Thursday Q&A: "...no upper body strength and can't keep myself motivated to eat better..."

"I need to start doing something..."

December 6, 2018

Today I wanted to answer a question I got from a Rockaholic pertaining to exercise and nutrition. It is similar to many questions I get, so I asked for his permission to anonymously post his question and my response. You can read our exchange below:

“I follow your fitness stuff and I need to start doing something..I am 5'10" tall and weigh 280 lbs..I am basically a pile of goo..no upper body strength and can't keep myself motivated to eat better and stuff..I need to get going..lots of health related things have been happening to family and friends and I don't want to go down that road I tried the gym thing a few years ago and absolutely hated it..people were rude..looked at me like I was a frigging leper..just not a good experience.. I have a treadmill and for awhile there I was doing 3 miles in 45 to 50 minutes..not bad...but then stopped. I know it has to start with diet..any tips or thoughts on that please..”

Man, I’m sorry to hear your initial gym experience was so negative! I’ve seen plenty of the people you’re describing, and got quite a few looks when I started lifting. “Zoning them out” is usually easier said than done. (I’ve been picked on and looked at weird my whole life so I had an easier time than most. Eventually I started wearing cut-offs and rocking out in between sets all the time, and now I get a whole different type of stares…) I recommend you simply focus on what you stand to gain, and be relentless in pursuing it. It’s fine if you want to use your spite for them as fuel, but don’t let it defeat you. And remember, the act of stepping into that situation is an accomplishment in itself!

You could also experiment with the wide wonderful world of bodyweight exercises from the comfort of your own home. My older blogs focus on these, and there are a ton of other examples online. Kettlebells, dumbbells, suspension trainers like TRX are also all great at-home options. It’s less about the modality itself, and more about finding what works for YOU. I don’t have that specific answer, and no one else does either so if they claim to, they’re lying and trying to sell you something. You gotta go find it yourself

As for nutrition… Once again, it’s really about finding what works for you. There are no hard rules. Start with common sense sh** like eating more veggies and protein. Hydrate. Fruit is great, f**k the haters. Smaller portions of the not-so-healthy stuff. The basics, taken in baby steps, will lead you to the promised land in time. This approach is easy to underestimate because it’s so easy to understand, and most people would rather be sold a complicated quick fix, than put in the effort on the simple stuff. Simple works, and it doesn’t mean easy.

The other thing I’ll mention broadly, is the benefits of scaling all this sh** down into ridiculously manageable steps. You can always add to a smaller goal. You can start at 10 squats a day. Then the next week make it 11 squats a day. One year later you’re at 434 squats a week, plus the tens of thousands of other ones you did. I haven’t done the full math on that one, but even 10 squats a day for a full year is 3650 that you otherwise wouldn’t have done. Scale it down so you can do it daily and the results scale up pretty quick in the grand scheme of things.

Hope this helps. If you have any questions yourself, feel free to ask them in the Down With The Fitness Facebook Group!

Matt Koch