T Nation

Help... Need Steer In Right Direction

Hey Guys,

I’ve been posting on this forum (albeit under KyleWitter99) for quite a while now, so I’m not TRYING to make this post sound like, “I’m fat and I don’t want to work, who knows of a miracle cure?”… So here it is.

3 years ago (when I was 20 y.o.) before I joined the Navy I found this awesome website, which opened my eyes to the real world of training. At that time, I lived the nice relaxing life of a full-time student and henceforth could eat and train as I needed to. Besides needing to put on some mass and expand my training knowledge (using compound lifts, periodization, etc.), I was doin’ pretty good. I was approx. 10-12% body fat for the first time in my life and really kickin’ ass physically.

When I joined the Navy, boot camp was the first let down. To sum things up, it was a 9 week program that gleefully donated about 10 lbs. of adipose to my physique. When I arrived at my first training command I worked very hard to cut the fat, but since I lived on base my food selection was limited to crappy cafeteria food. I seemed to be able to maintain about 14% or so for the next year or so, though I did gain some decent muscle and set some PR’s in the DL and Chins.

After about 14 months from arriving, I graduated that training school and was sent to another. This time I was subjected to rotating shift work, working 12-14 hour days, 7 days in a row with only an average of 2 days off in between shift weeks. Whether I’m just a big p*ssy or not, I was unable to sustain my most cherished of pasttimes; I simply didn’t have the energy or desire to drive my ass all the way to the gym and back on my relatively sparring free time. My diet rapidly deminished to crap as time went on.

After 6 months of that training, I was selected to stay at the command as an instructor. This meant that I got 8 hour days instead of 12-14! I paired up w/ a co-worker that would be in NY for another 3-4 months and started kickin’ ass again. During that time, I dropped from the 18-19% bf that I had incurred to an improved 14-15%. We didn’t have access to a gym, so we used k-bells, jumprope, and the local track to do sprints.

When he moved away, I moved and no longer had that parter for motivation. Not only that, but I decided to go back to school for my nuclear engineering/engineering physics dual major which would require me to do 12, 16, even 18 credit hours per semester on top of the rotating shift work of an avg. 55 hours per week. Unfortuanately this led to cessasion of training once again. I’m in my 2nd semester now, and I have 3 to go. Luckily, the next semesters are only 13, 12, and 15 credit hours respectivly.

What’s my point? My point is that I’m sick of having excuses. Ever since I graduated high school, lifting had been my priority and had paid off well. Since I’ve joined the Navy my physique has been forced to be put on the back burner, and I want it to end. What am I to do? I know I’m not the ONLY one that has a hellaciously busy life.

My concern is that I can’t fail this school… I must get my degree, as I want to become a navy pilot. If I lift like I used to, I run the risk of both failing out of this school and overtraining due to the cumulative stresses.

First and foremost, I must get my diet in order… I know WHAT to eat, I just don’t know what approach I should take. Should I do the don’t diet profile and slowly peel the fat off over time? Should I T-Dawg it and try to hammer it off in a reasonable amount of time? Should I bombard it and pull a 2-3 week Fat Fast? I’m lost…

Second most, training. What type of training should I do? I know what my options are (at least reguarding programs that have been posted)… Theres, Fat to Fire I and II, which I am definitely leaning toward. There is Meltdown I and II, which has worked AWESOME in the past, but I think I’m to weak for at the moment. There’s kettlebells ONLY, which hasn’t proved too helpful in the past.

I know that the solution to my problem doesn’t lie in supplementation, but more of a lifestyle change. I’m not looking for the easy way out, I just need some help. Please don’t take this the wrong way, I want to work, I just don’t know which way to go… Please Help (and give me that proverbial smack in the face I need :slight_smile: ).


BTW, I’m at a current 22%… Suckin’


It’s easier than you think it is: keep it simple. Sprint 2X a week, or try GPP ASAP on your non-training days. It takes fifteen minutes and it’ll get you in shape quick. Eat clean and proper portions, like Don’t Diet suggests; for some reason, ketogenic diets don’t mix well with engineering degrees. Use a basic but powerful program, like EDT or Meltdown or OVT. If you feel “too weak” to use a full-out fat loss program like Meltdown, just turn the volume and intensity down some until you’re broken in.

It’s easy; stop agonizing and do something. You’ll find that once you get back into a groove again you’ll adopt your old habits easily.

Since you are in a “can’t fail” situation with your education, I’d suggest not doing anything radical and drastic at this point.

Consider your workouts as a way to get in some physical exercise as a balance to all the brain work you are doing. Don’t train so hard that it is anything but a way to relieve stress and pressure, making it easier to hit the books. Keep it fun.

There is no magic formula. Figure out whether you really want to stay physically active or not. Do you want to be fit, or do you want to wait until after you finish your education?

Do you want it? Then dammit, make it happen. Who cares what diet you follow – you certainly should know how to eat well by now. Don’t make it a big effort, just keep it simple. Who cares what workout plan you follow – do big compound lifts and do them often.

Don’t put any pressure on yourself. This can be hard to do, but learn not to take it too seriously for now. If you stick to it, you know your body has no choice but to go where you want it to. Don’t worry about the timeframe. Don’t allow yourself to get stressed about it. Classes, deadlines and exams will give you enough of that shit. Hit the gym regularly and trust your body.

Make sure you want it, then make it part of your lifestyle and use it as a tool to keep you fit and healthy so that you stay energetic, healthy and motivated. That stats don’t matter. Just keep a good base. Make sure you look forward to each workout.

When you finish your next three terms or so, then you can decide if you want to let things get more complex and if you have the ability to focus on more concrete goals.

Anyway, I’m rambling on a bit, so here’s a quick summary:

  • Make sure you aren’t making this more work and stress since you already have plenty of that. Keep it simple!

  • Decide if you really want to work out or not right now. Sliding sucks, but if you know what you are doing you can always start over. Make up your mind!

  • To borrow from Nike, once you make up your mind, be a man and… JUST DO IT!.

Good luck.

Start out slowly until you figure out how much intensity and time you can put in to it considering your busy schedule. Going gung-ho right off the bat, especially after a long lay-off, results in burn-out more often than not.

I like what Dan John said in his article about the Tabata method. He said he only does this particular workout twice a month because any more than that would cause him to dread it…and he says anytime you start to feel that way about a workout, you won’t feel that way for long because you just won’t do it at all.

I know it might seem wussy, but you might start out with something as simple as powerwalking for 20 minutes 5x’s/week. Going from doing nothing, even this will give you results if your diet is together. Plus it might serve as a low-intensity form of GPP and help bring up your fitness levels to give you a good base to start from when you do pick the weights back up.

Once you are ready for the weights again, I would concentrate on building back up some basic strength. First, this will build a foundation for your physique goals. More strength=heavier weights=more muscle=higher resting metabolic rate.

Programs like Fat to Fire and Meltdown are good for fat loss, but they’re very intense and, in my opinion, not good for gaining muscle mass. You might try something like Westside for Skinny Bastards. You won’t have to start off doing 1 RM’s. I think DeFranco has you working up to a max set of 5.

It sounds like you already have alot of demands on your time, so I would make your workouts short and intense…no nonsense, no talking, get in and get out.

Don’t even think about not finishing school because it would give you more time to concentrate on building your body. I speak from experience(not finishing). This is an activity that is supposed to enhance the rest of your life, not be your life.

If you have to, make up a timeline of every hour of every day and write down what your daily activities are. This will give you a clearer picture of when you have time to fit in workouts and meals.

I’m just trying to provide a framework and a little insight in to the mindset that has worked for me. It sounds like you know your way around a weightroom and have had experience dieting successfully in the past. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Remember this is a marathon, not a sprint.(Man, I could use a few more cliches)

When your motivation starts to wane, read one of the motivational articles here on T-Nation.

Hope that helps. Good luck!



First of all, Thanks for your Commitment. The Navy paid for my education and now I’m glad to help pay for yours.

Vroom has some good points and I have a few practical points for you too.

It is possible to eat decent while at various commands and situations. You will probably need to keep some handy snacks around like sardines, kippers, dried fruit, nutrition bars, etc. as well as vitamins, minerals, proteins and what your budget will allow.

Based on what you have told us you should reconsider your fitness goals for now. Believe me there will be plenty of time to pursue large scale goals soon enough. I suggest you strive to stay in shape and consistently make small improvements. But remember that sometimes sleep is going to be your best health prescription.

It’s likely that you will not be able to etch out a consistent time frame to hit the gym. If that’s the case then you’ll have to consider your time frame day by day. Try to find a time in the day that your still relatively fresh like early morning or lunch time.

It is very important that you do try to work out in some fashion as often as possible as you probably know the positive effects of exercise on stress, brain function, etc.

Hopefully you have a gym available and you can scratch out 45 minutes or an hour to workout. If so (again) concentrate on the big multi joint movements. Check out just about anything Chad Waterbury has written on this site for more understanding.

Please don’t beat yourself up if you miss a workout now and then. Even a couple. Just continue to eat well and get back after it asap.

One last thing, I found in 12 years of service that it never hurts to talk to someone up the chain who is of like mind and can help you out some. More often than not, they will.

If nothing else hope to have given some encouragement. Best wishes to you.