Just to refresh…I started this post in January and completely forgot to finish it. I have just rediscovered it and thought it should be finished. This is why it relates to “this time of year”.
I am fortunate enough to have quit smoking nearly 8 years ago. At this time of year there will be many smokers embarking on a quitting smoking plan, determined to give up smoking cigarettes for good. My full support goes out to you all and I hope you succeed!
The biggest problem for many is the comfort eating that often occurs after giving up smoking. Eating sweets to provide a distraction from cigarettes may initially seem a good idea but as your waistline expands you may think otherwise. I am qualified to comment because I found a friend in food when I stopped smoking. Too good a friend!
I gained around 34 pounds and tipped the scales at a hefty 245 pounds! I was passing the bedroom mirror and caught sight of this fat guy looking back at me. This was the turning point for me. I made the decision to lose weight and get back in shape, (who am I kidding, I had never been in shape in the first place), and to eat a healthy diet.
First stop was the local leisure centre to join the gym. After my induction course I was set to go and so began my quest. I took the opportunity to have my bodyfat measured using a bodyfat monitor. A series of electrodes are fastened to your hands and feet and a small electrical current is then passed through them. Apparently fat is not a good conductor and so it follows that more fat creates more resistance to the electrical current running through your body.
The results were conclusive! I was overweight and fat.
35% bodyfat is not something to be proud of and I certainly was not feeling very proud about myself at this point. With the expert help of Andy the gym instructor, (who used to be an army instructor I later discovered), a plan was devised. Both diet and exercise were planned out meticulously with the aim of losing weight and reducing bodyfat levels.
I am not going to even try and lie to you, it was hard work. At first my fitness levels were non-existent and I struggled to perform even a few minutes light exercise on the exercise equipment. I was sinking on the rower, falling off the bike and feeling run down on the treadmill, it was depressing. I considered giving up after only a few days but Andy and a few others encouraged me to stick at it. I did, and am I glad!
After only a week, I saw a reduction in my weight. It was only a couple of pounds but it lifted me up and made me feel wonderful. That was it, I was staying the course for definite. The weight was coming off, if it wanted to or not. As the weeks went by, my fitness levels increased and I was soon doing 20-30 minutes on the treadmills and rowers at a moderate rate without feeling ready to drop. The weight continued to come off as well. I was feeling good.
After a month of cardio and fitness training, Andy said it was time to introduce resistance training or weight training, whichever you prefer. Now this was a new challenge and made me realise that I was not as strong as I thought. When first starting weight training be careful not to overdo it as you will live to regret it later. And yes, this is exactly what I did. I trained too hard too fast with weights and 2 days later could hardly move. It was painful but educating.
I have to admit that I became fanatical about my exercise and went to the gym everyday. I reduced my calorie intake and increased my protein intake to help build muscle after performing the weight training. I was doing both cardio and weight training on the same day, in the same session actually. I later realised that this is not always the best approach.
I could continue to write everything about my exercise and diet regime but it would be dull, so I will jump forward to approximately 3 months later and it was time for another weigh in and bodyfat measurement. Now this has always confused me. Andy performed the second bodyfat measurement using the same equipment as before. It was his own personal equipment.
After attaching the electrode pads and running the tests, I was a little surprised, actually very surprised at the result. I had reduced my bodyfat percentage from 35% to 21% . Now that felt good! I had noticably lost weight but the percentage surprised me. After some calculations Andy proudly told me I had lost approximately 20 something pounds of bodyfat and gained approximately 9 pounds of muscle. How accurate this was I cannot say but I looked and felt way better than I had for a long time. My fitness levels were vastly improved, my moods were so good it scared me.
This was nearly 8 years ago now and I have managed to maintain my gym visits. I am not as fanatical about it now and have to say, I now only go to the gym maybe 3-4 times a week. But I am still reasonably fit and my weight is under control. I have the occasional lapse and skip the gym for a week or so but then I remember the fat guy in the mirror and rush to the wardrobe to find my gym clothes.
I also found this product from Tom Venuto very helpful and informative. It helped me make good food choices while training.