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A Newbs Journey into Fitness

Recently, I decided to go on a little health kick and get into better shape. Growing up, I was always into sports, playing all of them through high school.  After that I didn’t really do much. I was never a chunky kid, but never ripped either. Fast forward to adulthood: I wasn’t very active and I love to eat, and I mean a lot. Most people who know me pass their plate to me once they are done, as I was dubbed the “human garbage disposal”. I didn’t really watch what I ate, and most of it was completely unhealthy. I know I could have been a lot bigger than I was, but according to the Body Mass Index (BMI) charts I was “obese”. I wouldn’t say I was that big, but I wasn’t exactly skinny – certainly not fit – and it was time for a change.

I have wanted to get in shape for a while, but really didn’t put forth the effort until recently. Things just kind of lined up for me this time around, I’m pleased to say. I finally decided to go forward with my new fitness journey and started to get slightly better. Oddly enough, with the release of Pokémon Go, I started playing to simply help me get moving around more. Now wait, before you go on about that game, I have always been a fan of Pokémon since the start so it wasn’t a “jump on the band wagon” type impulse for me. It just happened to come out when I made my decision to turn my health around.

Shortly after that I had a visit to my heart doctor, which he suggested that I do more exercise, so that was another nudge for me to do more. At the same time a new gym was being built at the food court where I work, so I signed up. Like I previously stated, everything lined up for me to give it a good go this time.  Let’s go into further detail on what I did since then, because hey – it’s working for me.

Diet

healthy-snack

At first, I just started to eat out less and cut out as much “bad” food, or what I thought was bad out of my diet. I also started using an app called MyFitnessPal to track what I ate and started watching my calorie intake. I have used this app before with success, so I decided to give it a go again. After that I stepped it up and cut out a lot more following the Paleo diet.

The Paleo Diet is a diet based on the types of foods that we think earlier humans ate, which excludes dairy, grain products, and processed foods. I didn’t follow it exactly, I did try to stick to it as much as possible, but a few days out of the week I may have some things that didn’t fit under the diet like yogurt or bread. I usually try to stick with healthier whole wheat or other choices for bread. I also eased my way into the diet, with each week getting stricter, but for my once a week cheat meal, all bets are off.

Last month I took another step forward with my diet, I started to focus on reducing the amount of sugar and sodium in my diet. Most of the sugar I consume now is from fruits and veggies, and that’s about it. Cutting out the sodium means no more pre-package foods and the “healthy” choices from restaurants as they contain lots of sodium.

Shakes and Supplements

shakes

Since I have a heart condition (which I will expand on at a later date, perhaps), and really can’t have caffeine, that took out most supplements I could take (many contain caffeine and other stimulants). My wife is using the Herbalife products, so with that I have been taking some of the shakes along with their protein as meal replacements, mostly for breakfast on days I don’t have time. I am also taking some protein shakes from CDT Sports before or after my workouts at the gym during my lunch break. I have tried two of the three flavors they have out, and both are good. These shakes have similar flavors to some popular cereals.

Workout

My new lunch room, the fitness center.
My new lunch room, the fitness center.

In the beginning, I just increased my walking from less than 5,000 steps a day to over 10,000 while just playing Pokémon Go. Once the gym opened up, I cranked it up a notch to over 20,000 steps using my Fitbit Charge HR as my counter. Now before I go any further, yes I know the walk or any device will not give me an accurate count, just like the calories tracking I am doing isn’t 100% either. It is a great estimate which I can keep track with. My routine for majority of the past 3 months is weekdays I work out during my lunch break for about 45 minutes with each day focusing on a different part of the body. In the evening after dinner I ride my bike about 3 miles one way to a nearby park, which I then walk and jog for about 2.5 hours to get my step count over 20,000. The weekends are my days off, previously I would still try to hit 7,000 steps but I didn’t always make that. This month I plan to step it up to at least 10k for the weekends.

Apps

I have already listed a few of the apps that I have been using to track my progress with, but now I will go into further details.

  • Pokémon Go – I am pretty sure most of you have heard of this one by now. Pokémon Go is an interactive augmented reality app which aims to get you outside and exploring to capture the pocket monsters in the real world. Hatching eggs you find requires a certain amount of distant travels based on that egg, and now you can partner up with one of your Pokémon so they can earn candies to power up as you move. This helps me pass the time as I walk, jog, or ride my bike for miles.
  • MyFitnessPal – I used this app and website to track what I eat and see the nutrition values of all of it. You can set up your account based on your height, weight, and your goal which then it will suggest how many calories you should be taking in. It’s also cool that you can scan in most food barcodes to enter your meals. If you have a recipe you are using, you can import that in as well. The app also has its own social network, blog with tips, and other features but I mostly use it for tracking food nutrition and the progress charts.
  • Fitbit – Paired with my Fitbit Charge HR, I used the app to see my step count, my heart rate, and my sleep schedule. Lately I have been doing some challenges with friends and family to see who can get the most steps which gives an extra incentive to get walking and win. I plan to upgrade my watch so I am not sure if there will be more features I will use from the app. Pair it with the Fitbit Aria, I track my weight and body-fat percentage. MyFitnessPal also syncs with Fitbit it get my calories burned from walking as well as push my intake into Fitbit dashboards.
  • Endomondo – How did I know I ride my bike for about 3 miles, well with this app. Endomono is a sport tracking app which I use to track my speed, distance, and calories burned from my bike rides. Great thing is it syncs with MyFitnesspal.
  • JEFIT – This one took some digging to find when I first starting lifting weights. I downloaded and tried a few different ones and this is the one I chose. The reason is I could set up a routine of what exercises I will do each day, and keep track of how many reps and set I did for each. In the beginning, I would forget how many reps I was doing towards the end. Was I doing 10 reps on this routine, or 15? With JEFIT it would keep track of what I entered and give me a timer between each set. There’s also fitness routines built in it you do not know what you want to do, but I set up a custom one based on what I wanted to grow.

I have been drinking a lot of more water since I first started, but I have heard I should be drinking a gallon of water a day. I am not quite there yet, but usually more than half is what I am currently at. I could improve my sleeping habits, but right now with my work schedule and routine, I try to squeeze in some work in the evenings instead of getting 8 hours of sleep.

To lose weight you want to reduce your calorie intake, but you shouldn’t go lower than 1200 calories a day. If you are doing a lot of cardio, you can eat more if you are hungry.

August - September - October fitness progress
August – September – October fitness progress

Conclusion

In the beginning, I had a goal weight of 170 lbs. set which was in range of healthy or optimal for my BMI. Now I am less focused on the actual number but more on my body fat percentage which I want to be around 10-12%. I am aiming to get an athletic fit body type.
I am in no way an expert, but I wanted to share what I was doing since I have been receiving a few messages asking. If you have any tips, please share them.

Alex Ventura
I grew up around american muscle working on cars with my dad, but by the time they were ready to get me a car, they wanted something reliable and good on gas. Picked up my first civic and started modded years back which introduced to the import scene. I still have a soft spot for some old school american muscle.
http://photos.adventworks.net

One thought on “A Newbs Journey into Fitness

  1. Alex, I am so proud of you. In everything that you are doing in your life. You are a role model for so many of us. Let’s not forget how talented you are! I’m also very impressed with your writing. As a Language Arts teacher, I love the flow of your words and your descriptions. Keep up all of the hard work, and I’m so proud to call you my nephew. I love you! The best is yet to come!

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