T Nation

Hopeless T-Nation Virgin


Alright, here's my story:

I'm 22 years old, definitely over weight and unhappy about my chub now. I had been a swimmer for about 10 years, training almost 30 hours a week, but was never the tiny thin type. At the age of 18 or so, I had to quit swimming due to medical reasons.

I then picked up running for maybe a year, but was a HORRIBLE runner! Once school came around, that was pretty much it. I hardly ever worked out and had completely dropped any kind of diet/routine.

Mid January of this year came around and I ended up having gallbladder/pancreatic problems which forced me to be pretty much on a rabbit diet- I wasn't to take in any fats!! I started dropping weight like it was going out of style lol.

At this point, I still wasn't doing any cardio, but probably dropped a good 20 lbs or so in just under two months. Late march, was my surgery date. I was told I could start eating fats again, but chose to stick to the low fat diet.

It was mid June by the time I started my running routine once more. I'm now running about 4 times a week for about 20-25 minutes during my work week. I try to switch things up on the weekends and recently took up golf. I'm really starting to find it hard to be motivated. I try not to weigh myself too often, but when I do it's always the same damn thing!!

I'm getting pretty frustrated. I guess I've kind of hit my plateau. I still think I'm losing weight, but it's almost at a standstill now.

Any ideas? Thoughts? I try to stay away from the gym altogether. I just find myself getting bored so it makes things a lot harder lol. My diet consists of the same things, day in day out, I can't cook :(.

Double post.. I figured I should have this in the beginners forum for sure!!


I did the ex-swimmer thing to, and my first forays into running weren't all that successful either. I guess I just expected I'd get the hang of it like I had swimming, forgetting all the junk yardage I'd put in to hone my swimming.

Wanting to stay away from the gym poses some additional challenges, since it is difficult to maintain one's resting metabolism without some strength training, and this can contribute to slowly finding your program less effective. Your feeling you've hit a plateau may be due to this, especially if you are running at about the same speeds every run.

If you are going to stick to cardio alone, you will need to figure out how to make the most of it, training different aspects of your cardio performance as you did when you were swimming. That means some sprinting/intervals, some high-intensity but still aerobic, and some longer, slower sessions. This will improve your cardio fitness faster, allowing you to do more work in the same time and burning more calories.

The interval work will have some muscle growth benefits, although nowhere near what lifting has. It also boosts your metabolism for hours after you stop exercising as your body attempts to repair from the stress you placed on it. Still, I think you'll find a fairly broad consensus that strength training is critical to really seeing progress in your physique.

You'll also hear lots on low-fat, high-carb diets. Having had my gallbladder out last year (all the men in my family end up w/ severe gallstones for some reason), I know that eating fat can cause interesting side effects for at least a while. You should make sure that you are getting good quality fats at least, taking fish oil supplements and olive oil.

Likewise, make sure you are careful with the carbs, trying to limit the ones with the big impacts on your blood insulin levels: esp. sugar & sugar substitutes, white flour, and the like. Rice has a high glycemic index (search the site or google it if you don't know what this is), but doesn't have much of an insulin impact. Whole grain oats, buckwheat, real whole wheat (many "wheat breads" and multi-grain breads are largely white flour).

All this is hard to do if you don't cook, as processed ready-to-eat microwave food is often loaded with junk. Eat lots of small meals rather than a few big ones. Eat foods with lots of fiber, and get some protein and fat at every meal. The fiber, along with high water content in foods, give the feeling of fullness with fewer calories. The protein & fat help slow down when the meal leaves the stomach, and all can help keeping your from hunger induced by blood sugar spikes and crashes.

Keep a log of your food intake and calories, as well as your calories expended to make sure you aren't underestimating your intake relative to your expenditure.

And definitely reconsider some type of strength training. If you search this site, you will find some non-traditional strength programs that can be done without a gym.

Good luck.


Well I shouldn't say I'm against the idea of the gym/strength training completely, I was just hoping to work on cardio mainly right now. I'm also a full time student and work full time as well so it gets hard to manage it all. I don't even have a gym membership anymore!! lol I think my main concern right now should be making my diet next to flawless :slight_smile:


The question is, WHY do you want to work on your cardio right now?


Well, like I had said it's a lot easier for me to just start running from point A, then to have to make a special time and go to the gym. To be completely honest, cardio is all I know. We used to train a little with weights when I was swimming, but no more than once or twice a week.


Strength training will make a much greater change in you body than cardio. Steady-state cardio is just the icing on the cake. Hard interval work and sprints can be beneficial. Lift, get the diet in line, and do some cardio.


What's up? Always great to find another ex-swimmer on the site. I can sympathize with you to some degree. I swam throughout high school, and now in college, I don't want to be constrained to it.

I'm a sophomore, and even though I tried to stay in swimming shape just because it felt natural all of last year, it led to me overstressing myself to the point I got sick.

I tried running a lot, just as you did, but again, like the other post said forgot about how long it takes for the body to switch over from swimming to running. I ended up getting wicked shin splints all the time, and it wasn't until I was taught proper running form that they went away.

I would reccomend weight lifting at least twice a week, preferably three. It's understandable that you're busy, but just try to pop in maybe on the weekend. It took me a little while to figure out what to do, but now that you have this site, you're in good hands. Search for the A-B Strategy by Charles Staley, and try to follow it. It's simple, and if you have any questions just post them!

In regards to running, if you are looking for the best way to lose weight, running works...but to some extent. Lifting will definatly be an awesome supplement to it, but if the main focus is running, train like you would have when swimming.

Search underneath the MWA tab for the Fat Inferno Cardio Program by Olesya Novik. She gives an awesome presentation on how to design one. It's especially hard for us swimmers to get used to the notion that more is not always better (volume, that is), especially if you did distance.

Anyways, welcome to T-Nation, and we will try to help you out!

Oh, the diet thing. Right. Check out stuff by John Berardi! Try the seven habits of highly effective nutritional programs. Great start. For links to all of these, check out the Are You A Beginner Thread started by Vroom at the top of the Beginner's forum.

Good luck!


MWA forum !



If you don't want to go to the gym you could buy a set of adjustable dumbbells (you could probably even get them cheap at a garage sale or flea market) and start training at home with those. Here are a couple of workouts I like that only use dumbbells:

Waterbury's Figure Program

Dumbbell workout from stumptuous.com (you'll find helpful info if you browse around this site, additionally)

If you've hit a plateau just doing cardio and dieting it's fairly certain that lifting weights will break that plateau. Plus, lifting weights will help ensure that you're losing fat and not muscle.