a bit) and I signed up to the gyms first boot camp. Eight weeks of hard training in the gym as well as outside of it and controlled diet, hard work but in those eight weeks I saw weight loss and the best cardiovascular fitness I've ever experienced in my life. When we started I could manage 1.2 on the beep test, when we finished 4.5 and I lost 12.6KG (About 27lbs I believe) as well as 73cm (28.7inch) from my body, which was a combination of arms, legs, chest and waist. Seems I'd found something that worked. Started the next eight week boot camp four weeks later and went from 4.2 to 5.5 in the beep test and lost 10KG (22lbs). Good results, but I got bored of running, I was more interested in getting stronger.

I've since not participated in another boot camp but I did do six weeks of personal training which was organised through my work. My strength went up with that, not sure about my weight or measurements though I did have fun, unfortunately it was organised through work but I couldn't continue it as it turned out to be rather expensive.

Bringing it back to where I mentioned blood donation, each time we have to get weighed and our blood pressure taken and it's recorded, so here's mine.

07-Jul-2010 - 130KG - 146/88 (Had been at the gym for three months)

23-Sep-2010 - 135KG - 138/78 (Absorbed with static weight training, wrong diet I'll admit that)

16-Dec-2010 - 121KG - 134/75 (Towards the end of the first boot camp)

03-Mar-2011 - 110KG - 130/81 (Towards the end of the second boot camp)

26-May-2011 - 113KG - 135/70

18-Aug-2011 - 119KG - 134/75

10-Nov-2011 - 122KG - 134/80

29-Dec-2011 - 113KG - 118/75 (Next part explains the drop)

I came across this website called nerdfitness.com and on it was this guy named Steve who was advocating this thing called paleo and later on an Angry Birds workout. Now being a gamer this amused me so I gave it a go.

Here's my results:

Original weight (measured in the evening): 123KG

Week 2 (evening): 118.4KG / 24% body fat

Week 4 (evening): 118KG / 22.4%

Week 6 (morning): 116KG / 23.7%

Week 9 (afternoon): 110KG / 22.3%

Week 11 (afternoon): 108KG / 22.6%

My current routine is:

Monday: Angry Birds routine

Tuesday: 45min circuit at the gym

Wednesday: Nothing anymore, used to be Angry Birds routine but I was told I was doing too much(?)

Thursday: 45min circuit at the gym

Friday: Angry Birds routine

Saturday & Sunday: Rest days

Currently I'm up to 50 jump squats, 100 incline push ups, 3x10 inverted rows and five minutes planking. (Fun fact: When I first started angry birds workout, my absolute best planking time was 55seconds, now it's 140seconds)

A typical meal day for me is:

Breakfast: Smoothie made from protein power, a banana, some honey, cinnamon and milk

Lunch: Bacon, egg, avocado and tomato mix or some par-boiled vegetables or a chicken caesar salad

Dinner: Meat and par-boiled vegetables or soup

Snacks: Almonds, protein powder and water or beef jerky (when I've made some)

I'm in the middle of week twelve at the moment and as you can see, my weight is dropping but not my body fat. The trainer told me it's because my body is using my glycogen(?) storage in my muscles since it's easier than converting body fat to fuel and also because I'm not eating enough complex carbs to fuel my body. I haven't eaten grains or grain by products for twelve and a bit weeks now, sort of a do it all or don't do it at all sort of person which is evidently a double edged sword.

My concern is my body fat percentage isn't dropping, despite my efforts and I'm not sure what to do.

I'm sorry for the wall of text, just wasn't sure how or where to start so I just gave you everything.

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Welcome aboard Aedan! As a fellow newbie, maybe I can help you out.

First, I noticed you mentioned that your trainer showed you around the machines. If you're still using weight machines on your circuit, I'd suggest immediately moving to free weights. These will work your stabilizer muscles as well and help you avoid injury. Using only machines gives you fairly non-functional strength.

One thing I noticed that really got da fat off for me was doing the Body Weight circuits. I started with the Beginner Body Weight routine doing inverted rows because I was unable to do pullups.

[TABLE=class: grid, width: 500, align: center] [sIGPIC][/sIGPIC] Shmikey Lvl 1 Half-Elf Assassin | STR: 3 | DEX: 2 | STA: 2 | CON: 2 | WIS: 3 | CHA: 3 |
"True courage is the ready and steadfast acceptance of whatever pains are incidental to securing the personal and public ends that are at stake." -William De Witt Hyde [/TABLE]
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Thank you for the reply Shmikey. Yeah I've not used the weight machines for quite a while, at least twelve and a bit weeks since I started on the Angry Birds routine which is all based on using your body weight; Squats, pushups, inverted rows/bent over rows/pull ups and planking.

I'm also currently unable to perform a full pull up, but my aim is (as Steve put it so nicely) One. Freaking. Pull up. Half way so far, but that's better than the no way when I first started.

EDIT

I suppose what I'm really after is these two things:

1) How do you know when you're doing too much (ie. Can I go back to five days a week)

2) Should I start eating a limited amount of grains to ensure I get 'complex carbs'

-Seems strange the body won't start using up body fat to fuel it's workouts

/EDIT

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Hell yes, halfway is better than no way! Before you know it you'll get that first one, just keep at it. In reply to your post;

1) I'd say the best thing to do is to listen to your body; it will tell you when you're doing too much. If you were happier exercising 5 days a week, I don't see why you shouldn't. Programs like p90x have you working 5 days a week, so I doubt it would be "too much" as long as you're giving yourself a couple rest days.

2) I think a healthy dose of science will help you here! Try adding a moderate amount of carbs to your diet and see if that does help your results. Maybe add some steel-cut oatmeal to your breakfast routine; they're minimally processed, keep you feeling full for a long time since they take a while to digest, and are WAY better for you than the sugar-bomb snotty crap that comes in the pouches. Also, they are super delicious!

[TABLE=class: grid, width: 500, align: center] [sIGPIC][/sIGPIC] Shmikey Lvl 1 Half-Elf Assassin | STR: 3 | DEX: 2 | STA: 2 | CON: 2 | WIS: 3 | CHA: 3 |
"True courage is the ready and steadfast acceptance of whatever pains are incidental to securing the personal and public ends that are at stake." -William De Witt Hyde [/TABLE]
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Hey aedan, welcome to the Rebellion!

Actually, I'm not sure if adding carbs to your diet will get you the body fat off...if anything, it'll keep your body from burning fat because it'll have the glycogen to run off of. At least that what it seems like to me. I suppose there's also the issue of how much you're eating, and whether you're trying to build muscle or lose fat, because from what I've learned around here, you don't really do both at the same time. You can build muscle strength while eating a caloric deficit and lose body fat, or you can build muscle size while eating a caloric excess and not lose body fat.

Be sure to ask around on the boards, as there are people who have figured out ways to do both. But that might be something to ponder.

However, I agree with Shmikey about only doing things 5 days a week. Days of rest are actually extremely important, because that's when muscles are built. So yeah, take the days off when you need them, and you might find yourself stronger in the days that follow.

Hope this helps!

~~~

And of course, congrats on all the amazing progress you've made so far! Forgot to say that earlier, so I wanted to be sure to get it in somewhere. :)

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle

If you have the inspiration, you have the talent. Strive to be happy. :)

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Cheers for the reply again Shmikey, highly appreciated!

I'll have a look for some steel-cut oatmeal and add that to the breakfast smoothie but I'll admit I'm a little apprehensive as I've avoided grains and sugar for twelve and a bit weeks now.

EDIT

Thanks for the kind words Sco, I'm really trying to build strength (That pull up... One day!) and lose body fat. I'll take the advice from both of you regarding listening to my body, especially after last night I feel a bit worn out.

/EDIT

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Update:

Week 13 (afternoon): 108KG / 22.4%

No weight loss but that's no surprise considering I haven't done any exercise for five days, but by gosh have I been hungry...

Ate a wholemeal chicken salad roll today because there wasn't anything else available in the short time I had, feel a bit disappointed in myself really, but hey... Thirteen weeks with no grain isn't too bad.

Body weight percentage hasn't shifted much, not sure where to go from here except to try at least a 30min cardio workout per day, will let you know how that goes.

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You might also consider tracking how many calories you're eating in a day (not forever, but maybe a few days at least) to see if you're eating a caloric excess or deficit in regards to how many you're burning through exercise. Loosely, deficit + exercise = weight loss and muscle strengthening. Excess + exercise = no weight loss and muscle size increase. Be sure to ask around on the eating guild boards about this - Healthy Eating Guild and Caveman Guild (Primal/Paleo) (I am no expert either, but I'm learning. :))

Just some thoughts that hopefully help! Of course, eating cleanly and along the paleo path helps too, but one chicken roll isn't going to destroy you. 13 weeks is great, so keep up the good work! :)

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle

If you have the inspiration, you have the talent. Strive to be happy. :)

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Second update:

Week 15+1day (afternoon): 104KG / 22.2%

I'm a lot happier, still struggling with which direction to take it, but this is encouraging so I'm going to continue slogging away at it.

Can do 3/4 of a chin up now (So it should improve considering I have to lift 4KG less, haha) and I'm going to start some personal training at the gym.

Thanks NF for putting up with my long winded and whiny posts, I'll be sure to keep you appraised of the situation as it develops.

EDIT

I had a good read of Life after 30 days and actually went out and ate a pizza (gluten free of course), glorious!

That pizza and small bits of 75% or 85% cocoa chocolate is making it more enjoyable too, so I'm having fun again!

/EDIT

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