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I'm 21 years old. My height is 6'5'' and I weigh 108kg or around 240 pounds. My build is OK apart from the stomach where the most of my body fat seems to be! I can start to feel that it's getting really unhealthy, and even though other parts of my body doesn't really show that I have a high body fat, my stomach (and the area around it) definitely shows it.

So as you can probably guess, I want to get rid of it. So I will explain my weekly routine in detail, so that people are able to point out my bad areas.

First of all I AIM to work out 3 times a week, which sometimes decreases to 2 or even 1. When I'm working out I normally focus a lot on bicep tricep and chest. I do feel however that this is not the right workout in my situation. When ever I train my lower back or I run for 5-6 mins, my lower backs start aching, and I have a feeling that it's very weak. This may be due to the excessive fat that I'm carrying around my stomach.

My eating routine is not the greatest. I eat a lot of bread, and even though it's wholemeal most of the time, I generally have 2/3 of my meals with at least 4-5 slices of bread per meal. I eat a lot of ready made sandwiches (purchased from my uni). On top of this I don't drink too much water. I have a can of redbull and a bottle of diet coke almost every day.

I do realize many of the things I'm doing wrong, the problem for me is that I don't know what to replace them with. If I stop drinking/eating the stuff that I shouldn't I just replace it with nothing and end up lasting only 1-2 days without it.

Sorry for the long post, but can someone please help me out. I need advice on a weekly training schedule and some diet advice. I'm very interested in losing the fat around my stomach but also to build some muscle.

Thank you.

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you should check out stronglifts.com or startingstrength.com –  DForck42 Oct 8 '12 at 4:34
    
and another place for a lot of help and motivation and community is nerdfitness.com –  DForck42 Oct 8 '12 at 4:35
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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Well I could easily suggest a lot of things to you, that might be right, but wont help you.

Get rid of the coke and red bull, eat more vegetables and fruit, do more cardio.

Well actually all of this is what will help you, but you don't have to be following it strictly.

Diet

Drink less coke, buy smaller bottles or just a half. Try to get used to drinking mineral water. I personally prefer to drink water or milk, even when I drink a juice I will fill it up with water, just because most stuff is far too sweet for me. But still on occasion I'll drink a bottle of coke when I feel like.

Put less on your bread, have you tried it without butter or sauce? Replace one of your meals with a low calorie meal, instead of 4 slices of bread, maybe just eat some raw veggies with a dip (some low fat variant). Fruit and vegetables have a lot less calories but fill you up. If you buy stuff, turn the packing around and try to get a feeling which items are caloric bombs.
Although the method of calories isn't very accurate, it probably is the easiest one and works for a lot of people.

Eating healthier should not be a sacrifice but make you feel good. Basically it is just looking for alternatives and replacement. If you dislike the taste of a low fat variant ask yourself: "is this really disgusting or does it just taste different but not bad?".

Take your time when eating, when you munch your food and stuff yourself quickly your body has no time to realize that it is no longer hungry. Thats why I love to eat complicated food, something that takes some time while eating. Like peeling something of each part of what you eat simply will make you eat slower.

Back pain

Your back probably aches because you don't train it. Back and shoulder exercises are probably the most stupid looking ones and the ones were you wont immediately see an effect. If you don't feel comfortable doing them in the gym, you can easily do them at home.

Try planks and sideplanks for your core, you can do them every day.
Superman is a great exercise, too.
YTWL is a shoulder exercise, even if you already train your shoulders at least give it a try once to see.

The next exercise I'd recommend for training the back are squats. Do them slowly and try to focus on core work when you do them. I prefer to do them unweighted and deep, but in all variants they work out the core in addition to the legs.

Plan

Weigh yourself every day and write it down. Preferably in some table calculation program (like Excel) to create a nice graph out of it. Doing this really motivated me, seeing results after some weeks was nice.

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Oh and I tend to forget. If you happen to be from the US, try substituting the fluffy mass you call bread over there with real bread. Maybe you happen to have a bakery near you that makes it, or you do it yourself. Cooking and baking is the next thing you should try, it makes you a lot more aware of what you eat. –  Baarn Oct 7 '12 at 14:14
    
Thank you a lot for that advice! The funny thing is that I AM aware of all this that I'm doing wrong but I just choose to ignore it and just carry on. But enough is enough. I'm looking forward to doing those exercises that you sent me. Once again thanks a lot. I will set up an excel table where I will be keeping track of my weight. :) –  Danny Oct 7 '12 at 14:15
    
I'm not from the US. Right now I live in the UK but I grew up in Denmark, so I know exactly what you mean. I used to eat Rye Bread every day. To be honest, I was a lot healthier in Denmark, I find that healthy food in UK is actually harder to find? Not sure if that's just me, or whether it's actually the case. –  Danny Oct 7 '12 at 14:16
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I've been only twice to the UK, and my impression on UK food is that it indeed is pretty unhealthy. Not just because of what is eaten but everything is submerged in fat and oil. I only use a teaspoon of oil to fry a scrambled egg, in the UK all eggs were fried in like half a gallon (at least thats how they looked like). –  Baarn Oct 7 '12 at 14:23
    
But I guess you can still live very healthy with UK cuisine and food, when you just try to do it right. I mean, German food isn't know for its healthiness either. –  Baarn Oct 7 '12 at 14:25
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I feel for you. I had a similar starting place at the beginning of this year. Bad back pain, 60 pounds overweight, little knowledge of fitness, etc. Back pain is actually a great motivator to exercise: with the right set of exercises, I can get fast improvements in pain so that I actually have something to remind me to exercise. Back pain is sort of like a really obnoxious gym coach. :-) Here's what I've learned so far.

Back Pain: I'd recommend Yoga. It's been tremendously helpful for my upper and lower back pain. (Since you're a university student, I'd note that my alma mater had free yoga classes available for students, not that I ever went to them.) In addition to the back pain exercises mentioned by @Informaficker, I find crunches helpful for my lower back. See also the pelvic tilt/curl Pilates exercise, which is simple but very effective for mobilizing your lower back and strengthening weak muscles there. If your gym has one of these, use it. It's very helpful in strengthening your lower back muscles, and you can also use it to strengthen your lats. It's not particularly difficult, and easy to scale up/down on as pain requires.

Aerobic Exercise Reasonably intense exercise doesn't have to be high impact. If you struggle with maintaining exertion over 4-5 minutes, try going slower with less impact. While HIIT (high intensity interval training) gets a lot of press, the fact is that it's really hard. You can get a lot of the benefits of cardio with less intense exercise, and work your way up. The important thing is to find anything you can actually do that leaves you somewhat out of breath while you're doing it. Keep doing it for 20-60 minutes. For me, that's a brisk walk on a treadmill at a very steep incline. I started walking at a 5% incline and 3.2mph for 30 minutes, and have worked my way up to an 11% incline at 3.9mph for 50 minutes. It's not super-intense exercise, but I'm usually drenched in sweat by the end. I usually even read a book while on the treadmill.

Diet and Weight Loss Despite losing around 40 pounds so far this year, I actually have little idea what the "right" diet is for weight loss. I'm not sure there is one, or at least one strongly supported by the evidence as both healthy and effective. (Low carb diets are apparently effective and possibly healthy, but I found low-carb almost impossible to stick with while having a life.) As you'll see below, my diet is so-so: for me, exercise seems to be the key to weight loss.

The only bits of advice that I've found that seem effective Protein leads to satiety. I try to eat unsweetened greek yogurt (look for something with ~75% of calories from protein), tuna fish, boiled eggs, lentils, etc. I would advise finding some high protein foods you enjoy and eat mainly those. Bread is not particularly high protein, but most lean meats get a very high percentage of the calories from protein. Monotony reduces hunger. I try to eat the same small set of things. Things I enjoy eating, but the same things. That probably sounds depressing, but if you pick the right set of foods it's not bad.

@Informaficker is definitely right that weight tracking is a good motivator, and that sugary drinks are bad (switch to tea, coffee or water). For tracking, I like The Hacker's Diet website. It's bare-bones, but it automatically produces an exponentially-smoothed moving average of your weight, which smooths out day-to-day variations (mostly water and bowel movements), and shows you the real trend over time. Seeing that trend line react to things you eat and exercise can really be very motivating. It's important that you weigh yourself at consistent times, and preferably close to naked, or the signal will be much noisier. Different clothes can vary significantly in their weight, and I've seen my weight fluctuate by 2-5 pounds over the course of the day. It's much more consistent first thing in the morning.

Note that it will probably seem like you aren't making much progress, even when you are. Weight loss of 1Lb/week equates to a 500 calorie/day deficit, which is a lot of work and great progress. But 1Lb/week is nothing compared to day-to-day fluctations of 1-5 pounds. You can only see the trend over time, so don't get discouraged by setbacks and fluctuations. Even half a pound per week is still 26 pounds per year!

Finally, here's what I usually do in a week:

  • Bike to work every weekday, 4 miles/day.
  • Monday, Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday: 1 hour yoga class, 40 minutes of crunches, pushups, weight-assisted pullups, arm circles with hand weights (5-10Lb) and the reverse-situp machine mentioned above. 50 minutes on the treadmill at a brisk walk with a steep incline.
  • Breakfast: 1/4 cup (dry) oat bran hot cereal, with berries, walnuts and milk. Some vegetables on the side: eg carrots, kalamata olives. Coffee with heavy cream, no sugar. Four fish oil capsules. Sometimes I eat Greek yogurt instead of the oat bran.
  • Lunch: Usually crappy restaurant food. I try to forego starchy sides, notably ask for Asian food with no rice.
  • Dinner: Frequently lentil soup, rye crackers, and goat cheese or yogurt. Lentil soup is one of the few things I cook because it's very filling, is insanely cheap, and is easy to make lots of leftovers. Four fish oil capsules. Usually a few glasses of red wine.
  • Snacks: I avoid snacks as much as possible. I go for either fruit (apple, orange, berries, banana) or yogurt when I lose resolve.
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