Tag Archives: exercise

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This is the latest installment in the About Men Radio Fitness Challenge in which members of the AMR posse have pledged to eat better and adopt a healthier lifestyle in order to lose weight. Chris Mele has this update:

My moment of truth arrives on Monday.

I go back to see the doctor, who when I last visited, said she wanted me to drop 15 pounds.

So after doubling down on my workouts for the past two months (after being sidelined with an illness for a month), after cranking up the intensity of my exercise, curbing my sugar intake and tracking my calories with an online app, I stepped on the scale today and…

I GAINED two pounds.

To borrow a line from “Blazing Saddles”: “What in the Wide World of Sports is going on here?!”

I mean, c’mon!

I have extended my workouts to nearly an hour and six days a week.

I really have tried to keep track of my food, entering the calories on the conservative side and being honest about my unhealthy snacking, namely the Frisbee-sized cookies I get from the Jefferson Diner in New Jersey.

But there was the readout on the scale, unblinking: 203.7.

Of course, when I get to the doctor, her scale will say something worse because it always does.

I was aiming to lose 15 and gained two.

Once upon a time, 15 years ago, I dropped 40 pounds but I did it by eating scant calories (mostly carbs) and doing only industrial-strength cardio (cardio videos, running, biking, etc.)

The result though was I looked bony and unhealthy. Plus I was cold all the time.

I’ve been doing a bit more weight lifting and taking in more protein.

I do have to say I feel like I’m filling out a little bit (and not in a paunchy in the poochy kind of way either).

My wife says I have dents in my torso (I guess to match the ones in my head!) and my clothes do feel like they fit better.

So I guess I am doing something right.

Maybe weight is not the final arbiter of whether you’re healthy.

In this case, I feel like the doctor has put her thumb on the scale and made me more concerned with hitting a number than with how I’m doing overall.

Will see what she says on Monday.

Related blog posts:

Going Old School to Get Into Shape

Battle of the Bulge: The Struggle to Eat Right and Exercise

 

Can My Doctor Just STFU About My BMI Please?

 

 

 

Going Old School to Get Into Shape

With the encouragement of my childhood friends who make up the About Men Radio crew, I’ve decided to fully embrace the AMR Fitness Challenge.

It’s not that I haven’t tried to eat right and exercise.

I’ve been working out consistently for nearly 15 years but I would say in the past two or so, I’ve slowed down.

Instead of working out for 45 or 50 minutes a day for six days a week, I started to do 30 minutes of exercise four days a week.

And with a desk job and being in the car four hours a day, that made a difference.

My doctor recently told me she wanted me to lose 15 pounds because my body mass index was too high.

So I am using the Fitness Challenge to get back to my old better habits.

After a July filled with travel, vacations and plenty of eating and drinking (and being sidelined with a medical issue for five weeks), I’ve started August off right.

I’m going old school with my workouts — relying on tried-and-true routines, such as circuits with weights and a Crunch Cardio Boot Camp DVD that has always served me well.

DVD

Now, here is the absolutely crazy thing: The harder I’ve pushed myself by extending my workouts, the better I feel, the more energy I have, especially at night when I’m working, and the better I sleep.

When I was only working out 30 minutes a day, I did not get those benefits.

I’ve also taken up MyFitnessPal.com to help me keep track of what I’m eating. It’s really simple math: You need to burn more calories than you take in.

When I was working out 30 minutes a day, I was just drawing even with my intake or eating more than I was burning.

I’ve tried a couple of different strategies: Eating more protein. Skipping sugar with my coffee. Eating more celery, carrots and peppers as snacks, sometimes with hummus.

I’ve signed up to run in a Warrior Dash in three weeks, so there’s more than the usual motivation to get going!

I’ll keep you posted…

If you want to share your tips and ideas — or to send words of encouragement — post on our Facebook page or write us at amr@aboutmenshow.com.
Related links:

No More Excuses, It’s Time to Get Healthy

Longtime listeners of the podcast know that getting the entire AMR Posse to reach a consensus on anything is quite the achievement so this episode may come as a shock.

Father John, Coach Silvio, SuperDad, Mele Mel along with yours truly, El Kaiser, have unanimously agreed that getting healthy should be our top priority for the rest of the year.

The ravages of middle-age and busy lives have taken their toll but to paraphrase the manliest-man of all, our lord and savior Popeye:

We can’t stands no more!

The challenge to get into shape by 2017 has officially been thrown down and we will document our progress—or lack thereof—with regular posts on the blog at aboutmenradio.com.

Take a listen to what is motivating us and please send us your tips on how best to reach our goals or, better yet, join us in our quest for health.

It won’t be easy but you know the journey will be snarky good fun.

Read more blog posts at www.aboutmenradio.com and at http://aboutmenradio.net

Like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AboutMenRadio and follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/aboutmenradio

Have a question or a comment? Write us at amr@aboutmenshow.com

Talking Men’s Health

In this latest episode of About Men Radio shenanigans, Pedro and Chris talk about men’s health —  no, not the magazine —  but what it takes for men our age to be of sound bodies. (Forget about our minds, those are shot!)

Partly the discussion was spurred on by recent medical procedures we both endured (read: colonoscopies) and the order by Chris’s doctor to drop 15 pounds.

That, in turn, led to a conversation about…well, never mind. Just give it all a listen and then tell your friends about it.

The AMR crew will soon have a big announcement about a project we’re working on, so you will have to stay tuned for future episodes!

Getting a Little Bit Fit With My FitBit

I got a FitBit for Father’s Day, so I am hoping to get a bit fit.

For the six of you who have not heard of this electronic geegaw, it is the latest example of better living through technology.

It straps to your wrist, and like a watch, it will display the time, but it also tracks your heart rate, number of steps you take, stairs you climb, calories burned and miles walked.

My younger son was so in love with his FitBit and I was equally impressed, so I asked for one for Father’s Day.

What I have found so far is that as a middle-aged guy, it is yet another way for me to discover how I don’t measure up.

Fitness experts recommend you walk at least 10,000 steps a day. If I break about 6,000, that is a good day.

fitbit 1
My first time breaking 10,000 steps! Hurray!

As someone who spends four-plus hours in the car five days a week, getting to that goal would be a challenge, unless of course I drove a Fred Flintstone-type car where you pedal furiously with your feet to get started.

But I am finding that I am making adjustments in light of the FitBit. For instance, today I walked an extra block out of my way just so I could rack up extra steps toward my total.

I also make it a point to take the stairs instead of an escalator when I have the option. With its attractive graphics, FitBit gives me encouragement for climbing more flights of stairs.

The one feature I am fascinated with — and at the same time a bit creeped out by — is the one that tells me how much I have slept.

FitBit is like Santa Claus that way: It knows when you are sleeping. If it starts telling me whether I have been naughty or nice, it’s coming off my wrist.

I have also been using an app called MyFitnessPal in which you track what you are eating, total calories consumed and your exercise.

You set a weight loss goal and it gives you an ideal daily caloric intake based on your height, weight and time you have set to lose the weight.

You enter your food and it keeps diligent track of your progress.

This too has been unnerving and eye-opening.

You mean my medium hot Dunkin’ Donuts coffee with milk and sugar is 112 calories?

Fine.

Out goes the sugar. Milk only from now on with my coffee. A net savings of 77 calories. I feel thinner already.

What I have discovered is that calories are a lot like time and money: Once you have consumed them, there is no getting them back so it is important to be judicious

FitBit and MyFitnessPal are merely tools to help keep me on track toward a healthy, balanced me. Of course, they are no substitute for sensible eating, exercise and a good night’s sleep.

But if FitBit wanted to be really helpful, it could give me a low dose of electric current, like a cattle prod, every time I reach for a cookie.

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Related links:

Battle of the Bulge: The Struggle to Eat Right and Exercise

About Exercise: Never Too Old To Bring It

A New Me

Celebrating 14 Years of My ‘Exercise Sobriety’

 

A New Me

A refrain in “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from “The Wizard of Oz” has Judy Garland singing wistfully: “Why, oh why can’t I?”

It is something that I hear in my own head (minus the singing) when I confront self-image issues related to my workouts.

For the past 14 years, I have been a dedicated exerciser, working out an average of four to five times a week.

It has taken all forms: Cardio, running, weight-lifting, circuit training, and for the past seven years, a devotion to the various P90X workouts led by Tony Horton.

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But it seems no matter how much dedication and drive I invest in my exercise, I cannot get the body I’m looking for.

So, why oh why can’t I have a broad chest?

Ripped abs?

Biceps the size of my thighs?

image

When I look at celebrities like Hugh Jackman, who plays Wolverine in the X-Men series, or Daniel Craig, who is currently playing James Bond, or Bradley Cooper in “American Sniper,” I am immediately plunged into a vat of molten envy that, when it cools, hardens around my brain.

I mean, look at those guys!

They are in incredible shape.

daniel craig jackman

It’s not like I have not put in the time and commitment to getting fit, so why oh why can’t I look like them?

Well, there might be the fact that they have professional trainers who put these actors through their paces for grueling hours a day whereas my exercise routine is a DIY system at home for 30 to 45 minutes.

And they likely have gourmet-cooked, high-protein, nutrient-rich meals prepared for them around the clock, with snacks properly proportioned served to them by personal chefs.

Me? I eat as cleanly as I can but I am a slave to cookies and prone to indulging in sugary snacks when I’m anxious.

Nonetheless, I fight the nagging internal voice that says I am not pushing myself hard enough.

See that woman in the exercise video? She’s doing more push-ups than you, you panty-waist wuss!

As a working stiff who has a family and a job, there is only so much time and energy I can dedicate to exercising before I overtrain and risk getting hurt or burning myself out.

It was not until I heard Tony Horton’s first law of fitness that I started to gain some acceptance for my limitations.

“Do your best and forget the rest,” he says.

In other words, show up and do what you can on any given day.

That could be four push-ups or 40, or a multiple of that if you’ve really got something in the tank that day.

But you’ve got to chase away those mental couldas and shouldas that get in the way.

This is the time of year when we’re all looking to start the slate clean: A new year, a new you, right?

Before you start worrying about fixing your body, think about getting your mind right first.

So in 2016, I’m going to change my tune and find a new anthem.

Read more blog posts at www.aboutmenradio.com and at http://aboutmenradio.net

Like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AboutMenRadio and follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/aboutmenradio

Have a question or a comment? Write us at amr@aboutmenshow.com

 

Celebrating 14 Years of My ‘Exercise Sobriety’

Today marks my birthday but more important than that, it is year 14 of my “exercise sobriety.”

At About Men Radio, we’ve touched on health, fitness, exercise and eating right in any number of podcasts and blog posts.

Pedro and I talked about our exercise routines and eating right in podcasts here and here.

And I discussed my training for the Warrior Dash extreme race. (Unfortunately my work schedule kept me from competing but there is always next year!)

I also recounted my excitement about meeting and working out with exercise guru and man crush Tony Horton and explained how it’s never too late to burn off the goo.

Getting the right amount of rest, eating as close to healthy as you can and exercising take on a whole new level of importance when you reach, ahem, a certain age.

I know I’ve told this story before, but I want to repeat here today, partly to reinforce the lesson to myself after 14 years, but also to tell my brethren (and sistren) that it is NEVER too late to get started.

I was 37, woefully out of shape, stressed to the max and eating like a maniac.

My routine was a doughnut and coffee at 3 p.m., which would send my sugar levels spiking and then crashing, taking my energy levels with it.

Late nights featured chocolate dipped in peanut butter with a Kahlua-and-milk chaser, topped off with maybe five or six hours of sleep each night.

Rinse and repeat.

My fiancée at the time bought me a pair of push-up bars, a VHS exercise tape and a sit-up bar. They sat off in the corner for many, many months.

She never nagged me or even said a word about the equipment but I knew they were there.

My epiphany came after a dinner of three (or was it four?) slices of pizza followed by truly yummy Italian pastries from one of the local bakeries.

I am still not sure what happened, but something clicked (or snapped) and on my 37th birthday, I popped in the boot camp exercise VHS tape.

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I had to quit after about 15 minutes.

I was winded and frustrated that I could not keep up. But I tried it the next day. And the next and the next and the next.

By the end of the week, I was getting through the entire 30-minute video.

Over time, I began biking, lifting weights, running and doing other forms of cardio. I dropped 40 pounds, about half of which, over time, I’ve put back on.

But that does not discourage me.

For about the last seven years, I’ve been doing P90x workouts with my man Tony Horton. He’s a good coach and I find him inspiring.

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Do I fall short of my goals? Hell yes. Am I ready to grace the cover of “Men’s Health” magazine? Hell no!

But I’m averaging four to five days a week of exercise, and I keep just showing up and that’s more than half the battle.

If you’re looking to make changes in your life, start with small steps.

You will be amazed at the strides you will make.

Take it from someone who’s been there.

If I can do it, so can you.

Drop me a line at amr@aboutmenradio.com and tell me about how you’re coping. We can swap ideas and give a little support to each other.

Read more blog posts at www.aboutmenradio.com and at http://aboutmenradio.net

Like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AboutMenRadio and follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/aboutmenradio

Have a question or a comment? Write us at amr@aboutmenshow.com

 

 

 

Battle of the Bulge: The Struggle to Eat Right and Exercise

Every man has had a battle of the bulge.

No, not THAT bulge, you perv! Get your mind outta the gutter!

I’m talking about the bulge ABOVE your belt.

The spare tire.

The love handles.

The beer gut.

Whatever you call it, by the time a guy reaches middle age, his metabolism isn’t what it used to be.

Take me, for instance.

I watch what my teenage son eats at home and I am positively aghast at what he inhales. And when his older brother was home, his butt was constantly sticking out of the fridge, his muffled voice crying out that there was nothing to eat.

But then I recall what I used to eat and drink when I was a teenager.

Back in the day, it was nothing for me to chug almost an entire 64-ounce bottle of Coke.

My food pyramid looked more like a pie chart, with the emphasis on “pie.”

Pizza. McDonald’s. Hot dogs. Fudge brownies.

And Friendly’s ice cream. Those Reese’s peanut butter cup sundaes that come in a goblet big enough to fit both of your fists? Oh yeah, that was my go-to dessert when I was in college.

Through my early to mid-20s, I was able to keep my weight fairly under control. But then came kids, long hours at a stressful job, home ownership and more stress.

Doughnuts and coffee at 3 p.m. followed by peanut butter and chocolate with a Kahlúa-and-milk chaser at midnight did little for my health or waistline.

And here’s the thing: Deep down, I knew I was doing destructive things to my body. I felt it in my bones (literally), my clothes and my energy.

By 2001, I was around 220 pounds and feeling every last ounce of it. I was getting winded going up the stairs.

I buckled down and on my 37th birthday, I put on a 30-minute exercise video. I got through 10 minutes of it and – as Roseanne-Roseannadanna used to say on “Saturday Night Live” – “I thought I was gonna die!”

Fast-forward, and next month I’ll mark my 14th year of my “exercise sobriety.”

I work out an average of four to five times a week. I’m doing P90X and Tony Horton workouts, lifting weights and doing a variety of cardio and other exercises.

Pedro is a similar success story. He’s literally half the man he once was, having lost about 130 pounds. He looks great and dresses like a boss!

In this episode of About Men Radio, Pedro and I discuss our struggles with our weight, what our stress eating habits are like and how we modified our lifestyle to live better.

None of this is easy but it’s to point out that Pedro and I are just like you — dads, husbands and worker-bees with a thousand different push-me-pull-me stresses in our lives.

Share with us stories of your struggles, setbacks and successes at amr@aboutmenshow.com

If we can do it, so can you.

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Training for the Warrior Dash!

I have signed up to race in one of those so-called “extreme races” that feature running and mud pits and obstacles.

One of the better known ones is Tough Mudder. The one I’ve entered is called the Warrior Dash, which helps raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

(If you want to make a donation to help save kids from cancer and other horrible diseases, here’s a link where you can make a donation. I am participating under the Team About Men Radio banner. Whatever you can donate would be greatly appreciated and will validate my efforts!)

I’ve been working out consistently for the past 13-plus years but I’ve also just turned 50.

And will you look at some of these crazy obstacles?

There are things like shallow mud pits that you have to crawl through under rows of barbed wire. And another one called “Warrior Roast” in which participants look to be jumping over a bonfire.

Forget candlesticks, Jack. You better be really nimble jumping over this wienie roast!

bonfire

Clearly, there’s lot of opportunities for things on my body to break, bleed or fall off.

As an adult, I am walking around with a fair amount of Bronx asphalt I absorbed into my knees thanks to various falls I took as a kid, including a memorable one on a scooter coming down “Dead Man’s Curve,” which intersects with “Suicide Hill.”

suicide hill

(You won’t find those designations officially anywhere on a map of the Bronx, but ask anyone from my old neighborhood and they will know instantly where I am talking about.)

On the same day that I registered for the Warrior Dash, I went to our local gym to inquire about training. Well, more accurately, my wife got me a gift certificate about two years ago for 10 training sessions.

Now that I have a particular goal in mind, I know what I’ll be training for.

I’ve been good about keeping up my exercise regime at home, working out an average of four to five days a week, but this is going to introduce a whole new level of challenges and expectations.

So, if it’s going to inflict discomfort, and possibly leave some scars, why do it?

It’s a new goal to meet and a way for me to face my fears of being a physical flop in a public setting.

Plus, I get a really cool, goofy-looking Viking’s hat for entering!

I’ll keep you posted on my progress and training.

Until then, here’s mud in my eye!

Read more blog posts at www.aboutmenradio.com and at http://aboutmenradio.net

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About Exercise: Never Too Old To Bring It

I am no celebrity worshipper, but I have to confess I was nervous about meeting exercise guru Tony Horton.

For my 50th birthday, my bride got me (among other gifts) tickets for this year’s Central PA Health & Fitness Expo at Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center.

The centerpiece of the event was a meet-and-greet with Tony (he of the P90X workout fame), a chance to hear him as a keynote speaker, and, best of all, to participate in a workout he was leading.

So here I am on line with dozens of others, waiting to meet Tony, shake hands, chat and get an autograph and a photo.

Chris_TonyThe closest I’ve ever come to a brush with celebrity was in 1978, when I met then-New York City Mayor Edward Koch and got his autograph. Though Koch was the leader of the greatest city in the world, he did not sell nearly five million pieces of exercise DVDs closing in on nearly $1 billion in sales.

That distinction would belong to Tony Horton, who I was getting closer to meeting as the line progressed.

He could not have been more warm, gracious and funny. A total mensch.

I told him what an inspiration he was (he’s 56 BTW and totally shredded) and at one point I put a hand over his and told him I was sorry about his dad’s recent death.

His composure changed visibly. You could see he was truly touched by the sympathy. He called his dad’s death a “goofy,” unexpected loss and said he should have had 10 more years in him.

He was totally genuine. Not an ounce of phony. He was super generous with his time.

Then came his keynote speech, the highlights of which were: “Do your best and forget the rest.”

My favorite advice? Don’t feel 100 percent? Go and work out anyway.

“Go in there and stink it up” by giving only 20, 30 or 40 percent. But just do it.

He spoke enthusiastically and passionately about exercise, about overcoming his own obstacles in life (a grade C student with a speech impediment who in his early adult years was $60,000 in debt).

And then came the workout. I never smiled so much busting my hump as I did this day. I was joined by 130 others who jumped, grunted, burpeed, ran and push-upped our way through the 40-minute routine.

Tony roamed the room, coaching people, encouraging them and correcting their form.

At one point during the warm-up, he pointed at me and winked as if to say: “Yeah, you got it!”

The capstone came at the end of the workout.

I turned to this guy next to me (in his early 30s, I would guess) and I told him how he had absolutely crushed the exercises.

He looked at me and said: “Can I ask how old you are, sir?”

I told him I turn 50 in a couple of weeks.

He shook my hand firmly and said: “Every move, you just were killing it!”

Yes!!!!! Bring it!

AMR 04: Do You Even Lift, Bro?

It’s a very simple equation: If you want to stay in shape you need to eat less and be more active. This week the About Men Posse discuss what motivates them to exercise…and what doesn’t.