Open Forum Fitness Discussion and Testimony

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15 Sep 2020 09:18 #354614 by Verheilen
Hello there! I've been looking for ways to contribute to the forums and I think that creating this thread is a good start. My goal here will be to first talk about myself, how I got into fitness, and how it's changed my life. Then I would encourage others to do the same. Even if it's not a massive part of your life, maybe just sharing something active that you like to do that would encourage others to do the same. I'd also like to encourage people to ask me questions in regards to physical fitness. I don't know everything, nor am I a licensed personal trainer, but I'd be happy to answer any questions people have that are within my ability to answer. Let's get started!

I've worked in the fitness industry for over 9 years, and I've been an avid workout enthusiast for a little over 10 or 11 years now. It all started on a trip that I took to Germany with my family. We toured the whole country over a 1 month period, this involved a lot of walking and generally not a lot of down time. At the time, I weighed about 340 lbs. I'm 6 ft 7 in tall so I wore it pretty well, or at least that's what friends and family told me. But all of that weight put a great amount of stress on my body. I found myself, for the first time, doing more physical activity then I had ever done before. I routinely found myself getting dizzy, having to catch my breath, and being unable to go for long periods without sitting down and taking a break. I was taken aback. Here I was just walking around, literally just walking around, and it was so difficult. It was a major eye opener.

I had never really cared about my weight. I certainly cared about not being attractive to the opposite sex or not being able to do certain physical activities that my friends and family could do, as any teenager might feel. But at my core, I was happy to laze around, play video games, eat junk food, drink a liter of soda a day, and generally not do anything active or strenuous. It wasn't until that trip to Germany that things started clicking for me in my head. If I kept going the way that I was going, not only would it become more difficult to do even more simpler things, but my health would suffer irreparable damage as well. So, after I returned from Germany I made the decision to get fit.

At first I just started with some lifestyle changes. I cut out sugar, soda, junk food, other sweets. Making huge changes to just my diet, because that was the simplest thing I could do. I wasn't ready to get a gym membership yet, I didn't want to put myself out there. Within the first 2 weeks of changing my eating habits, I lost 15 lbs. It was nuts. I've since learned that "fast and healthy" weight loss for men is about 3 to 4 lbs a week. But stopping all of those bad eating habits at the same time had a drastic effect on me. Over the next year or so, I began to experiment with working out at home. My dad had some 20 lb dumbbells at the house, so I looked up some basic exercise movements and started lifting. I would also go for long walks around the neighborhood and bike rides by the river near our house. Eventually a friend of mine got me into the gym and started working out with me. This friend also got me a job at the gym which allowed me to stop working at McDonald's, something that had caused a bit of a hiccup in my diet as I was eating the food there. I was happy to get out of that environment and into one that was more conducive to the lifestyle I was trying to live.

By this time I had dropped down to about 295 lbs. I had lost 45 lbs in a single year. Over the course of the next two years, through continued diet and exercise, I got down to my goal weight of 225 lbs. An additional 70 lbs. Now this is when things took an interesting turn. At this weight, the weight that according to the BMI (Body Mass Index) I should be weighing in at, I was incredibly skinny. I was just happy to not be fat anymore, I didn't consider that this weight was unhealthy too. I had made some even more drastic changes to my diet. I was eating less and less every month. This was unhealthy too. I wasn't sleeping well, I was getting headaches. I felt almost as weak as I did when I was 340 lbs. But I didn't care because I wasn't fat anymore. Eventually one of the trainers at the gym was able to convince me that I was feeling bad because I wasn't giving my body what it needed to operate at full capacity. So began the second stage of my fitness journey.

I started eating more, but keeping it healthy. Protein shakes, meats, veggies, snacks in between meals. My weight started to go back up, but not because I was getting fatter. I was gaining muscle mass. I felt great! I was looking fitter and feeling stronger. This continued for another year or so until I got back up to 265 lbs. This is the best that I felt in my whole life. I was able to run, bike, lift, play basketball, do all of the things that I wanted to do, and do them well. I was at a healthy weight that worked and made sense for me. It was awesome. I maintained this weight for a long time, and then I got hurt. Several times. Over a few years time, I rolled my ankle, injured my shoulder, and had to have surgery on my throat and nose. I fell back into some of my old habits. I couldn't work out, so my outlet for stress became food again. 3 years ago I ballooned back up to 325 lbs.

The last 3 years have been difficult. I'm currently hovering around 290 lbs. A lot of it is muscle mass that I've gained over the last several years, but there's a lot of unhealthy weight too. My goal is to get back to 265 lbs, but there's always setbacks. I'm learning new ways to keep myself from injury, keep myself from getting bored with my diet, and staying focused on my goal. It's hard to keep on track sometimes. I've worked my way up to being the GM of the gym I've worked at all these years, and physical fitness is still a huge part of my life. But it's hard to stay disciplined all the time. I want to go out and have dinner and drinks with friends, I don't always want to wake up and roll out of bed to do my stretches and morning fitness regime. I've found that having a workout partner, or someone to help keep you accountable, can be a huge help. With all of my friends settling down, having kids, etc, it's not always easy to coordinate workouts or participate in physical activities together.

It's late and I feel like I got part of the timeline of my story wrong, but the overall message is there. Fitness, like anything else, is a constant process. Sometimes you fall off the horse and have to pick yourself up and get back on. It's not always easy starting that process for the first time either. If this thread can help anyone in that regard, I'll count it as a success. It might benefit me too, having another forum in which to discuss these things. Again, I'd love to hear about anyone else's fitness journeys, discuss at home workouts during this pandemic, answer people's questions about fitness and the fitness industry. Any and all of those things, and possibly more!

To live will be an awfully big adventure. - Peter Pan
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15 Sep 2020 15:03 - 15 Sep 2020 15:05 #354629 by Eqin Ilis
Wow, that's quite the journey! Mine isn't so inspirational, but here goes:

I was spoiled growing up, because I had access to a lot of fun activities. Horsebackriding, trampolining, canoeing, archery, hiking, biking, skating, climbing, swimming, soccer, dance, gymnastics, judo, karate, fencing... I was in great shape accidentally. lol I'm pretty short, 5'2", so I'm not very impressive. But I can move a little. When I hit adulthood, staying fit got a little harder. All my hobbies were too expensive to continue, so walking to work was about the most I did. I'd always sworn it wouldn't happen to me, but it did.

I got my dream job a few years later, and just the amount of walking made me lose 20 pounds real quick. After a while, I was able to take up swordfighting off and on. Longsword, arming sword/buckler, and rapier/dagger mostly. Sometimes work would get real busy, and I wouldn't have time. So my wieght fluctuates a little. My diet was terrible all through my 20s, too. Mostly fast food and pasta... cheap stuff.

What really helped was finally getting a position paddling canoes. Getting paid to paddle was a real highlight of my life. I trimmed down to a size 30 waist, and bulked up my shoulders till I went up a shirt shize. No idea what I weighed, but my endurance was ridiculously high, and I felt great. I started eating healthier out there. Kinda had to just to keep up.

After a few years, I got relocated. I tried to eat a lot of salad and work out after work, but I put a little fat back on and lost a lot of that muscle. That's where I was at physically when lockdown started. Really lost a lot of muscle from inactivity then, and gained enough weight my clothes got tight. When Ring Fit came out, a friend recommended it, and it's really helping me get back in shape through home workouts. I'm terrible at doing boring workouts, but I love themed activities. I've been trimming back down since I started, though I still have some lovehandles. My shoulders and forearms are getting toned, and my endurance is getting better. Nowhere near my canoe days yet, but definately better than without it.

So that's me. I eat the rainbow, balance carb, fat, and protein as equally as I can, drink mostly water, and limit my caffiene and alcohol. Workout with my girlfriend, and try to keep an eye on my muscle tone and flexibility. Stretches are my weak point right now, so I really need to work on that. (I am not flexible at all.)

When surrounded by war, one must eventually choose a side. - Defenders of Peace, Clone Wars Series
A child stolen is a hope lost. - Sphere of Influence, Clone Wars Series
Those who enforce the law must obey the law. - The Academy, Clone Wars Series
Love comes in all shapes and sizes. - Hunt for Ziro, Clone Wars Series
Last edit: 15 Sep 2020 15:05 by Eqin Ilis.
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15 Sep 2020 19:02 #354637 by rugadd
I got jumped in an alley and joined martial arts soon after. I fell in love with how it made me feel even though it was hard. Its lasted more than 16 years and put quite a few gold medals/trophies on my shelf. Throw in good health and it speaks for itself.

rugadd
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15 Sep 2020 23:00 #354660 by Verheilen

Eqin Ilis wrote: So that's me. I eat the rainbow, balance carb, fat, and protein as equally as I can, drink mostly water, and limit my caffiene and alcohol. Workout with my girlfriend, and try to keep an eye on my muscle tone and flexibility. Stretches are my weak point right now, so I really need to work on that. (I am not flexible at all.)


Stretching is something that I've really gotten into lately. It's made a huge difference for me. I'm sleeping better, cramping less, and not tweaking my neck and shoulders anymore. I highly recommend starting a stretching regiment. 10-15 mins when you wake up, and again before bed. I always stretch before a workout too. It felt like a chore at first, but now I love it.

To live will be an awfully big adventure. - Peter Pan
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15 Sep 2020 23:04 #354661 by Verheilen

rugadd wrote: I got jumped in an alley and joined martial arts soon after. I fell in love with how it made me feel even though it was hard. Its lasted more than 16 years and put quite a few gold medals/trophies on my shelf. Throw in good health and it speaks for itself.


That's awesome! Not the getting jumped part, although I guess the silver lining was that it started you down that path. There are a ton of MMA gyms in my area and I'm always talking to people about how martial arts has completely turned their life around. Whether it's an outlet for them, or just for fitness.

To live will be an awfully big adventure. - Peter Pan
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17 Sep 2020 12:54 #354723 by rugadd
It is not a cure all, but impactful (see what I did there?) physical experience is a great tool for one to calibrate their sense of suffering.

rugadd
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17 Sep 2020 21:54 #354745 by Skryym
There are some really inspirational stories here! Eqin, I'm jealous you've got so much fencing experience. Was it by chance a Historical European Martial Arts chapter? I would love to do something like that but I've always lived in rural areas where I would have to travel 3+ hours to fence with someone.

Rugadd - what martial arts forms are most practical in true self defense situations? I've wanted to learn one in case I ever found myself in your situation - but I've heard some traditions are not really practical at all.

Verheilen, I've met a lot of people who struggled with weight at one end of the spectrum, but not both. I think that experience puts you in an awesome teaching position, especially because you already work in the industry.

--

I was a farm boy - so I had a very active lifestyle growing up and never bothered to play sports or have an actual workout program. In highschool, I had such terrible acne that I tried all sorts of crazy diets in order to cure it. This culminated in practicing paleo for over a year, in which I mostly ate meat and vegetables, a little fruit, and no bread. It worked wonders - for my skin, mental, and physical health. I am no longer a strict dieter, but I generally eat simple - mostly rice and vegetables with homegrown beef, pork, and eggs from my farm. Caffeine is an unfortunate side-effect of college. I tried to quit cold turkey once and had a headache for over 2 weeks. So my vice is a cup of black coffee every morning. My dieting goal is to have a completely local diet (everything I eat is produced within 50 miles).

I'm pretty average. Not too short, tall, wide, thin, wiry, or strong. I've always wondered how far I can push myself - and Jediism helped me push those limits. I try to focus on workouts that build skill (back and arm workouts from archery, full body workouts from hand stands, and cardio from dancing). Running is a form of meditation that I've grown to rely on, but I've developed some pretty serious hip pain in the last year. After running a mile on concrete, my left hip socket will hurt badly whenever I lift my leg. I can last longer on dirt trails (up to 2.5 miles) before pain starts. Which is a terrible bummer because I was hoping to get up to 8 miles.

I'm a reckless exerciser, and in addition to hip pain I almost always have a sore joint or bruise - which is why I want to prioritize future workouts with yoga, stretching, and setting safe limits that still allow me to become more fit.

There is no bad weather, only bad attitudes and bad attire. - Gandalf the Grey
TM: Loudzoo
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17 Sep 2020 22:18 #354746 by rugadd
Any martial art that includes a hefty amount of sparring and application would be fine. For someone who doesn't want to spend their life studying it, I always suggest 2 years of american boxing and 2 years of Jiu jitsu.( and when I say THAT I mean a minimum of 2 classes(2 hours each) a week as well as flexibility, cardio, and strength training on your own if they don't supply it) This doesn't mean I think they are the best over all, but they certainly lay down a good foundation to defend yourself with. Maintaining your health after the fact and reviewing what you learned should be a life long(or as long as you need the skill) habit.

You will find there is no system that is always practical in every situation. They all lean heavily on the amount of time your willing to put in to it, your situational awareness, and how well you can control your own body. Unfortunately(or fortunately) there are no short cuts. Building up your reaction speed, physical stamina, flexibility, and fight experience is necessary to make any fighting art effective.

If you are looking for a school, make sure they offer actual sparring. Many McDojos just want to sell some belts and a dance style. If they do not participate in tournaments this should be a flag that their teachings are not for actual use. These schools are fine for building confidence and discipline, but they will set you up to fail when you try to use it in the street. Ask questions about who taught them and who taught their teacher. A lineage is not absolute, but it can help weed out people who just made some stuff up and are selling it as legitimate. I suggest buying and owning all of your own equipment as well.

rugadd
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18 Sep 2020 04:00 #354750 by Eqin Ilis
Skryym, yeah I prefer HEMA because it's a practical approach. While swords aren't exactly common, knowing how to use one well still teaches proper striking, body positioning, distancing, and timing. I feel pretty confident with a stick in my hand, and longsword turns into grappling often enough that I have a decent amount of practice with that as well. I'm in no hurry to find out if my skills are good enough to be lifesaving, but it's been enough to avoid injury for the few scraps I've been a part of. (Scuffles with drunk folks, nothing serious. I've just been in the position to break up a few fights between partiers.)

With lockdown interrupting training in many of the areas that have HEMA, there have been a lot more videos and tutorials in the last year. If there's a specific weapon or style you want to learn I can try to help you find something that helps. A lot of us are missing sparring, too. So even without an opponent, there are plenty of skills you could finesse alone to prepare for any sparring opportunities you can find in the future.

I'll second what rugadd sad. The type of style is less important than the teacher and focus. Bonus points: If you're still interested in HEMA, most of us have some experience with other martial arts due to the difficulty in finding a fellow swordsman. It actually really helps the group grow and learn to have such various backgrounds in one room, and keeps the art form from becoming too rigid. So pursuing something that seems unrelated could actually help in your quest to learn swordwork. The important parts are all in the practical application.

When surrounded by war, one must eventually choose a side. - Defenders of Peace, Clone Wars Series
A child stolen is a hope lost. - Sphere of Influence, Clone Wars Series
Those who enforce the law must obey the law. - The Academy, Clone Wars Series
Love comes in all shapes and sizes. - Hunt for Ziro, Clone Wars Series
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18 Sep 2020 10:26 #354753 by Verheilen

Skryym wrote: Running is a form of meditation that I've grown to rely on, but I've developed some pretty serious hip pain in the last year. After running a mile on concrete, my left hip socket will hurt badly whenever I lift my leg. I can last longer on dirt trails (up to 2.5 miles) before pain starts. Which is a terrible bummer because I was hoping to get up to 8 miles.


I always loved the idea of being able to run for long distances. But being overweight for so long and being as tall as I am really limits me there. I took up biking several years ago and I get a similar feeling to the "runners high" from that, I love it! I can usually do about 16 miles in an hour, burns a ton of calories too. But I'm spoiled, I live near a river trail that runs from one end of town to the other. Keeps me off the roads and away from all the noise. Might also be a good alternative to running for you!

To live will be an awfully big adventure. - Peter Pan
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