Geeks are stereotyped. We’re either scrawny or fat, but never the kind to be mistaken for for the captain of the football team. The phrase “in shape” probably isn’t a term used to describe most of us. Like most other stereotypes, however, it’s not always close to accurate. For example, the buff Vin Diesel has been vocal about his love for Dungeons & Dragons. You don’t get more geeky than that.
However, a lot of us fit the stereotype. I know I do, and I know a lot of you do as well. So, the question is, “What do we do now?”
This is the first Level Up column, a new feature here at Otherwhere Gazette, where I’m going to outline my own journey toward fitness as well as things I’ve learned along the way. First, a bit about me. I’m a writer here at Otherwhere Gazette and at my own website, as well as having a couple of books out. Physical transformations are central themes in one of my novels, and a novelette that kicks off that series, and part of that is because I’m realistic enough to know that people built like me are going to have problems. I’m not just talking about problems from society either, but actual health problems. Just because they’re not here now doesn’t mean they won’t be.
This is me:
No, I’m not going to post a shirtless photo because I like my readers too much to inflict that level of horror upon them. However, it’s clear that I’m not a svelte model of geekdom by any stretch of the imagination.
Currently, I’m 5’8″ and weigh 243 lbs. It does not look good on a short package like me.
A couple of weeks ago, I started this journey. It was kind of simple for me. I asked my father-in-law for some help. He was a long time competitive bodybuilder and a charter member of our local weightlifting hall of fame. He’s also been sought out by members of the local gym seeking to make some good gains because he knows a thing or two.
Luckily, he agreed. It’s still early, so no massive changes just yet, but between what I’ve learned from him, what I’ve learned on my own here at the start, and elsewhere on the internet, I’ve got enough to start with.
1. Do not starve yourself before gym time
I did the opposite, so this is the voice of my own experience. I didn’t mean to starve myself, but I just didn’t eat before hitting the gym. Then, I did a kick-ass workout and started feeling a little lightheaded, so I sat down on a piece of equipment to get my bearings.
The next thing I knew, I was on the ground looking up at a number of folks. I’d passed out, slammed my head against the piece of equipment, opening up a nice gash above my left eye, then fell back and slammed the back of my head against a cross piece on it.
The gash wasn’t too bad, and a couple of bananas took care of the blood sugar crash, but the concussion screwed me up for a couple of days. Not a good way to start off a journey, so learn from my mistake.
2. Don’t make massive changes all at once.
Like a lot of folks, I’m guilty of walking through the house, tossing everything that’s not good for me, then grinding away at the gym…
…only to have it all fall apart. However, goofing off yesterday, I came across this article on bodybuilding.com (and that site is about more than just packing on meat for competitions, lemme tell ya!) about how to tell if your transformation attempts are going to fail.
This year, commit to less. Make small changes you know you can manage without clawing your eyes out. Rather than cutting out all processed foods, start by cooking one or two more meals per week at home, and making healthier choices when you eat out. Rather than overselling yourself on six days a week in the gym, aim for three days or three 30-minute walks a week.
Find the sweet spot of intensity—both in the gym and out—and you’ll see changes more quickly—and more consistently—than with an extreme approach. Your journey is your own, but I want to help you sustain it for a lifetime!
While many of the other things they use in that article are things I steer clear of, this is my worst sin. I know it, and now you know it. So, as a result, I’m going to take a step back and just let it flow a bit. That’s why right now, it’s all about the gym.
The truth is, the gym doesn’t really do all that much to burn fat. Most of that comes from diet, but my goals aren’t just about losing the fat. My overall goal is to finish a 5K in under 20 minutes, then be able to walk right up to a bench and do a set with my body weight for reps. That means lots of exercise.
Now, that’s not to say that the diet isn’t changing. I’ve already swapped out regular bread with whole wheat, a staple of weight loss plans for decades now. It’s a small change, and that’s by design.
3. It’s OK for this to be about you
I’m going to do something that’s not generally accepted in today’s society. I’m going to give you permission to be selfish. When it comes to something like this, it’s just fine to do it all for you.
This is especially true for the ladies. In the past few months, I’ve encountered multiple people trying to tell women that they shouldn’t pursue their goals. The most recent was just yesterday with a friend who is preparing for a figure competition in Alabama next month who was told that she was getting too “big” and looked too manly. She doesn’t.
Another was a woman who has lost a lot of weight who showed a photo of where she wants to be before it’s all said and done. Now, someone tried to point out that it might not be realistic to compare herself to another woman (and they were right), others tried to tell her to not bother.
The truth is, someone transforming can bring out the haters. Big time. Sometimes it’s jealousy. They’re upset that you have done what they haven’t. Sometimes, it’s just people flapping their gums about stuff they don’t understand. Either way, don’t let them get to you.
So, that’s the close of the first column. I want to ask you all what you want to see out of this column, so chime in down below and let me know.