Getting in shape without a gym.
August 12, 2010 1:51 AM   Subscribe

I want to loose the fat tire around my belly but I'm having a few problems with: motivation, timing, diet, exercise plan, and a lack of a gym. I need a some serious self-motivation advice, and some tips on how to workout without a gym. Help a guy in his 20s get where he needs to be!

Sorry, this ended up being longer than expected...

I'm 23 years old guy who just graduated from college this past May. College obviously reenforced some of my worst habits over the past four years.

I'm 5ft 7in (170.18 cm) tall. I weigh somewhere in the range of 203-213 lbs (92-96.6 kg) depending on the day of the week it seems. I've always been a bit on the big side - or "obese" if BMI is any indication... which it isn't I know... I've decided that enough is enough: I'm frickin tired of being fat. I'm tired of feeling/being unattractive. Problem is I've unsuccessfully made this decision many times before. I'd love to loose 35+ lbs (16 kg) of fat but 25 lbs (11 kg) seems more realistic at this point.

I know many of the fitness tips, like taking in fewer calories than you burn is what looses weight, and that it's all about proper diet and exercise. They've been drilled into me by my very fit mother since I was little. And I've read at least some parts of a few reputable diet books. [Like the hacker's diet]. But knowledge in this case hasn't gotten me there.

My main problem (I think) is that I just don't enjoy working out. It's frickin boring! I feel somewhat better after the workouts - usually - but that never makes me want to do them. I think I need to learn a sport or something. I hated sports when I was younger, and now I've grown to regret it. The only thing I have kinda enjoyed lately is learning how to jump rope. I'm also buying a pedometer.

Oh, and the last challenge? In two weeks I head to Israel for ten months - a country full of beautiful people, in fantastic shape... because they all joined the military at age 18. I think that is really gonna mess with my confidence level.

So I guess what I'm looking for is:
- A LOT self-motivation advice.
- An exercise plan I can do without access to a gym - that is fun and I'll want to do. I won't be in major cities most of the time, so no gyms, no scales, no dumbbells, no mats. I will bring my jump rope and pedometer though.
- I've never been a runner, and I think it'd be awesome to figure out how to get myself to do this [couch to 5k running plan].
- Some suggestions on good short-term goals I should set for myself. So that I can have a sense of accomplishment. When I mean short term I'm thinking something I can see within a month - don't care what it is just something.
- I need a way to convince myself not to grab the cookie, or milkshake, or fries or hamburger. How do people actually get themselves to stick to a smart, sensible diet?
- How do people organize themselves to keep to a workout/diet schedule?

My overall goal is to get back from Israel in ten months and be happy with the way I look for the first time in my life. And to have the confidence that the some girl across the bar finds me as attractive as I find her.
posted by Political Funny Man to Health & Fitness (30 answers total) 56 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Also just realized... if I manage to loose one pound a week (as is the suggested rate). I'll be at my desired weight somewhere around my 24th Birthday in May. That'd be an awesome present MeFi if you can help me out!!
posted by Political Funny Man at 1:59 AM on August 12, 2010

No advice here, but I'm 26, and about the same sizeā€”and in the same boat. I'll be watching this thread.
posted by SansPoint at 2:00 AM on August 12, 2010

I came out of college, finally, in the worst shape of my life - just made a lot of sacrifices to do, at that point, the hardest thing I had ever done (graduate!). I went in at 145lbs, left at around 190lbs.

I can't say I'm currently in the best shape of my life - mostly from injuries, but far from the worst.

For me, I just started running and I discovered The Bicycle. I got rid of my car. I started going to the gym twice, then three times a week. I had a weird relationship with food when I was younger, so I slacked on diet - just ate when I was hungry and kept the food simple. I stopped thinking about vacations and started thinking about adventures - adventures that pitted me against large obstacles that needed great strength and endurance to get through. Thus, I had a reason for all this time in the gym and on the bike.

So... what's your lifestyle? To me, I found being in good shape made me feel better - what I looked like wasn't really important. Habits form quickly if you allow them - just start and keep at it - there's no magical training or diet anything. Diets, to lose weight aren't worth trying.

Do you have any really shitty habits? Do you drink? Replace the drinking with something just as addicting. Maybe that running you're thinking of. You'll kill two birds with one stone: you'll stop taking in empty calories, you'll stop sitting around, you'll be replacing one habit with another and you'll get off your ass.

If I have to point to any one thing that has helped me keep in shape, it's laying off the booze - after a while, training for endurance limits you on what you can do with booze. For example, I gotta get up at freakin' 3:00am to do this 20 mile hike up a 14'er on Saturday. Think I'm going to the bar on Friday? Forget it. I'm not even thinking coffee on Friday.
I guess all this babbling is to show you that: it's a lifestyle change - and a drastic one. You wanna be less boring and in shape? You gotta work it. You gotta put in your time. You got to find a reason to personally do whatever it is you wanna do.

Gyms are convenient, but also expensive. Start with pushups and pullups - anything. Maybe after a run. Get a goal of, I dunno, a marathon in 6 months, time unimportant. Kill it, dude!
posted by alex_skazat at 2:25 AM on August 12, 2010

Best answer: Personally, I think going to a foreign country for an extended period of time is an excellent way to kickstart changes in your exercise/diet plan. I personally have been in China for the last two months, and I've found that the difficulty of getting the normal fatty and junky foods I usually eat is very helpful in getting in shape. I don't know what Israel is like - but I imagine the diet is different enough so that you'll have to make frequent, specific decisions as to what to eat. Reaffirm to yourself your goal of having a healthier diet each time this happens.

The first month is the hardest - actually, the end of the first month. I think it's called an "extinction burst" (read about it on you are not so smart - That's when you'll crave some Mickey D's or whatever junk food you love. However, once you get past it, the craves pretty much go away. The first month I lived in China, I craved pizza and burgers sooo bad, but had no idea where to get them. This month, I know exactly where to get them, but I have no desire to - and on the rare occasions I do eat them, it's...not as good as I remember, cuz I don't really want it anymore.

Anyway! If you really focus on your diet for one month, I think it could be the most valuable thing you do...fixing your diet is really the number one thing to get in shape.

As for exercise, walk around a lot. Explore. Also, you could try out ultimate frisbee. It's fun, involves running (fortunately with a purpose), and almost always (at least everywhere I've been in the states and china) very welcoming.

Think about what you want people back home to say when you get back from your trip. Something like "Wow, you look great!" from a girl you like. That's a good motivator.

Enjoy Israel, and good luck!
posted by arkitex at 2:26 AM on August 12, 2010 [6 favorites]

- I need a way to convince myself not to grab the cookie, or milkshake, or fries or hamburger. How do people actually get themselves to stick to a smart, sensible diet?

Looking at this from the other direction, if you are eating cookies eat burgers and drinking milkshake then, sorry, you don't really want to lose weight. You're on the step before. How can you want to lose weight.

You need a feeling of progress and rewards. The rewards should come from the exercise, not be separate from the exercise. Keep a diary. Write down the achievements you made each day. Not eating a burger and a milkshake. Exercised for 30 minutes. There are websites where you can track your progress against others - maybe this will help you, maybe this will demotivate you - try it.
posted by devnull at 2:27 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Unfortunately if these things were easy no one would have to worry about exercise or proper eating - everyone would have bangin bods with no effort.

So the first thing to really come to terms with in your mind is that you WILL be hungry and you WILL be unhappy when working out and it won't usually be fun. There is NO way around this. What you need to think about at these times, though, is that having the body you want is more important. That is your motivation - at least that's been my motivation this last month, and I've dropped 10 pounds.

Really, that is the biggest motivation - personally I have looked up a person who has a body that I would like. When I feel like skipping on my exercise or overeating I say, "X wouldn't do this". Might not work for you, but it works pretty well for me (could be the Catholic guilts XD).

When it comes to eating - a recent study showed that what you eat matters more in terms of losing weight (although people who exercise are more likely to keep the weight off long-term) so that is probably where you want to concentrate right now. I think one of the reasons I eat too much is because making/obtaining healthy food is harder/more time consuming than getting unhealthy food. When I come home after work it's easier to open a bag of chips than to scrub and cut a carrot. There's no way around that but I've started putting time aside on Sundays and Wednesdays to chop up some snack food - carrots and celery usually, but also other fruits and veg, so when I get home I can just grab them. You may have the advantage in heading to Israel - crappy high-fat food may be more difficult to obtain. But whatever you do, don't go on one of those stupid high-protein diets. Your body can convert proteins to fat as easily as sugar. Will you have internet? To get an idea of what to eat, I used I don't use it anymore but it was good in the first two weeks, to get an idea of how hungry I should be feeling for my goals.

When it comes to your workout, I'm not sure - I think others will have better suggestions. I usually work with machines and freeweights. If you did want to try using weights at one point I just filled empty water bottles with sand and used them. Of course you don't need to use weights to get in shape - I personally just don't like push-ups. I think you hit that nail on the head though when you said you want it to be fun - what will be fun and what you'll want to do will really depend on YOU. It will vary - dancing is good (and women do love guys who can dance well), soccer's more intense, there are other games.... Will you be moving from town to town in those 10 months? Will you be with people you know? Working out with other people can help - maybe have some soccer games or something - when someone else is counting on you it can be motivational.

Personally I find satisfaction in my ability to do something more than the day before. If I fatigued after 20 reps yesterday but today I can push it to 25 - that actually makes me happy.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 2:28 AM on August 12, 2010 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Self-confessed lazy over eater here. Have lost 20 pounds in 7 weeks by doing the following.

1. Following a low-carb diet. No bread, no sugar, no rice, no pasta. Simply eating protein, green veg and berries. So fresh fish, chicken, broccoli, spinach, cheese, turkey, salads, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries etc. The high protein keeps me feeling full for longer so essentially my calorific intake has dropped dramatically and I don't even notice. Am probably on 1500 Kcals a day with no hunger pangs or sugar crashes etc. I kept a food diary to begin with until I got a handle on what my intake was. Their are a thousand sites dedicated to low carbing so go read up.

2. Drink nothing but water. No alcohol, juices, sodas. Just good old water and plenty of it. Just ditching the booze saves me hundreds of calories a week and I feel great without it.

3. Bought some good running shoes, signed up for a 5K race and downloaded the Get Running app for my iPhone. The Couch to 5K is excellent. I'm now running 30 minutes, 3 or 4 times a week having been unable to run 90 seconds a couple of months ago. The week in week out improvement is great to experience. The app tweets my progress and I get good feedback from a few other folk doing the course.

4. Also downloaded 100 Push Ups app and 200 Sit Ups app and followed their courses. Now up to 60+ push ups as day from 5 and similar sit up score. It's hard work but very satisfying watching your body take a bit of shape. One day I run, one day I do push ups and sit ups, every few days I have a rest day.

5. That's it!

I lost 6 or 7 pounds in the first week which, although very common, was a big motivator and I've lost weight steadily ever since. Still got 14 pounds to lose but look great, feel great, loads of energy etc.

I fill the refrigerator pretty regularly with stuff I can eat, only eat when I'm hungry and without all the carbs I just don't stuff myself anymore. Eventually I'll introduce complex carbs and the weighloss will level out but for now I feel healthy and it's working for me very well.

Take six weeks out of your life to focus on looking after yourself, you'll see the difference in half that time. Just do it!
posted by R.Stornoway at 2:33 AM on August 12, 2010 [26 favorites]

P.S. message me if you want to know more about any of the above. Happy to send you info on what i'm eating etc.
posted by R.Stornoway at 2:36 AM on August 12, 2010

I'm no great diet expert, and there are some that will be here soon I'm sure, but I weight fifty pounds less than I did two years ago, and did it more through change of attitude than any thing else. (also, I always thought of my self as fat, still do, but was a lot older than you before I got to your weight. That might mean something or not.).

Some people can lose weight by watching calories and using calculators and all that, I never could. I always got more exercise than some people because I liked to walk my dogs and work in the garden and build almost useful furniture; I wasn't desk bound even when I worked at a desk, but I'd then eat a lot more to make up for that exercise.

However, when I realized that carbohydrates, not calories, were the enemy, I began losing weight. I know, the experts will tell you that no carb diets are bad, and give false short term results, and they are right, but I'm not saying no carbs.

Look, they are everywhere! You walk down the street and breath them in. So you really don't have to go looking for them. At meals, avoid white stuff, potatoes!, rice, noodles, bread. You will still wind up eating carbs, believe me. And high card meals just make you hungrier (at least me they do), so work to avoid.

Look for proteins. They may seem less substantial, but they are really more filling. That doesn't mean just steak, but bean, fish (anchovies! about 100% protein 0cals; 0carbs). Peanut butter, the real kind without lots of sugar and stuff added. These are snacks.).

Vegies! I bet you don't eat very many now. Do you realize how good - how filling - a head of romaine is? Umnomnom! Yeah, really. Try it. Eat the vegies before you start on the rest of dinner. It can't hurt. Hey, fill up on vegies before you start dinner.

Don't ever, ever go into a grocery or convenience store when you are hungry!! (If you forgot to shop, go get a small snack, eat it in the parking lot, and then go in to do the rest of your shopping.) If you don't buy it you can't eat it; if you shop hungry you will buy lots of crap (at least, I did).

Also, a glass of wine (red) before I start to make dinner, moderates my appetite, but those do have a couple hundred cals, and that doesn't work for everyone.
posted by Some1 at 2:41 AM on August 12, 2010 [4 favorites]

You'll get some great advice, I've gotten in shape and its all been due to advice found on ask.mefi.

I'll just chip in with some links I've enjoyed recently that strike a cord with your questions - starting out, motivation, being good with food and having fun working out. On preview I realise that most of the links are Nerdfitness, Steve's been busy lately! All his workout videos are done in a park with minimal equipment so you may find them useful too.

Nerd Fitness: 43 ways to level up your life starting right now
Nerd Fitness: 22 fitness milestones to mark your journey from chump to champ
Nerd Fitness: lessons from a former fat guy
Nerd Fitness: how to fight your food addiction and win
Marks Daily Apple: Persistence hunting in the park
posted by Ness at 2:49 AM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Dance classes? Martial arts? Cycling? Skating? Rock climbing? There are many many activities that will bring you benefits that aren't workouts per se and have some kind of other appeal. No doubt many of them are available in Israel, maybe some that aren't available where you are now.

Apropos food -- there are fat Israelis. I know, I've seen 'em. But maybe, if you really like food, you should make an effort to eat local food and just be conscious about what you eat. Ingest strange fruit and vegetables and weird offal-rich meat dishes and don't have syrup-dosed pastries every day and walk wherever you can to do your culinary tourism.

I suspect that if you don't sit around all day and stay on your feet, that in itself will make a big difference. Sitting is bad. You use less energy and you snack mindlessly. Moving on your feet is good. You use more energy and you automatically have fewer opportunities to eat.

A change of country isn't necessarily a barrier to eating and moving differently. It can positively be just the break you need to rejig and review your old habits and acquire some new ones. Look forward to it and don't see it as a complication.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:56 AM on August 12, 2010

With regards to sticking to a diet/exercise, it's all about finding what motivates you. It doesn't have to be the same motivator in both cases either. In my case, for example, I found that caring about my physical health and appearance is enough for eating healthy, but that the only things that get me doing exercise is either doing something fun or being held accountable. Ok, so now the concrete suggestions:

Diet - Do NOT try to completely remove treats from your diet; it can make you resentful and lead to binging if you're having a bad day. Instead, replace unhealthy treats with healthy ones - e.g. instead of ice cream, I'll have a berry smoothie (antioxidants!) or do something like dip a banana in yogurt and freeze it. Rather than chips, I'll air-pop some popcorn; if I want chocolate, I'll buy only very dark and eat small pieces slowly over time, making it last a while (better dessert, though, it just some sweet fruit). Etc, etc. It's about substitutions. Also, avoid packaged food, but if you must, be sure to check labels. If somethings "low fat" it usually only tastes good b/c they replaced the fat with something just as unhealthy if not worse.

Exercise - Like I said, accountability worked for me. I had a personal trainer for a while, which was great; cheaper alternative is to have a blog where you keep track of your daily work, and that you publicize to everyone you know. It's also helpful in that it'll allow you to see your changes, which can also be a motivator. E.g. With running, you could test yourself every other day to see how long you can go without stopping before running out of breath; as time goes on you'll see that time rise=small accomplishment that will become a big one with enough time.

Fun Exercise - Classic is dancing; if you like video games, you could even play some Dance Dance Revolution. Another option would be volunteering with some youth leagues/just playing with kids (or with pets!). You'd kill 2 birds with 1 stone, helping others while helping yourself.

Sticking to a routine - Set aside a specific time for exercise, and do it - NO excuses (a la being absent from school - short of being on your deathbed, you needed to go in). That said, if you do miss a day, don't beat yourself up and completely lose the motivation to keep going. In the grand scheme of things, one day of relapse doesn't do too much harm, so long as it doesn't become a habit.

Phew, that was long. Hope it helps; feel free to memail me if you'd like more detailed info!
posted by Sakura3210 at 2:59 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have a success story that may or may not be helpful.
December 2008 I was 230 lbs, and then I started charting everything I ate in excel like

Food | Serving Size | Calories/Serving | Amount Actually Had | Calories

The last one is a function of the other ones so I didn't have to do the arithmetic over and over. I also had a calories consumed, a daily target, and then a "calories remaining". A lot of days that would be a negative number at the end, but I became dramatically more aware of what I was eating, and by the time I stopped doing it in May I was 175 lbs and had the experience of intimately knowing the caloric content of almost everything I was likely to eat, just from seeing it over and over.

The first month I did it without the target or calories remaining, just to count, and I rarely ventured over 2500 calories, just from being aware.

I had tried food diaries before, but just being aware that I ate six different items in a day that were each 400 calories didn't give me the same impact as seeing that I had eaten 2400 calories that day and I needed to be under 1800 to lose a pound a week.
posted by EtzHadaat at 4:40 AM on August 12, 2010

R Stormway's advice/tips seems pretty good.

Get out of the mindset of "I hate going to the gym so I'll never lose weight". Pounds are lost in the kitchen, not the gym, so it's no excuse. You need to eat better. Start tracking your calories. Fitday is one site that will let you do it, but there are others too. The Zone Diet has been interesting me lately - you might want to look into it.

Exercise is still a good idea. Like you I'm not a huge fan of weights, so I do mostly yoga and pilates. Yoga has the added bonus of making me a bit more aware of my body, so I feel even worse when I eat that cheeseburger and milkshake - it makes eating better a lot easier. I'd recommend a class for yoga, and then you could go on to DVDs at home or something. P90x might interest you too. Personally, I like recommending Body for Life to beginners, but most of their exercise stuff involves weights. Rock climbing is fun too.

Get a calendar, and every day that you eat right and exercise right (or at least in accordance with whatever schedule you've given yourself) put an X on it. Try and keep the chain of Xs going for as long as possible.

Despite magazines and commercials telling you that you can follow their plan and lose weight and get in shape easily, the truth is that you have to adjust your lifestyle to achieve those goals.
posted by backwards guitar at 4:50 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

I lost about 35 pounds this year using the LoseIt app on my iPhone. I have never been able to stick to an exercise regimen, so I almost exclusively did this through watching my calorie intake.

I found that just by having to keep track of everything I was eating (and I mean EVERYTHING) made me not only more aware of how many calories I was currently putting into my body (too many!!) but also made me think about whether a particular snack was 'worth' having to figure out the calories and write down (eg. "All this over an oatmeal cookie? I don't even like oatmeal cookies that much.").

People ask me if I got hungry or felt I was depriving myself and generally, I said no because there was nothing I completely stopped eating, I just had to make trade offs -- if I knew I was going to a restaurant that evening, I'd have a light lunch to 'save up' some of my daily calorie allotment. The only time I really felt like I was going nuts was when I was getting close to my goal weight and the calorie allotments were getting smaller & smaller, but at that point, my BMI was around 24, so I could take my foot off the accelerator a little.

The things people above have been saying about changing your attitude are on the mark. I would add to that advice what someone told me -- "Don't cheat a little so you won't cheat a lot." We have free snacks at work and before my diet I would always take a handful of cheeze-its or whatever and one handful turned to two turned to three, etc.
posted by Jugwine at 6:26 AM on August 12, 2010

My boyfriend--taller and not as heavy as you--lost 10 or 15 pounds simply by deciding never to drink soda again. Likewise, he gained at least 5 after leaving New York and having to drive instead of walk.

Little habits are important.
posted by the_blizz at 6:51 AM on August 12, 2010

Different things work for different people. I'm a horrible dieter, but started running and gave up drinking pop (also known as soda to many of you, Coke to fewer of you.) I found that as I slowly became a better runner, I was eating less. Almost all the same stuff, just less. I lost 40 pounds in a year and a half. I've kept it off for four or five years now with very little conscious effort. I still eat less and I still run, but I don't think of them as part of some weight loss plan. It's more like a simple part of who I am.
posted by advicepig at 7:07 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm in the same boat, but have not succeeded since I left college. That was 9 years ago, it doesn't get any easier. College left me with bad smoking and drinking habits, of which I finally just got over the smoking. I know alchohol is what is preventing me from making real progress. I'll eat healthy during the week just to erase my efforts on the weekend. .

While I have not succeeded as of yet, my current plan is making a game of the running bit . . using nike+ipod and a heartrate monitor to track progress.
posted by patrad at 7:08 AM on August 12, 2010

Different things work for different people. advicepig has sad a super, super true thing.
I have read enough AskMes on weight & fitness to know that there are many, many valid answers to to the question "what works?". The good news is, there's no *one* magic bullet so you are tied into just one solution. The bad news is, you may have a lot of trial and error before you figure out what is your thing.
As a recovering couch potato, I used to believe (and still hear a lot of people say) that getting fit/losing fat is very hard. I found that so discouraging and although I still think that's true, I also think when you find the right thing for you, it gets much , much easier and can even be FUN. I wish someone had told me along with the hard part that I might find something I loved.
For me, that thing is Crossfit, particularly because it includes a lot of strength training and weight lifting which I like because I find it fun and empowering. A bonus is that I want to be able to lift more weight so I do better at thinking of food as muscle fuel which makes it easier to shy away from junky, empty calorie crap. So for me, this works because I stick with it because it is enjoyable and the exercise I do makes me eat better. For other people, the eating might come first ("oh now that I am eating healthy, I feel like I could run! Maybe I will!") or another program might work whether it be an eating program/diet like WW or an exercise program like Boot Camp or Couch to 5k.
posted by pointystick at 7:34 AM on August 12, 2010

Focus on eating meat and vegetables. Avoid (non-leafy) carbs whenever possible. Drink only water or zero-calorie diet beverages. Write down everything you eat for at least a few weeks -- you don't have to use a web site or count up the calories, just write it all down.

Do all of the above six days out of the week. One day of the week, throw out all the rules and eat whatever you want.

This should be pretty easy to stick to. Exercise-wise, do whatever you want. Then when you're done traveling, join a gym and learn how to squat, deadlift, and press.
posted by JohnMarston at 7:38 AM on August 12, 2010

Best answer: People do many things to lose weight and/or get in shape, and what works for one person may not work for another person. So the #1 thing to remember is you have to find something that works for you, whether that's a specific diet like Atkins, generally counting calories, running marathons, joining a boot camp class, taking a walk after supper etc. And something that works at first may not work when you get bored of it, so feel free to find something new that works for you.

I'll tell you what's worked for me so far, and maybe some of it will be useful.

The thing that had the biggest impact on my fitness was realizing that if I don't like the activity, I won't do it. Some people may slave through unpleasant activity, but it drains me. That let me to stop running for fitness because I found running boring and difficult (I've since changed my mind). I lost at least 20 pounds when I stopped equating exercise with something I hated (running). Instead, I started taking boxing classes because, oddly, fighting is great fun. Later I took up canoeing as a hobby because paddling is meditative and seeing new places is fun. Then I bought some adjustable dumbbells and a chin-up bar and started doing workouts at my place in the morning because I like the boost it gave me.

The point I'm trying to make is: finding an activity that I like has always worked well for me. Maybe you'll find that you love running, but if you don't like it then you should feel free to investigate other options. Maybe hiking? Canoeing? Boxing? Water polo? Soccer? Rock climbing? Rowing? What you do for fun & exercise is entirely up to you.

If you choose to do some kind of formalized workout routine, since you don't like working out maybe you should limit yourself to no more than 50 minutes of working out. Then there's an end in site which helps you stick to it. You can plan how many exercises to do, for how long, and (the best part) how long your rests will be, and maybe it'll be easier for you to stick to your plan since you know when it'll end. If you go that route, here's an online workout timer that I like.

I think this was covered in other posts, but losing weight is all about calories. And no amount of exercise short of marathons will make up for constantly eating too many calories. Exercise makes you feel good, makes you less hungry (at least, it does that for me), and builds and tones muscle - basically, it supports a healthy diet. So be sure to make healthy eating part of the plan or else you'll end up a fit guy with the same spare tire you started with.

Finally, if appearances are a big concern for you, work with your body type instead of trying to look like Brad Pitt. I have broad shoulders and put on weight easily; as a result I've never had a six-pack, but I've been very happy with my appearance at times by being muscular. Instead of Lance Armstrong, think linebacker who's fun to cuddle with. I don't know how you're built, but if you accept how you're built and work with it your appearance and self-esteem will improve much faster because you'll dress for your body type and feel confident about your good features instead of focusing on the wrong features.
posted by Tehhund at 7:58 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Have you read Born to Run - it's inspired me to try running again (I've always been jealous of runners' ability to exercise anywhere, anytime).

Also - the thing that really feels great about exercise or diet is the part where you meet your goals. So, take a bunch of measurements (waist, chest, legs, arms, hips, weight, BMI, bodyfat etc), do some tests (how many push-ups/pull-ups/sit-ups can you do) and then set some goals. Then do your program for a week and lo and behold, you'll discover that you've lost an inch here or there, you've doubled your push-ups (how did that happen), etc.

Good luck.
posted by HopStopDon'tShop at 8:02 AM on August 12, 2010

I used to hate to work out. Hate, hate, HATE. I could limit my calories, but even so, being hypothyroid, losing weight was a bitch. I completely and understand when you say you find exercise boring. It used to drive me nuts when people would talk casually about running a 5K or whatever.

Here's what worked for me: The Wii and EA Sports Active. I really, truly, surprisingly, ENJOY working out now. It's fun! I have both the original Sports Active and the More Workouts version and I have done each of the "Six Week Challenges" on them twice now and I'm still going strong because it's varied, I can see the progress and I don't get bored.

I don't have any fancy equipment, like that Wii Fit balance board thing. The EA Sports Active comes with a simple rubber band and a velcro strap that goes around one thigh and that's all you need. You do everything from playing squash to paddling a raft to dancing and obstacle courses, with attractive scenery and music (you can create your own playlist but I just use the default music).

I did try a different Wii workout, by the way, and didn't like it. My sister uses the My Fitness Coach and I found it boring because it is just standard aerobics. But everyone's different, so if you try the EA Sports Active and don't like it (which would surprise me, but still), there are lots of other choices out there. And you can choose to do Dance, Dance Revolution or other Wii games if you want instead. You can even workout with a buddy with most of the them.

I also still track my calories over at Livestrong and their Daily Plate app is on my phone, though I usually just enter my calories on my laptop.
posted by misha at 8:27 AM on August 12, 2010

I mean this in a spirit of helpfulness: if you're doing internet searches about this, you'll get much better results if you search for "lose weight" and not "loose weight". I mean, you'll get hits for "loose" but they'll be poorly spelled hits.

Personally, I found moving to a new country (France, in my case) was a great way to lose weight - I walked everywhere to explore my new area, and exploring new foods meant I wasn't getting into a rut of eating too much of one thing. Go to Israel, enjoy all the new foods in small quantities, don't drink too much, have a good time and see what happens.
posted by altolinguistic at 9:12 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You've already gotten a ton of good advice above, so I'll just say again, find something you like and something you can live with. I love rock climbing, so I boulder, and I hate the gym, so I do Crossfit. It's fast, it works you like hell and each time it's different, so I don't end up bored with routine and splayed over a bench wondering where to buy a caramel-covered brownie afterwards. I'm so dead post-workout it's all I can do to crawl into the shower and not drown.

If you like the jump rope, keep up with that. Some boxing buddies of mine jump rope for 3 minutes (one round in boxing), do pushups for 3 minutes, jump rope 3 minutes again, do situps for 3 minutes and repeat for 30 minutes or so. They like it because it crams everything into a shortish workout and they like being able to hit things non-stop for ridiculous amounts of time. YMMV - point is, jumping rope is awesome, it's portable and small enough to take with you, and you can do it anywhere, so there's no excuse not to do it. Even if you're tired and think, 'I can only do 3 minutes today', get up, do it, and then try and go for another 3. And then another. Break it up into small intervals until you know you've pushed yourself.

For the pedometer, set yourself a step goal. Most people suggest getting to 10,000 steps a day, or about 5 miles or so. Doesn't matter what it is, really, but whatever it is, stick to it. Especially in Israel - I'm sure there's going to be lots of interesting and new things for you to see, so go out and explore, and the steps'll start adding up. If you're not used to walking for extended amounts of time, start slow, and wear good shoes.

Whatever happens, don't beat yourself down. If you eat too much one day or sleep through your workout alarm - you're human. Statistically speaking, it's gonna happen. That's all right. Get up and go do it, whatever you missed, or make time later in the day for it. Don't write the day off as wasted and throw all your plans out the window - I've done this by diving headfirst into multiple bags of chips and it'll do nothing but make you feel worse. Don't give up. Even if it's something small, keep doing it, and do a little more the next day, and the next, and do it for you, not for anyone else. Try not to get too down if you see a whole lot of 'beautiful people' around in Israel, too - we're all built different, and you don't have a drill sergeant barking at you to do twenty more pushups. There's no point in comparing and constrasting, because such situations aren't comparable, and it'll only drive you nuts.

Good luck!
posted by zennish at 10:54 AM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]

Logging and tracking everything (I use Sparkpeople and their iPhone app) helps me a lot. I mix using the Wii, drumming (playing 45 minutes of drumset burns a fair bit of calories), and chores around the house. Mowing the lawn, vacuuming, mopping, dusting - all of these can burn calories.
posted by BZArcher at 11:10 AM on August 12, 2010

Make a goal to walk on the beach in Israel in one month 10 pounds lighter. Weigh yourself everyday. I think if you just walked a lot you'd be on the right path.
posted by xammerboy at 11:25 AM on August 12, 2010

Response by poster: I may have marked too many of these posts as favorites, but your tips are so good it was hard to choose. So... Thanks! (@altolinguistic ... wow that's a hilarious mistake. And I've been editor for a school yearbook and newspaper before).

I like the idea of keeping track of calories - do all of you find doing it online is best?

Also what bodyweight exercise programs do you like? (besides the DVDs.. I'm looking into those).
posted by Political Funny Man at 12:06 PM on August 12, 2010

I'm on my way! Here's what I've done: I was 5'6" (female) and 210 and now I'm 175 just over 3 months later! I walked 4-5km every day and followed Whole 30 for about half of it. I'm still doing it and it's been awesome! Great support community.
posted by kch at 12:10 PM on August 12, 2010

Best answer: FitDeck is my go-to answer for people who want to work out, but can't have any equipment. It's a deck of cards with 50+ different bodyweight exercises on them; you deal some out to yourself, then follow the instructions on the cards. The game-like randomness of each workout makes it fun, and you can take the cards anywhere, so it's great for travel. They make booster sets you can get, also -- the Stairs pack might go well with the standard Bodyweight set, if you'll be staying somewhere with a stairwell or two.

Why not work through the Bodyweight set for 10 months, and then graduate to the Navy SEAL or Firefighter set just to stick it those who "all joined the military at age 18"!
posted by vorfeed at 12:16 PM on August 12, 2010

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