T Nation

New Member Badly Needs Advice

Hi Guys.

I have ended up here as part of my reading into getting a better body. I have done a lot of reading. A vast amount. If it was all paper then it would be at least one rain forests worth…

And therein lies the problem.

I’m a 40 year old truck driver who has been far too fat for far too long… in fact, at age 15 I weighed in at 200lb. I tried things before so I might have a chance at getting girls and some worked. My lifestyle though has not been the best thing in the world.

I tried weightwatchers… worked for a while, I lost 40lbs dropped 2 sizes in jeans and then changed jobs and over 6 months put it all back… Finally, after my younger brother was diagnosed with diabetes I decided that life had to change. So in November last year I signed up to a gym, and started to eat a lot better. In the last couple of months I have lost nearly 10lbs and generally feel a lot better.

So where am I now? Well, sitting here I currently weigh 224lbs, go to the gym when I can and smoke 20 cigarettes a day…

I can hear the gasps already… Give up the weed… Yes… I’m going to try…

My other problem is work related. I work shift patterns of 4 days, 4 off, 4 nights, 4 off. 12 Hours a shift.

This means that I don’t work regular hours, regular days meaning that I can’t get to the gym when its open some days, sometimes I have to spend time with the wife and kids. I did invest in some weights and a bench for home use and I do use them when I don’t go to the gym.

So what do I need from you experts? I need a solid plan that a fat old man can understand. I need a plan that can work with real life and odd working hours. I have the diet thing sorted I think… healthy food, low carb diet with a multivitamin in the morning/evening (depending if i’m on day or night shift) suplementing a meal a day with a protein shake for protein whilst keeping my calorie intake low.

I know my primary goal is to not have greenpeace push me back in the water when i’m on the beach but I’m not wanting to end up like Jay Cutler et al… Although a bit more muscle wouldn’t be a bad thing!!

To give you some stats… I have no idea how to work out fat percentages, but trust me… I can pinch at least an inch.

I bench press (don’t laugh) 120lbs, my legs are pretty strong though… on the leg press machine I can do 10x2 reps of 400lbs (being fat means my legs have carried a lot of weight and got pretty strong!)

There comes another issue though… I have a knee injury which is still waiting for treatment under this wonderful UK hospital system… been waiting since august 2006 after my knee gave way whilst I was climbing down from the truck. It doesn’t hurt all the time, just when i’m working and climbing up and down all shift (I actually just trailer shift in the yard these days for the world famous Coca Cola Company)

To summmarise…

  1. Lose fat…

  2. Look better…

  3. Don’t aggravate my injury…

  4. Stop Smoking…

  5. Reduce my chance of being diagnosed Diabetic like my baby bro…

So what advice can you give guys? I’m all eyes and ears…

Just to add to the initial post…

Just got back from the gym where i managed 1x10 430lbs on the leg push… I Followed that with another 4 reps at the same weight but started to feel a twinge in my knee so I stopped… I wasn’t going to risk not walking for weeks…

Well eating a good healthy diet that is low carb, high in fiber, and Omega 3’s is a good start (if you’re not taking fish oil yet, start it might help with the knee too). That’ll help with the diabetes, losing fat, and looking better.

As far as a work out routine goes it is tougher because of the hours, and the need to get back in shape. I’d focus on trying to get your mobility back. (Have you seen a doctor about the knee)? The strength and body will follow.

The bread and butter of any workout should be squat variations (once the knee is better), deadlift variations (I’d suggest Romanians to build some stability and mobility and they shouldn’t be hard on the knee), presses (I’d look into your form Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe is a great resource), and rows.

I’d also looking to developing your general physical preparedness by doing everything from farmers carries (or any exercise in one of the many GPP articles on the site) to taking brisk walks at least a few days a week.

Remember doing something is better than nothing so if you can make time for 3 workouts a week being at home or what ever, then you’re doing yourself a great service.

the knee… yes, been to see a specialist who said he couldn’t see anything wrong but wanted an mri scan to be sure… been waiting since august for that!

Also seen a physiotherapist who advised against squats and running or any other high impact excercise. Cardio is fine on a cross trainer or static cycle which I have been doing post weights workout.

My job means a lot of step type workout though, climbing up and down 1.2m (3 steps) about 400 times a shift…

I am doing rows both with free weights and on the machines, various bench presses (flat and incline) with both free weights and barbells, leg presses, crunches etc.

I take the point that my first job is to get into shape before I can even start to shape my body.

My diet has changed pretty drastically but not in an extreme way. i have cut out the chocolate, the crisps (chips) the diet cola that the company give away free as well as the high sugar high carb trans-fat filled processed foods that were my staple diet and moved to museli or oatmeal for breakfast, protein shakes, fat free yogurt, fruit as well as rye bread, avocado, tuna and crab…

My main fight is reducing my portion sizes to what would be considered normal in the uk rather than stacking my plate and eating to excess as well as the snacking.

If i’m realistic, my calorie intake is probably down to 1500 per day instead of the 4000 I used to eat… 4000 junk calories… I certainly don’t feel hungry these days even though i’m eating more meals of good food, rather than a few junk meals. I’m also not skipping breakfast like I used to and drinking far more water (Not Desani either… that was a commercial disaster here in the UK).

I haven’t mentioned alcohol at all yet… I’m one of those rare (in the UK at last) people who don’t drink at all. I used to… again to excess (as a biker who went to weekend parties it was normal to me) but I started to get very good at drinking. I gave up about 8 years ago when I got married and became a responsible adult (ok, maybe that is an exageration, I could never be classed as responsible!) with a child on the way. It is one thing that I really do not miss about my past life.

I’m certainly open to suggestions though regarding diet and excersise and have been reading a lot of stuff on this site. I will admit to getting confused though with some of the conflicting (apparently) advice. Should I be eating more? Am I doing right by eating less calories than I expend to reduce my body fat or should I eat more to build muscle but run the risk of not using my sizeable fat store up? I don’t think I should eat less than I am otherwise I would probably be ill and not actually lose weight…

Again, all advice gratefully received.

I’m in no way an expert, but I’ve been reading this site forever, and working out seriously for about a year now, so I’ll offer my $0.02

For the dieting part, I was [am] fat, and after some mostly hazardous dieting mistakes, low-carb is the way to go. You’ll feel great after your body adjusts, and you lose weight fast, constantly, if you’re lifting especially.

When I started wanting to lose a lot of initial fat, I went 12 days with less than 25 carbs, usually less than 10. Some people can’t work this low, but my body doesn’t like carbs, even in the healthy whole-wheat form, so low carb rules for me. I took at least 4 teaspoons of raw ground flaxseed, so I could get some fiber, and ate 2 cups of salad a day.

I eat 12 days with extremely low carb. After 12 days, I notice that my fat loss slows, so I ‘carb-load’, though not in the sense that others do. My carb-load is eating so that I go almost completely out of ketosis [60 carbs first-half day]. This isn’t with good foods like squash. I eat junk. I might have a burrito, or something. Bad I know, but I go nuts if I don’t get it.

The very next day, I go bad to extremely low carb. This seems to jump the fast fat loss. I don’t know why, but for about 12 days I lose fast again.

So far, I have dropped 100lbs fat. While eating steak and salad and flaxseed. I don’t know that it will work for you, its just a suggestion.

As for working out, with your knee problems I’ll have to leave the response to those more knowledgable than myself.

I personally just do push-ups, pull-ups, farmers walk, dips, resistance punches [I kickbox], squats, deads, presses, pulldowns, and occasional isolation work.

Good luck

when you guys say 25 carbs or 10 carbs i take it you mean 25 grams or 10 grams etc.

[quote]Slamdog wrote:
the knee… yes, been to see a specialist who said he couldn’t see anything wrong but wanted an mri scan to be sure… been waiting since august for that!
[/quote]

Sounds like blast, best of luck to you. Once you get in the clear, start looking at what kind of leg mobility is safe for you.

I’d get a second opinion, some doctors can be over cautious…It’s not like you have to squat with a heavy load, but rep for rep, the act of squatting will do more for your body than leg pressing for strength, stability, and energy expendeture.

That’s a really big step and a great place to start.

Try eating 5-6 small meals a day. It’ll help you control your hunger so you’re not starving by dinner. Keep some healthy snacks handy to much on. Celery, raw spinach, and almonds are some of my personal favorites.

[quote]
If i’m realistic, my calorie intake is probably down to 1500 per day instead of the 4000 [/quote]

1500 seems too low especially for your job. Tony Gentilcore’s “The Angry Trainer” has a good way to find a good number of calories to eat that adjusts as your weight changes…How much protein are you getting?

Also you may want to look into using an online food tracking program to get a better sense of how many calories you’re eating and what the macronutrient breakbown is. I like www.thedailyplate.com. I don’t use it daily because I eat many of the same foods each day, but whenever I adjust my diet, I track what I eat for a few days to get a general idea of my new averages.

[quote]RSarin wrote:

Sounds like blast, best of luck to you. Once you get in the clear, start looking at what kind of leg mobility is safe for you.

[/quote]

Thats the funny thing… i have never lost mobility in my knee except the time when it just gave way under me. That was what started me off with the specialist in the first place. Even now, I have no problem with it except after a particular heavy shift at work when it is a dull ache.

[quote]RSarin wrote:

I’d get a second opinion, some doctors can be over cautious…It’s not like you have to squat with a heavy load, but rep for rep, the act of squatting will do more for your body than leg pressing for strength, stability, and energy expendeture.
[/quote]

[quote]RSarin wrote:

That’s a really big step and a great place to start.

Try eating 5-6 small meals a day. It’ll help you control your hunger so you’re not starving by dinner. Keep some healthy snacks handy to much on. Celery, raw spinach, and almonds are some of my personal favorites.[/quote]

I keep dried figs and pistachio nuts as a snack. My day meal schedule is breakfast, shake, light lunch, shake and finally evening meal with the family. On nights, I start with evening meal with the family, then a shake, light meal, shake and finally a fruit snack. if i have anything too heavy for the last meal of the night it will just be laying in my guts before i go to bed at 8am…

[quote]RSarin wrote:

1500 seems too low especially for your job. Tony Gentilcore’s “The Angry Trainer” has a good way to find a good number of calories to eat that adjusts as your weight changes…How much protein are you getting?

Also you may want to look into using an online food tracking program to get a better sense of how many calories you’re eating and what the macronutrient breakbown is. I like www.thedailyplate.com. I don’t use it daily because I eat many of the same foods each day, but whenever I adjust my diet, I track what I eat for a few days to get a general idea of my new averages.

[/quote]

With the two shakes a day I get 80-100 grams of protein without counting the stuff in the main and light meals.

going to have a look at that daily plate site…

i tend to eat the same sort of stuff daily too, with variaions to keep me interested in food rather than getting bored and giving up. My mindset is strong though. If I get Diabetes then I lose my truck licence. I lose my licence = I lose my job. Lose my job = can’t feed the family yada yada yada… you know how it goes.

your #4 needs to be your #1 .

everything else is minutia when compared to the smokes

I your timetable allows it maybe try some swimming? I’d say that’s about as low impact as it can get.

And congrats on trying to avoid the diabetis. A family friend got it and then came to the conclusion that maybe he should lose weight. It’s great that you realized earlier (even if it took your brother getting it).

It might intrest you to know that said family friend changed his diet around and started using the cardio rowing machine at his gym and lost a solid ammount of weight.

Another thing you might want to look into is how you can reduce the adverse effects of your job. IE do you lift properly? How is your posture when you’re sitting in your truck etc etc.

Yep, the smoking will have to go for sure.

Swimming is great, can go straight from night shift if I have to. Off days I can go during the day. At the moment the kids are learning to swim and the wife is booking lessons so she can learn. If we go as a family it means I can’t actually swim as I have to be with the kids… (7 and 8 year old girls…)

I will make time to swim, especially as the pool and the gym are in the same building!

thanks for the input so far guys… just having the responses is making me more determined to succeed.

just a quick update…

dropped the smoking from 20 down to 10 and i’m going to have to make another hole in my belt… this will be the 10th hole i’ve made in it. my waist has never been this small in many many years.

I’m going to have to get the wife to do some piccys for me…(of me, not the sort of piccys that I want to do of her!!) and to actually measure me properly…

[quote]Slamdog wrote:
just a quick update…

dropped the smoking from 20 down to 10 and i’m going to have to make another hole in my belt… this will be the 10th hole i’ve made in it. my waist has never been this small in many many years.

I’m going to have to get the wife to do some piccys for me…(of me, not the sort of piccys that I want to do of her!!) and to actually measure me properly…[/quote]

good job man!

great job so far man telling by your last post! Im trying to do a low carb diet and lose some unwanted poundage (20-30 lbs) tell me what you are doing to lose!

[quote]kickoutthejams wrote:
great job so far man telling by your last post! Im trying to do a low carb diet and lose some unwanted poundage (20-30 lbs) tell me what you are doing to lose![/quote]

well, low carb diet…

if i’m working nights it is something along the lines of…

family meal, low carb for me, plenty of veggies…
shake about 3 hours later…
low fat low carb meal again 3 hours later… that is usually 2 slices of rye bread, avocado and a tin of crab or tuna.
snack around another 3 hours later… fruit, 6 dried figs and a small handful of pistachios or almonds.

On day shift it is the same except i have cereal in the morning, no afternoon snack and a low carb family meal when i get home.

on my days off i start with cereals, shake about 3 hours later, nakd protein bar after the gym, shake about 3pm and family meal between 6 and 7pm, again low carb for me with plenty of veggies.

as a sideline, i bought a set of scales with a bodyfat percentage meter built in… after setting it up and trying it out it reckons I am still 33% bodyfat…

I really hate to think what I was 6 months ago… probably nearer 50%!

All of that diet is combined with at least 2 sessions at the gym every week, weights at home on the days I can’t get to the gym. I am lucky in a way because my job is fairly active so i get a fair ammount of cardio at work, More so if i push myself to actually work faster (double edged sword that… I don’t want them to think I’m rushing round and get them expecting me to be like that all the time!)

Even though I’m still smoking, I have noticed the difference. My arms are getting bigger, my knee hurts less than it used to, my waist has shrunk and I generally feel much much better. Certainly my strength has increased, I’m lifting 50% more weight on dumbells and barbells than I was when I started the diet and excersise regime.

Trade addictions. If you become serious about improving your body, the cigarettes will have to go-eventually.

Some of these posters will drag you down but most will support you. Seek out people locally who have the discipline that you need to develope and ask for help. Someone will step up and work with you. I’ve never seen lifters/bodybuilders who responded negatively to someone who asked for help and was sincere about adopting the advice that was given.

Keep at it. It will take years but it can be done. There are too many people who have changed their quality of life for you to believe that the same change is beyond your capability.

[quote]wqp3 wrote:
Trade addictions. If you become serious about improving your body, the cigarettes will have to go-eventually.

Some of these posters will drag you down but most will support you. Seek out people locally who have the discipline that you need to develope and ask for help. Someone will step up and work with you. I’ve never seen lifters/bodybuilders who responded negatively to someone who asked for help and was sincere about adopting the advice that was given.

Keep at it. It will take years but it can be done. There are too many people who have changed their quality of life for you to believe that the same change is beyond your capability.[/quote]

very true…

I am cutting down on the smoking… i will stop but as it has been a habit for many years it is taking time to stop completely.

as for help… I was really suprised with the guys down the gym. Total strangers have been really helpful. I know a lot of the regulars now and we all help each other out. I wish i could get a regular partner but my work hours don’t allow me to find a ‘normal’ partner. Workmates are not local to me or the gym so I can’t get someone else to join in from there. Also, my shift patern is constant but the other guys are on a variable ‘demand’ type shift pattern.

I know it sounds like self pity, but it isn’t, it’s realism. Either way, If I stick to my plan, keep my focus and take things in stages I WILL do this.

My stages as planned are…

Eat Right…
Lose Fat…
Stop Smoking…
Get Bigger…

Ok, maybe they aren’t in the right order for some people but again, I’m trying to be realistic… I can’t just stop smoking but I can eat better. Losing fat is partially a byproduct of eating right. My target is to stop smoking completely in the next 12 weeks. Again, realistic, as it is a gradual weaning process rather than cold turkey.

Getting Bigger will happen with work and effort. It has started to happen but I know any gains I have at the moment are not optimal gains due to the smoking, the high bodyfat etc…

As always, grateful for the replies and the advice and support.

[quote]Slamdog wrote:
wqp3 wrote:
Trade addictions. If you become serious about improving your body, the cigarettes will have to go-eventually.

Some of these posters will drag you down but most will support you. Seek out people locally who have the discipline that you need to develope and ask for help. Someone will step up and work with you. I’ve never seen lifters/bodybuilders who responded negatively to someone who asked for help and was sincere about adopting the advice that was given.

Keep at it. It will take years but it can be done. There are too many people who have changed their quality of life for you to believe that the same change is beyond your capability.

very true…

I am cutting down on the smoking… i will stop but as it has been a habit for many years it is taking time to stop completely.

as for help… I was really suprised with the guys down the gym. Total strangers have been really helpful. I know a lot of the regulars now and we all help each other out. I wish i could get a regular partner but my work hours don’t allow me to find a ‘normal’ partner. Workmates are not local to me or the gym so I can’t get someone else to join in from there. Also, my shift patern is constant but the other guys are on a variable ‘demand’ type shift pattern.

I know it sounds like self pity, but it isn’t, it’s realism. Either way, If I stick to my plan, keep my focus and take things in stages I WILL do this.

My stages as planned are…

Eat Right…
Lose Fat…
Stop Smoking…
Get Bigger…

Ok, maybe they aren’t in the right order for some people but again, I’m trying to be realistic… I can’t just stop smoking but I can eat better. Losing fat is partially a byproduct of eating right. My target is to stop smoking completely in the next 12 weeks. Again, realistic, as it is a gradual weaning process rather than cold turkey.

Getting Bigger will happen with work and effort. It has started to happen but I know any gains I have at the moment are not optimal gains due to the smoking, the high bodyfat etc…

As always, grateful for the replies and the advice and support.
[/quote]

Just remember that it won’t be a straight path. You will suffer setbacks. Just don’t let losing a battle convince you that the war is lost.

wqp3 wrote:
Just remember that it won’t be a straight path. You will suffer setbacks. Just don’t let losing a battle convince you that the war is lost.[/quote]

Your words are so true for everything in life.

If it were easy then everyone would just pop a pill, go to the gym once and look like an olympian! I’m sure with the support I’m getting here and at the gym as well as from my wife I can get through it. I am determined to make the changes in my life.

I’ve bitten the bullet…

I am booked for hypnotherapy to remove the cigarettes from my life. I have cut down a lot but i feel that the hypno will finally take away completely the urge to revert. so, the plan is now that on the 14th of feb i will be a non smoker.

I’m also pleased to say my total weight has dropped now to 15st 8lbs. My body fat has reduced but without any accurate way to tell i am hesitant to give real figures.

My body fat monitor scales say I’m down by 2% but as those things are not that accurate I will take that with a pinch of salt.