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nicksta43 Dork
5/29/13 3:24 p.m.

After vacillating for a couple weeks on posting this here I've finally decided to bite the bullet and go ahead. It feels kind of awkward putting something so personal out there for everyone to see. I've seen many similar posts and read the responses with great interest . Unfortunately the time has come for me to admit that I am not perfect (something my wife has been trying to tell me for years)

What I need is a beginners guide to everything, LOL.

Specifically about health, nutrition and exercise.

Let me give you my current situation. I'm 34yo, 6' tall, 207lbs (according to the last set of scales I was on, not sure how accurate they were). Last doc visit about four months ago was 220lbs.

I've had some health issues over the last two years. Diagnosed with high blood pressure and prescribed some pills for cholesterol (which I've quit taking because I can never remember to take any pills). I've also been tested for various food allergies and due to my schedule (more on that in a bit) I have not completed the doc's testing procedure to verify if I really am allergic to these various foods; Corn, Oats, Oyster, Peanut, Green peas, Coconut, Mustard, Buckwheat, Lima Beans and Cinnamon. All of which I was rated at least a 3 out of 5 meaning I am likely to be allergic. So for the time being I have just eliminated all those from my diet tot he best of my ability.

I've tried to do my part of the follow up testing he wants me to do but it's very hard for me to do. My schedule is never the same. I leave the house at 6 a.m. and never know when I'm going to be home. I may be able to eat lunch or I may not. Usually something from a gas station. Sometimes I get home around six or seven and can kinda plan my dinner/meals for the next day. But frequently I don't get home until around eleven or twelve and usually just eat a bowl of cereal or something equally easy to make. We go shopping bi-weekly because we get paid by-weekly.

What I would like to do is start eating nutritiously. You know, like real foods. But I have no idea where or how to start. There are so many different ideas out there and all the information is just going over my head. Ideally I would like to go to the store every evening and get fresh foods for the next day. But my schedule eliminates that possibility.

Another issue is exercise, or lack thereof. I have never worked out a day in my life and have no clue how to get started. Again it goes back to my unpredictable schedule. Three times this year I've told myself I'm going to get up a little earlier and walk or jog or just do some situps or pushups in the morning and every time I tell myself that I end up working until ten or eleven that night and barely get up for work on time. I have a pretty physically active and demanding job so the evenings are out because I'm usually exhausted.

Anyway this is nowhere near all I wanted to say but in the interest of not writing a novel I'll sum it up; I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired but have no idea where to start.

Any advice on books, videos or websites I should be paying attention to?

jonnyd330 Reader
5/29/13 3:31 p.m.

This is a funny and great site. The food is really tasty even though its healthy and the guy makes you laugh.


ransom UltraDork
5/29/13 3:36 p.m.

In reply to jonnyd330:

I haven't even finished the first page and I did already, literally, laugh out loud.

sachilles SuperDork
5/29/13 3:37 p.m.

Baby steps. Need not turn yourself into an episode of some weight loss get healthy show

Start simple. Go buy a small lunch cooler. Pack it at night before you go to bed. You don't need to go crazy with twigs and berries. Just shop for a bunch of stuff you know you'll enjoy. So long as they were never deep fried, you are probably ahead of the game. Make an effort to just not buy your lunch at lunch time. If you can make a bunch in containers filled with lunch stuff once a week, you can just grab and go.

6 ft and 207 isn't anything crazy, so I don't think you need to hit the gym all the time. Just take the stairs, rather than an elevator/escalator. Park in the back of a parking lot instead of finding the spot next to the door.

When those are habits, you can get more extreme.

Apexcarver PowerDork
5/29/13 3:37 p.m.

Cut down on unhealthy foods (you know what they are, especially red meat if you haven't already), including gas station foods.

Daily shopping is not needed, weekly or bi-weekly works fine for me.

Produce. Start eating more fresh vegtables. Steam them. Look around for deals, usually if you look hard enough you can find some. (farmers markets, etc.. I get mine from an ethnic shop that I found sold produce for a fraction of the big boxes prices, research some.)

I eat a lot of rice, why? because its cheap and convienient. Get a rice cooker. Start experimenting with throwing some vegtables in with the rice, onions do a lot, carrots, beans, etc. With the rice cooker, I throw it in and 15 min later theres dinner.

Start packing your lunch. Gonna save you money, seriously. Just do it the night before and get a bag and cold pack. Plus, it will tend to be healthier. Bonus is that eating will take less time without having to shop.

We tend to eat more calories than we really need to, especially we can tend to eat a lot of meat.

Beer Baron
Beer Baron UltimaDork
5/29/13 3:42 p.m.

Fresh fruits. Fill a bag with you to bring bananas, apples, oranges, grapes. Other foods like that you'd enjoy. Things that won't spoil sitting in a car for a while. Eat snacks. Pre-packaged baby carrots are good too, and maybe they won't got two days without refrigeration, but they'll got 12 hours.

I'd say granola bars or nut bars in there... but given the oat and nut allergies, nope.

I'd seriously just pack yourself a "plowman's" lunch every day: tasty whole-grain bread (bakery style, not shelf loaf), wedge of good cheese, fresh fruits, and a small serving of cured meat (turkey salami).

Find exercise that doesn't feel like exercise. I always recommend dancing. Take some hip hop classes or something and practice footwork for five minutes when you're bored at a rest stop. Or maybe take up Tai Chi. No, it's not all slow wussy movements for old people. That's Chi Gong, which isn't quite the same.

If your job is that physically demanding, you probably don't need to add extra exercise. Just figure out how to eat real food on a regular schedule, and relieve some stress on the job.

mazdeuce Dork
5/29/13 3:47 p.m.

Make a dinner menu for the two weeks. Buy the ingredients for those dinners. Fresh veggies and meats for the beginning of the first week, moving to frozen veggies and meats for the second. When the menu says chicken Alfredo on Wednesday, you have the ingredients, so make it. Wake up 20 minutes earlier and eat breakfast and pack a lunch. Don't eat food accidentally. You know you're going to eat three times today, plan for it and do it. It helps a LOT when your spouse is on board so it's a team effort. I've got about a dozen really quick recipes if you need them.

ncjay HalfDork
5/29/13 3:50 p.m.

I used to drive a tractor trailer for a living so I know about eating out of gas stations. Step #1 - STOP eating out of gas stations!! Food is usually crap and way over priced (like you didn't already know). Don't know about your area but usually where there's a gas station, there's a grocery store. The deli area has decent food with a healthier selection. I kept a small cooler with me and filled it with healthy stuff like apples or grapes instead of cookies and chips. If you're job is that physically demanding, it sounds like you're already getting the exercise you need. Another switch I made was instead of McDonalds or Wendy's, I'd go to Subway or something similar. More lettuce and tomatoes instead of melted cheese and french fries.

calteg Reader
5/29/13 3:52 p.m.

People tend to make these sorts of things way more complicated than they need to be.

Nutrition: Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. This means fruits, veggies, proteins (preferably chicken or fish), and grains. If it's in a box or a can, you probably don't want it. Time crunched people tend to find that the steamable bags of frozen veggies are really convenient and easy to eat.

Don't drink your calories. Drinks rarely provide real nutrition. You can lose 2lbs+ per month just by cutting out soda completely.

Working out: Find something active that you enjoy doing, then dedicate time to do it. If you're serious about being active in the long term, this is one of the few ways to set yourself up for real success.

What are your goals? You said you "want to get healthy", which kind of implies weight loss, but you didn't actually say that. Lose 20lbs?

Run a 10K?

Bench 225?

Set concrete goals, then set daily or weekly sub goals.

Most long term failures i've seen are attributable to 3 things: Vague Goal Setting (with no achievable sub-goals)

Too much, too soon (I'm gonna do this hardcore diet AND P90x)

Lack of motivation (because you're committing to a workout that you despise)

oldtin UltraDork
5/29/13 3:53 p.m.

At our hospital, the nutritionists work with patients who've had a life time of poor habits - one of the first things they work on are some basics - like shopping. Their advice - shop the perimeter of grocery stores. That's where the fresh stuff is. The middle is where all the processed stuff is. Limit red meat to 1-2x/wk and when you load up a plate - think of a paper plates with 3 sections - 1 big one, 2 smaller ones. Rethink what goes in the sections - veggies in the big section, meat in a smaller section, fruit also in a smaller section. Several smaller meals throughout the day is better than one big meal. Weight loss is simple math. Use more calories than you take in. Your body and brain will probably put up a fight with you on this.

FranktheTank Reader
5/29/13 3:54 p.m.

A turkey sandwich on wheat bread (or low carb wrap) with plenty of lettuce and tomato would go a long ways to not eating gas station food for lunch. I pack my lunch about everyday.

Exercising... My mom has a treadmill in front of her TV and no chairs in the room (except her husbands because he declined on two treadmills) silly/simple but effective.

4cylndrfury MegaDork
5/29/13 4:08 p.m.

I went thru the same thing pretty recently. Im 33 as of last week, 6,1", and at the begining of 2013, was topping 260 lbs. Doctors visit confirmed I had elevated cholesterol, and blood pressure at the highest limits of the "normal" range.

In my teens and early twenties, I rode BMX like it was going out of style (which, coincidentally, it was lol). I was a trim 195 lbs with a six pack stomach and thighs like tree trunks...the picture of fitness. Then Marriage and slower metabolism kicked in, while my eating habits remained the same (imagine a hungry horse, and youd have a good picture of how much I ate).

Essentially, it was past time to make some changes. I wanted to get my cholesterol under control, and get under 250 (and keep dropping).

So, what did I change? Simple stuff ...

  • Drink waaay more water. This is better in the long run. Sodas have several spoonfuls of sugar...no bueno. Also, drinking more water, several times a day, will cause you to get up out of your chair several times a day to pee. This simple addition of activity throughout your day, every day, will actually make a difference. over time

  • Like mentioned before,pack your own lunch. A simple lunchmeat sammich and an apple or a banana, or maybe leftover pizza and chips. I use a softside insulated lunchbag and a freezer pack/blue ice/whatever you call it. Makes it easy, allows me to avoid spending a bunch on crap fried garbage at the corner store/McDonalds etc.

  • I snack healthy, with lean protein. Protein fills you up, and promotes higher metabolism. I choose lowfat yogurt. Its grab-n-go easy, and tasty. I also pack 2 or 3 little baggies of tuna and avocado on the weekend and leave em in the fridge. A can of tuna and a half an avocado cubed up, dumped into a bag with a teaspoon of mustard or mayo will really make a great snack, and prebagged snacks are grab-n-go as well. Either yogurt, or tuna goes into my lunch bag each morning. It keeps me from buying chips from the vending machine or a hotdog from the gas station in the afternoon.

  • I do 20 pushups, 40 situps, and 5 minutes of jump rope before I get into the shower every day, and again right before bed mon-tues, and thurs-fri. Im religious about this. Sometimes I toss in some dumbell work to switch it up. Ive been doing this for about 3 months now, and results are visible. My arms, chest, shoulders, and stomach are more defined, and I feel better - healthier, and have more energy. I dont get winded going up the stairs at work, and I sleep better as well. Ive lost 15 lbs since February, and have no intention on stopping there.

These 4 things took some diligence at first, but now are second nature. I know I am saving some money, and like I said, I feel better too. None alone were too terribly difficult. Like sachilles said, maybe make one or two changes, and keep at them till they become habits, then make a few more changes. Just take small steps, and see where they take you.

nicksta43 Dork
5/29/13 4:32 p.m.
calteg wrote: What are your goals? You said you "want to get healthy", which kind of implies weight loss, but you didn't actually say that. Lose 20lbs?

Basically I feel like crap. I have no energy at all and I know if I don't make any changes it's going to get worse. Yesterday I got back from vacation and while there we went to the beach a couple times. One day at the beach my sister in-laws boyfriend and I began throwing the Frisbee. After about ten minutes I was spent. Completely out of breath. Not too long ago I could throw the Frisbee for hours, I had a couple buddies and we would have three going at the same time. Run as hard as you can catch and throw as fast we could, rapid fire Frisbee.

Weight is really not the point, healthy is. I was 195lbs forever and felt good at that weight so I guess I wouldn't mind getting back to that.

Beer Baron
Beer Baron UltimaDork
5/29/13 4:35 p.m.

Start by eating real food on a regular schedule. No more of this 12 hours without meals, and if I do get them they're from a gas station crap.

See how you feel in a month.

nicksta43 Dork
5/29/13 4:36 p.m.
mazdeuce wrote: Make a dinner menu for the two weeks. Buy the ingredients for those dinners. Fresh veggies and meats for the beginning of the first week, moving to frozen veggies and meats for the second. When the menu says chicken Alfredo on Wednesday, you have the ingredients, so make it. Wake up 20 minutes earlier and eat breakfast and pack a lunch. Don't eat food accidentally. You know you're going to eat three times today, plan for it and do it. It helps a LOT when your spouse is on board so it's a team effort. I've got about a dozen really quick recipes if you need them.

I would have to make all the food on the weekend. It's simply not going to happen during the week. Hmm, we did get a food-saver vacuum thing for Christmas.

crankwalk Reader
5/29/13 4:41 p.m.
ransom wrote: In reply to jonnyd330: I haven't even finished the first page and I did already, literally, laugh out loud.

LOL me too

Appleseed UltimaDork
5/29/13 4:42 p.m.

I am watching this with keen interest. I'm in Nicksta's position.

fanfoy Reader
5/29/13 4:50 p.m.

Did you change your work or living habits in recent years?

Couple of years ago, I used to work alot on my feet, then I started to be more and more in the office. Doing a lot of office work is killer on health. It's bad for your posture, you don't burn any calories and you snack all the time.

I had to adapt my life to those changes, and let me tell you, it's hard. Started Tai-Chi to help with my posture, and discovered a passion. I teach it now.

Since you are still young, you can be healthy and have a little extra weight. I'm in the same boat as you. I could probably loose 20lb. But I have great cardio, so I'm not too worried. I just like sweets too much but the rest of my diet is excellent (I have to thank my wife for that).

You mentioned frisbee. Why did you stop playing? I tried to go to the gym for a while to get in shape, but I couldn't see the point. Instead, I rekindle my love of cycling. Even built myself a recumbent tadpole trike. Find something you like doing, and healthy will just follow naturally.

Last thing, since you are in your early 30s, you could check if you are having testosterone imbalance. Happens a lot to guys in their early 30s. I'm pretty sure I had that (although I never tested), and it can be remedied pretty easily with your diet.

It's great you want to better yourself.

nicksta43 Dork
5/29/13 5:00 p.m.

In reply to fanfoy:

My knees. My knees are shot. I made a thread about it a couple weeks ago. Same reason I sold my bicycle. I am doing less of the actual physical work anymore and at this point I'm more just teaching and supervising. Still nothing like being stuck in an office all day.

conesare2seconds Reader
5/29/13 5:05 p.m.

As others have said, pack your lunch. A sandwich on grain bread with mustard instead of mayo, lean ham (worth the upgrade) or roast beef, a slice of swiss, and a large apple is a filling lunch that won't make you feel like you skimped on food or are on a diet. Only takes 2 minutes to prep and you can skip the lettuce and tomato to keep the bread from getting soggy. Stay out of the convenience stores and gas stations as much as you can, snack food is ok once in a while but will kill your waist over time.

Datsun310Guy UberDork
5/29/13 5:30 p.m.

I made some changes to my diet recently. I juice 3-4# of carrots a day (32+ ounces). I stopped the giant Costco cheese bagel and switched it to a bowl of oatmeal (available at McDonalds).

I carry apples and bananas all the time. You can easily run into a grocery store and buy 1 apple and 2 bananas as I travel for work too. McDonald's $1 side salads are pretty good - buy a couple.

I made a basic turkey sandwich today on wheat with lettuce, a handful of chips, finished up with an apple. Don't eat chips from the bag - you end up over eating.

I made Aldi's my first choice of where to stock up on fruit and veggies. I just struggle getting past the chip department (walk fast).

Drink a lot of water - 1 cup of coffee - no soda.

fanfoy Reader
5/29/13 5:44 p.m.

In reply to nicksta43:

If your knees are hurt, it's usually posture related unless you were seriously injured. How are you feet aligned? If you have toe-out, your knees will hurt. And before long, your lower back as well. It's a very common problem because of our life habits. I used to suffer from this too. Took me two years to get rid of the pain. My wife is an osteo, and she says about 90% of the people she treats have this problem.

Martial arts in general are pretty good for your posture. But you have to keep at it. It's not instantaneous. Yoga too is good, but I didn't see myself standing upside down on my head.

If you stopped cycling, and frisbee, and you don't work as physical anymore, there is the reason of your lack of health. It really is the small things.

nicksta43 Dork
5/29/13 5:53 p.m.

In reply to fanfoy:

Torn meniscus, ortho said he could scope it but couldn't promise he could fix them. Said he could shoot 'em up every six months but so far I've just been living with it. I am intrigued about martial arts however the whole scheduling thing comes back into play. I can't make any regular classes because I never know if I'll be off work.

Jerry HalfDork
5/29/13 6:42 p.m.

I've done baby steps. Dropped the Monster energy every day to a Monster coffee drink to regular coffee. Switched Snicker bars to Cliff Bar's (and I think they taste better too). Stopped getting generic crap at Dollar General for lunches & pay the extra buck for a healthy can of soup with much less crap ingredients.

I've really started reading labels lately. A simple meat and potato microwave meal should not have a huge ingredient list full of chemical names. My fiancee has been a big help/push, she wants to keep me around as long as possible. I drink a glass of milk every morning, and eat a banana at work shortly after I get there. We started getting organic and local grown stuff from GreenBean Delivery here and it's amazing (the bacon alone OMG). Also "happy cow" milk with no extra hormones or crap.

We've watched some interesting documentaries on Netflix Instant. "Fat, sick and nearly dead" readily comes to mind. Link

Streetwiseguy UltraDork
5/29/13 6:52 p.m.

Rule #1- don't eat beige food.

Think about it...

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