T Nation

Athletic & Active to Obese & Massively Sedentary and Back Again?


When I was younger, I was a pretty athletic guy who got into weight training (and spent time on T-Nation) and was in generally good shape till I turned 22. Then, for some reason, I slowly lost all motivation to take care of myself and, over a 3 year period, went from 200lb with low body fat, lots of muscle and stamina, and good diet (based off of Berardi's Precision Nutrition) to 300lb with a ton of fat, some muscle left, very little stamina, and a horrible diet of eating whatever the fuck I want, whenever the fuck I want.

Whereas before I was very active with lots of sports, weightlifting, etc., I've become completely sedentary to the point where over a 24 hour period I probably spent less than an hour of it off a chair or bed. Walking for ten minutes left me aching, sweating, and slightly out of breath.

Thankfully I've gotten myself out of this funk and am ready to get back into shape. My first step was fixing my diet (again using PN as my guide) and I'm aware that the vast majority of my improvement will come from this change. However, I also want to be physically fit again. I've started some very rudimentary activity (30-40min min walking on twice a day) so that I don't shock my system when I'm ready to start weight lifting again. My question is how I should approach the weight lifting.

I know that with someone who's obese and has had almost no muscle development over the course of his/her life, you should start extremely lightly. But the examples I've heard of usually describe someone who can barely do pushups and bodyweight squats. As someone who was previously active, I can still do pushups, bench, deadlift and squat with a couple of plates albeit feeling very uncomfortable later. Should I jump back into my old weight lifting routines except with lighter weights? Or is there special attention I need to provide to parts of my body, such as my joints, hamstrings, etc, that have seen very little strenuous activity over the past few years?


i would suggest something simple like 5x5 for a bit - just to see where you are and to wake everything up. also focus on posterior chain activation and posture - glute bridges etc. theres loads of articles here to help. good luck


Don't jump in with both feet. From what I've seen, you'll typically last around three weeks and then give up. Ease into it gradually. A program like Starting Strength would be great because you start with such low weight and work your way up, and it's only 3x5 for most lifts - perfect for someone who's a complete newb or a born-again newb. Add some direct work for arms and whatnot after a month or two. You don't want to walk around with a big chest, big back, big legs, and toothpick arms.

When you get to the point where you can't add weight to your lifts every session, it's time to switch to another program. You may have to reset certain lifts now and again (especially squats and military press), and that's fine, but when you consistently can't add weight to the bar, you'll know it's time.

Good on you for addressing your diet first. That, in itself, put you on the fast track. By the way, what is your specific diet plan, if you don't mind me asking? Just want to make sure you're not jumping head-first into anything too severe.

There's no special attention needed for joints or anything, aside from stretching. Just stretch, lift, and keep that diet in check.


Just wanted to jump in here and say good on you for taking charge and getting back into it. Good luck!


ridethecliche: Thanks!

caveman + Jay: Thanks for the tips, starting simple with Starting Strength for 1-2 months sounds like a good idea. As far as my specific diet plan, I'm not being too anal. Just picking the anytime meals from Berardi's Precision Nutrition for now with the plan of adding in post-workout meals once I start lifting in a few days. For example, my meal plan tomorrow is:

  1. Omelette (1 cup egg white, 1 whole egg) w/ spinach, 4oz turkey, mushrooms, cheese
  2. Chicken w/ chick peas, tomato, onions
  3. Chicken salad w/ cucumbers, tomatoes, cilantro and olive oil + apple
  4. Same as 2
  5. Pecan crusted salmon w/ spinach

Green tea and Flameout throughout. Tuesdays plan is similar except swapping the chicken meals for ground beef dishes and maybe swapping the salmon for a cottage cheese dish.


Focus on callistenics.


i don't think its an issue to use ure old routine but i would lower the weight and start off slower. Using a 5x5 would also help IMO... glad to see that ure making the conscience effort to get back in shape good luck!


Again on the diet plan: Don't go all out right off the bat. Remember that your muscles will be trying to build up fuel stores and fibers very quickly, and you don't want to restrict that growth.

Your starting caloric intake should be somewhere around LBMx18. You listed your weight as 300 with some muscle, so assuming your LBM is around 170, you should eat close to 3000cal per day. You're going to gain some weight on that amount, but rest assured that it will be 99% muscle mass. As long as you're eating clean, you should see a little bit of fat loss as well. Stick with this while you're on Starting Strength. The fat will melt off MUCH faster later if you'll let your body build some muscle first.


uuummmm chickpeas


If you are going to post a three word response to a serious question, and you want your answer to be taken seriously, you should seriously learn how to spell those three words.

Besides that, this is terrible advice. Calisthenics will only get you so far.


Hey Jay, I'm sorry but I'm not really getting what your definition of going all out is and how I'm close to doing it. Are you saying that the problem is that I'm not eating enough? Assuming the PN cookbook is close to accurate and my cooking doesn't fuck things up to the extent that it ruins the book's accuracy, the sample day I posted has about 3600cal. The average day does seem to be about 3000cal though. Can you tell me explicitly what you're afraid I'm doing?

Is that a "uuummmm chickpeas, yum!" or a "uuummm chickpeas? wtf are you doing?"


That's 3600cal? Hmmm, it didn't look like it, but I didn't break it down or anything.

I just don't want you to fall into the usual trap of cutting calories down to 1800 in an effort to drop weight quickly. It was more of something for you to keep in mind than pointing out where you're screwing up.