T Nation

Female, 24, I'm at That Point in My Life


#1

Hi. I'm at that point in my life--just graduated college, have no idea what the hell I've done with my life or where it's going. I work part-time at a sporting goods store. I live back at home with my dad and my older brother. And somehow I've gained 15 pounds since my late-teens...and I was a lil' pudgy to begin with.

So if anybody out there wants to help me lose some weight that would be awesome. You should know that for most of my life I have been on and off dieting. But here are some specific goals:

1) when I was 17 I could run 45 minutes straight....I'd like to get back to that and push it to an hour
2) I've had a muffin top since I was 8...I'd like to get rid of that
3) I really like the way toned arms and nice shoulders look...and so does my girlfriend
4) I have power-house legs (huge thighs)...can I shrink the size without losing the muscle?
5) And yes...I'd like to look good naked...doesn't everyone?

From an intensity stand point, I'm out of shape, I hit the gym maybe 2-3 times a week inconsistently and I usually stay under an hour. Also, I find it hard to wake up early but I just got a job as a substitute teacher so I'll have to get over that.

One last thing, if I really want something and have the right guidance I can accomplish the job.

Height: 5'8ish
Weight: 170ish

I can run 20 minutes straight but it's hard and my max speed is 5.5mph
I can curl 15lb 3x10-max
I can do 10 horrifying pushups in a row
I can do 1 pull up on a good day


#2

Eat better. Nothing you do in the gym will make a difference without this. Sadly, it’s also the hardest part.

Lift weights three times a week.

Do high intensity interval training twice a week.

Get a better job, move out your parents’ house.


#3

[quote]Yogi wrote:
Eat better. Nothing you do in the gym will make a difference without this. Sadly, it’s also the hardest part.

Lift weights three times a week.

Do high intensity interval training twice a week.

Get a better job, move out your parents’ house.[/quote]

This. Diet and strength training will do much more for you than any running will. And believe it or not, you will get better at running just by doing anything right now.


#4

[quote]rubberducky7o3 wrote:
I can run 20 minutes straight but it’s hard and my max speed is 5.5mph
[/quote]
Then please stop doing it, you aren’t doing yourself any favours

As Yogi has mentioned, diet will be the number one factor here, you need to learn how to eat consistently, not jumping on and off “diets”. I would recommend a book/program called Fat Loss Happens on Mondays as a good way to learn how to control your weight long-term.


#5

Re: diet

You probably don’t eat enough protein. Aim for about 110-140g/day. This a little over 1 lb of chicken breast or 6-8 tilapia filets every day to put it in perspective. That, along w/ lifting 3x/week will get you most of what you need.


#6

Since you’ve been dieting on and off for ‘most of your life’, do you have an idea of what types of diets suit you best? Which ones have you had the most success on? Which have seemed the most palatable as long-term solutions?

I agree with 1 man island that protein should be the focus. The easiest way I’ve found to make positive body composition changes is by centering my diet around my protein requirements. 140g/day might be more than you need though… I don’t necessarily even get that on all my non-workout days, and I’m supporting substantially more muscle than I assume you have. I’d shoot for an even 100g/day to start.

The rest of your diet should be about greens, vegetables in general, and some healthy fats used in cooking. Oils and butter are fine, just don’t use a shitload of either. Moderation is a good thing.

It sounds like you’re probably more or less on the right track in the gym. Fat loss is mostly predicated on diet, so as long as you’re doing some sort of resistance training, that’s likely sufficient to move in the right direction.

I’d keep a food log. Strictly. Know EXACTLY what you’re eating, everyday. This is the only way you’ll be able to make proper adjustments if you’re not getting the results you want.


#7

[quote]flipcollar wrote:
I’d keep a food log. Strictly. Know EXACTLY what you’re eating, everyday. This is the only way you’ll be able to make proper adjustments if you’re not getting the results you want.[/quote]

This

I’d recommend myfitnesspal. It may take some getting used to, but if you can’t train yourself to record what you’re eating everyday, you’re also going to be shit out of luck hitting any other goal in life.


#8

[quote]dagill2 wrote:

[quote]flipcollar wrote:
I’d keep a food log. Strictly. Know EXACTLY what you’re eating, everyday. This is the only way you’ll be able to make proper adjustments if you’re not getting the results you want.[/quote]

This

I’d recommend myfitnesspal. It may take some getting used to, but if you can’t train yourself to record what you’re eating everyday, you’re also going to be shit out of luck hitting any other goal in life.[/quote]

Lets not get carried away with this. I’ve never recorded what I eat and have achieved a 2nd degree black belt. Nutrition is important,however, IMO, a person can eat what they want within reason as long as they are training hard. So,if diet is a problem,serious weight training along with some cardio may just do the trick. Don’t make your path to fitness any harder than it has to be,or you probably won’t stick with it. Find a training partner if you can,maybe your girlfriend. Good luck and don’t give up. You can do it girl!


#9

[quote]flipcollar wrote:
Since you’ve been dieting on and off for ‘most of your life’, do you have an idea of what types of diets suit you best? Which ones have you had the most success on? Which have seemed the most palatable as long-term solutions?

I agree with 1 man island that protein should be the focus. The easiest way I’ve found to make positive body composition changes is by centering my diet around my protein requirements. 140g/day might be more than you need though… I don’t necessarily even get that on all my non-workout days, and I’m supporting substantially more muscle than I assume you have. I’d shoot for an even 100g/day to start.

The rest of your diet should be about greens, vegetables in general, and some healthy fats used in cooking. Oils and butter are fine, just don’t use a shitload of either. Moderation is a good thing.

It sounds like you’re probably more or less on the right track in the gym. Fat loss is mostly predicated on diet, so as long as you’re doing some sort of resistance training, that’s likely sufficient to move in the right direction.

I’d keep a food log. Strictly. Know EXACTLY what you’re eating, everyday. This is the only way you’ll be able to make proper adjustments if you’re not getting the results you want.[/quote]

I recently did the paleo diet with my mom for two weeks and thought it wasn’t too bad. So thanks maybe I will research that a bit more. I didn’t really get into it because I was just doing it for my mom and she lasted one day and i did the whole 14 days and only had like 1-2 cheat meals. I was also super busy at the time and didn’t eat enough.

For everyone who responded: Any recommendations on articles/links/websites/etc on beginner HIIT workouts and strength training. I’ve done Jamie Eason’s 12-week program for about two years now on and off lol and need some change because I’m bored with the same routine.

Thanks for all the help guys.

Workin on that better job thing too btw, never moving out, it’s free here!


#10

[quote]dagill2 wrote:

[quote]rubberducky7o3 wrote:
I can run 20 minutes straight but it’s hard and my max speed is 5.5mph
[/quote]
Then please stop doing it, you aren’t doing yourself any favours


[/quote]

Thanks for the article. Yeah I guess jogging really does suck and isn’t all that necessary for my health goals. Lots of runners in my family so I had never heard the argument against it. Makes total sense. I may just run 10 minutes as a warm up.

But I would have to say, if it came to survival I think I would run instead of fight so maybe I shouldn’t give it up completely lol.


#11

[quote]rubberducky7o3 wrote:

I recently did the paleo diet with my mom for two weeks and thought it wasn’t too bad. So thanks maybe I will research that a bit more. I didn’t really get into it because I was just doing it for my mom and she lasted one day and i did the whole 14 days and only had like 1-2 cheat meals. I was also super busy at the time and didn’t eat enough. [/quote]

two whole weeks? And you only had 2 cheat meals in that time? Wow, I can’t understand why you’d need to lose weight. You’re clearly super dedicated.


#12

[quote]rubberducky7o3 wrote:

[quote]dagill2 wrote:

[quote]rubberducky7o3 wrote:
I can run 20 minutes straight but it’s hard and my max speed is 5.5mph
[/quote]
Then please stop doing it, you aren’t doing yourself any favours


[/quote]

Thanks for the article. Yeah I guess jogging really does suck and isn’t all that necessary for my health goals. Lots of runners in my family so I had never heard the argument against it. Makes total sense. I may just run 10 minutes as a warm up.

But I would have to say, if it came to survival I think I would run instead of fight so maybe I shouldn’t give it up completely lol. [/quote]

You’d run away from something trying to kill you for 45mins at 5.5 mph? I think you might have to learn to fight.


#13

[quote]confusion wrote:
Lets not get carried away with this. I’ve never recorded what I eat and have achieved a 2nd degree black belt. Nutrition is important,however, IMO, a person can eat what they want within reason as long as they are training hard.[/quote]

I’m absolutely sure you can achieve performance goals without much attention to nutrition, but the OP’s goal is physique related and therefore directly related to her nutrition so not tracking it seems completely self-defeating. Without being being too harsh on the OP, I also seriously question her ability to train hard at this stage in her training life.


#14

[quote]confusion wrote:

[quote]dagill2 wrote:

[quote]flipcollar wrote:
I’d keep a food log. Strictly. Know EXACTLY what you’re eating, everyday. This is the only way you’ll be able to make proper adjustments if you’re not getting the results you want.[/quote]

This

I’d recommend myfitnesspal. It may take some getting used to, but if you can’t train yourself to record what you’re eating everyday, you’re also going to be shit out of luck hitting any other goal in life.[/quote]

Lets not get carried away with this. I’ve never recorded what I eat and have achieved a 2nd degree black belt. Nutrition is important,however, IMO, a person can eat what they want within reason as long as they are training hard. So,if diet is a problem,serious weight training along with some cardio may just do the trick. Don’t make your path to fitness any harder than it has to be,or you probably won’t stick with it. Find a training partner if you can,maybe your girlfriend. Good luck and don’t give up. You can do it girl![/quote]

In my experience, I’ve found this to be much more true for males than females. Our hormones are much more favorable for achieving lean body mass, so we many males can get away with looser diets. I’ve also never kept a food log for myself because I haven’t needed to. But for the OP, I feel it would be relevant. ‘Eating what she wants within reason’ isn’t getting the job done to this point.

I’ve also found that most women I’ve worked with to lose fat have appreciated the structure of a food log. Almost inevitably, when I’ve had someone keep a food log, they realize they’ve been lying to themselves about how much they actually snack.


#15

I said I only did it to support my mom no I was not dedicated at all and I found it easy. So if I was dedicated, I could probably expect some results. People diet for all kinds of reasons not just to lose weight.

Yes at this point I’m going to try paleo to lose weight. Hasn’t been the case in the past.


#16

No I would be dead if I ran away from something for 45 minutes at 5.5mph…that something would have to be a turtle and I would die from exhaustion. I just meant that would be my instinct. I’ll train to be able to fight but in a real world situation I have a knife and a taser so by that thinking I can just go sit my ass down on the couch and not worry about physical fitness being necessary for survival. Just kidding by the way.


#17

[quote]rubberducky7o3 wrote:
I said I only did it to support my mom no I was not dedicated at all and I found it easy. So if I was dedicated, I could probably expect some results. People diet for all kinds of reasons not just to lose weight.

Yes at this point I’m going to try paleo to lose weight. Hasn’t been the case in the past. [/quote]

One man’s experience, and YMMV:

I have very much enjoyed Paleo and have found it to be good (not perfect, as many have achieved far better physiques than I have) for fat loss and physique-related goals. I also have found it a highly enjoyable way to eat and, despite protestations that some critics have lobbed at the Paleo diet, I find it very easy to maintain. And delicious.

I eat within a Paleo “framework” without fretting every last detail. Paleo has its good points and pitfalls, and honestly, most of the criticism lobbed at Paleo comes from people that have such a rigid and extreme viewpoint without any flexibility. I could describe the way I eat as “95 percent Paleo” while acknowledging that I use heavy cream in my coffee, butter in my cooking, and eat some dark chocolate and red wine.

My GF is the same, FWIW. She’s more like 85 percent Paleo, though. But we both know that once we started eating this way, honestly, things like sugar cravings, urges to gorge on pancakes or cereal or pasta, all pretty much went away. You rarely miss that stuff once you get used to eating really good Paleo meals.

I’m not much of a “recipe” cook - I think once you learn how-to-cook you have less dependency on recipes - but for inspiration, you might consider getting the Well Fed and/or Well Fed 2 cookbooks, which offer a lot of really good bases for Paleo cooking.


#18

[quote]flipcollar wrote:

[quote]confusion wrote:

[quote]dagill2 wrote:

[quote]flipcollar wrote:
I’d keep a food log. Strictly. Know EXACTLY what you’re eating, everyday. This is the only way you’ll be able to make proper adjustments if you’re not getting the results you want.[/quote]

This

I’d recommend myfitnesspal. It may take some getting used to, but if you can’t train yourself to record what you’re eating everyday, you’re also going to be shit out of luck hitting any other goal in life.[/quote]

Lets not get carried away with this. I’ve never recorded what I eat and have achieved a 2nd degree black belt. Nutrition is important,however, IMO, a person can eat what they want within reason as long as they are training hard. So,if diet is a problem,serious weight training along with some cardio may just do the trick. Don’t make your path to fitness any harder than it has to be,or you probably won’t stick with it. Find a training partner if you can,maybe your girlfriend. Good luck and don’t give up. You can do it girl![/quote]

In my experience, I’ve found this to be much more true for males than females. Our hormones are much more favorable for achieving lean body mass, so we many males can get away with looser diets. I’ve also never kept a food log for myself because I haven’t needed to. But for the OP, I feel it would be relevant. ‘Eating what she wants within reason’ isn’t getting the job done to this point.

I’ve also found that most women I’ve worked with to lose fat have appreciated the structure of a food log. Almost inevitably, when I’ve had someone keep a food log, they realize they’ve been lying to themselves about how much they actually snack.[/quote]

understood. I am sure what.you are saying will work


#19

[quote]rubberducky7o3 wrote:
I can do 10 horrifying pushups in a row[/quote]
Are these full push-ups with straight legs and just hands and toes on the floor, or with your knees bent?

Figuring you mean a legit pull-up, just grabbing an overhead bar and doing an unassisted rep, this is already better than most women.

Your goals are definitely doable, but I agree that dialing in your nutrition is key. Keep it simple. If “paleo” catches your eye, then give it a fair shot. But the worst thing you can do is try fad after fad after fad.

Because you’ve been trying to figure stuff out for a bunch of years, I think you need to consider setting up basic lifestyle fixes instead of focusing on short-term 4-12 week plans. Did you finish the V-Diet a few years ago? How were your results?

For nutrition, check these:


For training, there are tons of choices. I’d consider a plan from here:


Or Chad Waterbury’s TBT program that you did a million years ago. That’s a very solid and straightforward routine.

Plus some cardio like this after each lifting session. 10-15 minutes tops:


Hard and brief conditioning work will carryover more towards your goals. If you’re going to use a treadmill, crank up the incline crazy-high and march on, without holding the handrails. If your gym has a heavy bag, throw some kicks for rounds. Or read up about “complexes”.


#20

[quote]ActivitiesGuy wrote:

[quote]rubberducky7o3 wrote:
I said I only did it to support my mom no I was not dedicated at all and I found it easy. So if I was dedicated, I could probably expect some results. People diet for all kinds of reasons not just to lose weight.

Yes at this point I’m going to try paleo to lose weight. Hasn’t been the case in the past. [/quote]

One man’s experience, and YMMV:

I have very much enjoyed Paleo and have found it to be good (not perfect, as many have achieved far better physiques than I have) for fat loss and physique-related goals. I also have found it a highly enjoyable way to eat and, despite protestations that some critics have lobbed at the Paleo diet, I find it very easy to maintain. And delicious.

I eat within a Paleo “framework” without fretting every last detail. Paleo has its good points and pitfalls, and honestly, most of the criticism lobbed at Paleo comes from people that have such a rigid and extreme viewpoint without any flexibility. I could describe the way I eat as “95 percent Paleo” while acknowledging that I use heavy cream in my coffee, butter in my cooking, and eat some dark chocolate and red wine.

My GF is the same, FWIW. She’s more like 85 percent Paleo, though. But we both know that once we started eating this way, honestly, things like sugar cravings, urges to gorge on pancakes or cereal or pasta, all pretty much went away. You rarely miss that stuff once you get used to eating really good Paleo meals.

I’m not much of a “recipe” cook - I think once you learn how-to-cook you have less dependency on recipes - but for inspiration, you might consider getting the Well Fed and/or Well Fed 2 cookbooks, which offer a lot of really good bases for Paleo cooking.[/quote]

Thanks for your input that was actually very helpful. I’ll look into those cookbooks, I agree. If you know how to cook you can improvise and make yummy healthy meals. I made paleo brownies a while back and they were pretty good. Thankfully, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth…I crave salty things. Sour and salty things. I need to focus on groceries and meal prep–which I used to find really fun and now it’s a task. Any good tips and tricks for meal prep? I find I can only do about two days at a time before the food is no longer appetizing. Unless it’s plain chicken and steamed broc because that was already unappetizing.