I have the summer free. I want to lose weight.
May 23, 2007 9:17 PM   Subscribe

I have the summer free. I want to lose weight. Much more inside.

I'm a 5' 9' male who weighs 237 pounds. I want to use this summer (until the first week of August) to get to a normal, healthy weight (whatever that may be), and perhaps use some of my fat to build muscle (focusing on the chest). My schedule is completely free.

Now, for the interesting thing and the heart of my question:

I have many exercise methods at my disposal. Help me organize these methods into an entertaining schedule for the summer that will accomplish my goals.

I have an olympic size pool (mornings are preferable)
A "Home Gym" similar to this one
A treadmill
A bicycle and the privilege to live relatively near downtown (4.2 miles)

Those are all the things I can do solo-- what say you Metafilter?
posted by time to put your air goggles on! to Health & Fitness (31 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Don't give yourself a time limit on getting healthy fit, and presumably in the process, lose some weight (likely in that order). These are lifetime goals. You are unlikely to lose more than 1-2 lbs. per week, and likely you'd like to lose more than that to achieve 'ideal' weight. So early Aug. won't get you all the way there.

Your opportunities listed look great. A bit of all? Whatever it is, pick a routine that you enjoy and can stick to, and use your time from now til august to get settled into that routine that you can stick with beyond august.

Good for you to dedicate some time/energy to get healthy!
posted by kch at 9:51 PM on May 23, 2007

For me, routine is key. Pick an activity, and commit to doing it, say, every MWF for 30 minutes. Don't give yourself an out.

If you can do it with a group, or a trainer, it will reinforce the commitment.

And remember, to lose weight, calories out must exceed calories in. Try to limit desserts, snacks, etc, and adopt a few healthy eating habits. Make a game of portion size - split everything. Forget about diets, they don't work.

And kudos for working towards a healthy lifestyle. The rewards are many.
posted by jpmack at 10:40 PM on May 23, 2007

I'll echo what kch said. Don't rush it. At the best, you'll lose a little extra weight and be exhausted all the time. At the worst, you'll burn out and regress.

Secondly, I wouldn't worry too much about building muscle at first. Concentrate on cardio (I recommend swimming especially), and as the fat disappears, more muscle definition will naturally show. The kind of anabolic pressure that heavy weight lifting puts on your body tends to make you less prone to losing weight in general.

Congrats on the resolution! The hardest part is walking out your front door.
posted by aliasless at 10:47 PM on May 23, 2007

err, anaerobic pressure. Oops.
posted by aliasless at 10:54 PM on May 23, 2007

Its simple. Limit your calories in. Maximize your calories out. Your spare pounds will fly off.

It doesn't matter how much free time or what equipment you have if you're gobbling down a large pizza and six pack every night you'll never loose weight or tone up.

You already know what to do. Skip the fast food and snacks. Swap the slice of pizza for grilled chicken. Eat more salad. Stop drinking anything that isn't H20 (although some beverages like Gatorade are okay, but mind the sodium.)

You have a lot of options regarding exercise. Figure out what machine or routine you like the best and work your way up quickly to an intense 30 or 45 minute workout every other day. It'll take a few weeks but if you stick to it you'll reach a good level where you can comfortably work out and see results.

At your height and weight (assuming most of that is fat) you need to focus on loosing weight and slimming down. Building muscle is complicated and requires practice, patience, and study. Hold off on that for now and just work on getting the weight off.

If you work hard you can realistically loose 10lbs a month and keep it off. By the end of the summer you'll be significantly trimmer to the point where you'll have to buy new pants. Hang in there and good luck!
posted by wfrgms at 11:08 PM on May 23, 2007

Oh, I just want to say that one of the things that worked for me was accepting the fact that you have to deal with hunger. It's the natural state. This requires being disciplined in your eating. Set rules for yourself like no food after 6pm. Sometimes that means you'll go to be hungry, but its not like you're going to starve to death. When in doubt drink water and eat an apple. Slowly.
posted by wfrgms at 11:12 PM on May 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

Eat the same amount of food you eat now, but avoid the following at all costs:

- Enriched flour
- Partially Hydrogenated and Hydrogenated oils
- Corn Syrup

Also, when you can, pick breads and other staple foods that don't have sugar as a listed ingredient.

Even if you take in the same number of calories, doing so without the above ingredients these days will significantly limit your food options (at least in the US) to foods that are healthier in general. That doesn't mean the food won't be good, either, although it may be more expensive -- we eat cookies and donuts in this household that are better than the crap ones, and a lot more healthy as well.

Best of all, you'll have more energy in general, and (if you start eating more protein to make up for the drop in processed sugars) that energy will be available to you for longer periods of time with no sugar crash. That means easier and more effective workouts for you, and you'll make progress more rapidly.
posted by davejay at 11:14 PM on May 23, 2007

"and a lot more healthy" -- I win the grammar rodeo!
posted by davejay at 11:15 PM on May 23, 2007

I lost 50lbs over 6 months by limiting caloric intake to 1500-2000 kcal/day and getting a good hour+ of exercise at least 5 days a week.

It doesn't matter what you, when you do it, but the important thing is to PACE YOURSELF.

Don't try to lose the weight all at once. Just think of healthy habits you will need to be developing to KEEP the fat off.

10lbs / month is the absolute maximum you should shoot for. When you lose too fast you also lose a LOT of muscle.

Just remember that 1 lb of fat on your body is about 3500kcal of energy you're going to have to burn without eating. 2lbs/week is 7000 kcal, or 1000kcal per day.

John Walker's Hacker's Diet is a good read.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:15 PM on May 23, 2007

Oh, one more thing: you say you have the summer free, and that's great for having time to exercise, but it's also great for you being bored a lot and eating as something to do.

So, in addition to an exercise program and my other advice above, get busy with something that allows you time to work out, but not a lot of time to sit around looking for things to do.
posted by davejay at 11:16 PM on May 23, 2007

Eat less.
posted by caddis at 11:25 PM on May 23, 2007

Body For Life. Ignore all the stuff on the site about buying protein supplements, you don't need those if you eat high protein, low carb food (lots of fish, chicken, vegetables). The book is really good, well worth buying, and there's a lot of great advice on diet and exercise on the website.

It's a good kickstart to a fitness regime. I lost weight and toned up quickly on it a few years ago and plan to start the 12-week challenge (.pdf) (not entering the contest, just for myself) after I get back from my holiday in mid-June.
posted by essexjan at 11:34 PM on May 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

Cycling is almost as fun as sitting on a couch and playing video games. Avoid hills, they sap motivation and exhaust you. What you need are steady and easy going rides of increasing duration, everyday.

Join a cycling club or do it with a friend to stay motivated over the summer.
posted by BeaverTerror at 11:41 PM on May 23, 2007

Exercise is important, but your number one priority is calorie consumption. Focus on your food intake. Some rough guidelines:

1) Stop drinking sodas. Replace it with water. A big part of Americans' obesity is due to soda addiction.
2) Eat your veggies.
3) Eat fish (if you can).
4) Avoid fried foods. No more deep fried Twinkies.
5) Avoid anything with high fructose corn syrup (see #1)
6) Stay away from the carbs, until you get an exercise regimen going strong and you actually need them. That big plate of spaghetti is good only if you exercise it off the next day.
7) Occasionally breaking any of these rules is OK. Enjoy your favorite junk food once a week or so.

I second The Hacker's Diet. It's got all of this stuff and a lot more. Gambatte!
posted by zardoz at 12:29 AM on May 24, 2007

exrx.net is worth a look for exercise advice
posted by Touchstone at 1:00 AM on May 24, 2007

How about getting some panniers and doing some long-distance biking, building up to a multi-day trip right before your August deadline? You should be able to work up to 50 or 60 miles a day in this timeframe, which means you could travel several hundred miles in a week by the end. Is there some really neat destination within a few hundred miles of your home? Think how awesome it would be to get yourself there on your own power!
posted by wyzewoman at 4:26 AM on May 24, 2007

I'm in the process of getting back into an exercise routine myself, and here are a few things I've noticed (which may not apply to you, but anyway):

- Fat Wars helped me a lot -- it's not a fad diet or anything, it just explains what makes your body gain and lose weight in a way that's not overy boring or dumbed-down. Basically, you want to eat a lot of lean protein, whole grains, and veggies; drink lots of water; and take in less than you burn. It also explains very well why weight training ought to be part of your routine as well as cardio: weight training builds muscle, which increases your metabolism so you're burning more calories even when you're not working out. No, none of this information is anything new, but I found the book to be very motivating and I like having all that information in one handy little volume to refer to (and it also gives concrete suggestions for workout routines and so on, which I also found useful to jump-start my routine).

- FitDay is a good way to keep track of what you're eating -- if you start writing down what you eat, there's a good chance (like me) you'll be surprised at how much you eat that you don't mentally count. It's way easier to see the calories in < calories out equation in action when the amount of calories you take in is actually what you think it is!br>
- It usually takes me about a month to see any sort of weight loss -- even a pound. So, when you start your program, promise yourself you'll give it a month, no matter what, and don't expect to see any results before then. I find it's easier not to get discouraged when you have realistic expectations.

- If you can make yourself accountable to someone (a friend or a spouse for example) to work out -- i.e., have a friend call you when you're supposed to start your workout -- it makes getting over the hump a lot easier. Even better: do you know someone who could be your workout buddy? When I had a standing daily appointment to meet a friend at the gym, it was hands-down the best way to stay motivated and we both got in great shape that way. (And then both of us moved... sigh.)

- It really helps me to keep a calendar on the fridge (or someplace prominent) where I can give myself an X for every day I work out. This not only gives me an easy way to see how well I'm sticking to the routine, but eventually the little Xs on the calendar are motivation on their own to work out ("I don't feel like working out... but if I skip tonight I'll only have four Xs this week!").

- davejay's advice is very good, in my experience: if you have a lot of time off it is very easy to keep snacking and putting off working out because there's nothing to structure your time. I wonder if you wouldn't be able to get a no-brainer part-time job somewhere (maybe with an employee discount that you could use?) and put the money into few sessions with a personal trainer or a nutritionist or something else that will keep you motivated. (Another one of my mental hangups is that I'm more likely to follow through with something if I've spent money on it -- that might work for you too.)

Well, that was a fun little tour of my exercise neuroses. You really can do this, though -- it might be hard at first, but if you stick it out you will see results. Good luck!
posted by AV at 4:38 AM on May 24, 2007

First up - ignore all the 'cut out carbs' rubbish - it makes no biological or nutritional sense and is incredibly bad for your long term health - even Atkins wasnt stupid enough to suggest a completely carb-free diet. 100 calories is 100 calories whether it comes from fat, protein or carbs, the only difference is the nutritional value. Weight loss is as simple as calories in - calories out. Whats important is to keep your calories out high by excercising and getting enough food. If you severely limit your calorie intake, you will reduce your metabolism and it will all be for naught.

Carbs are GOOD, they are not evil, but you have to choose the *right* carbs. You want starchy complex carbs not simple sugars.
Plant carbs are great because they are extremely low calorie for their bulk, on these kids of foods, most people will be full before they can exceed their calorie needs. High fibre carbs are particularly good - they keep your digestive tract clean by absorbing water and toxins and because they're indigestable you cant convert all the calories into energy. High fibre complex carbs are slow release energy - no sugar crash.
You still need protein and fat though - just not as much as most people eat (or would like to think they need) Dont ever try to cut out fat entirely from your diet - some vitamins are fat soluable not water soluable.

You do NOT have to go hungry. Eat as many vegetables as you like, the net calorie gain (after burning calories though digestion)will be negliable (if any)

If you drink alcohol the easiest way for you to lose weight is to stop or switch to lower calorie spirits like vodka or tequilla if you cant give up drinking.

Losing weight doesnt have to be no fun though, if you want cake, have cake (assuming you're not making your diet up entirely of cake and other low nutrition foods) as long as you dont go over your calorie need for the day. Though you may find that cake leaves you hungry and unsatisfied when it means theres a big filling bowl of pasta you cant have.

With excercise - dont overdo it. Swimming is great because its low impact. I would start with 60 minutes swimming every morning (if you can manage it) It works your whole body without putting undue stess on it.
I'd avoid the running for now - you dont want to get impact injuries in your joints that could put you out of the excercise game all summer. If you can manage it, try for 20 minutes strength training on alternate days, more muscle means more calories burned just by being alive. But dont overdue it and let your muscle heal up between sessions - if you're sore then take a day off. Your long term health and fitness is FAR more important than losing a few extra pounds a month.

Try to reduce your calorie intake by 500 per day and increase your output (ie excercise) by 500 per day and you should lose around 2lbs per week of body fat. (Diets that promise much faster weight loss are gimmicks - its water loss that makes up the majority of weight loss, along with more muscle loss than is normal for a healthy diet)

FWIW, IANA Weight management consultant (yet) but I am training to be one.
posted by missmagenta at 5:25 AM on May 24, 2007

I'll second the not going hungry thing. If you're hungry, eat.

Just stop eating the instant you're not hungry.

I also am a big fan of non-exercise activity thermogenesis.
posted by cashman at 6:30 AM on May 24, 2007

I've lost about 80lbs since august 2004. Things I did:
- stopped drinking recreationally
- stopped drinking pop
- try to eat only low GI foods (see GI Diet)
- started biking everywhere
- started growing some of my own food
- learned to absolutely love vegetables

I've been hovering around 200lbs since last november, but I'm really building muscle mass now, since I'm playing rugby again. Since you have a lot of spare time, I'd look into getting into a team sport of some sort, it can be motivational. As someone already mentioned, your spare time could be a hinderance if you're not careful.

The GI diet is basically just "eat whole grains, lean protein and keep the processed junk to a minimum", it's easy and not really a diet per se, but more of a plan for how to eat for the rest of your life. I never went hungry or had any problems with energy levels.

Try to remember that it's completely possible to achieve your goal, when I was 280lbs there was no way I could have possibly imagined myself where I am today.
posted by glip at 6:36 AM on May 24, 2007

Since you have the summer free, why not do something that's more time-intensive than simply eating well and going to the gym (things that anyone can do even without a free summer)? Such as, learning how to kayak or rock climb, hiking/backpacking on the weekends with the goal of tackling a good chunk of the Appalachian or Pacific Crest Trails, or building a house with Habitat for Humanity. If you learn a new skill that's physically demanding, but a lot of fun, you won't mind the effort required to get into shape nearly as much, and you'll find yourself getting better much faster.

For example, I hate to work out, but I love to play soccer, mountain bike, and ski. I grew tired of sucking at those things because I was too out of shape to do them properly, though. So I started running regularly -- if I'm going to suck at something, it's because I'm no good at it, not because I have trouble physically attempting it. Working out still bores me, but the returns in things I do like have been more than worth it. (I wish I had enough free time to cut out the workouts and just backpack a thousand-mile long trail.)
posted by J-Train at 7:27 AM on May 24, 2007

You have a terrific goal and you have a lot of terrific advice on how to reach it. One thing I think is important to think about is what happens at the end of summer? No matter how much weight you lose and how much you exercise over the next 3 months, if you go back to having no time to exercise and grabbing unhealthy lunches because you didn't take the time to make something healthy, you're going to put the weight right back on. So another one of your goals should also be figuring out an exercise routine and a diet that you can maintain after summer's over. It's essential for keeping the weight off. Good luck!
posted by boomchicka at 7:32 AM on May 24, 2007

Use all the extra time to make sure you get a lot of sleep between workouts. This will help you recover so you're not sore and tired all the time.
posted by mingshan at 8:59 AM on May 24, 2007

In the ~10 weeks between now and the first week of August, most experts will tell you that with proper diet and a good exercise plan, you can healthily lose somewhere between 10 and 20 pounds. You can also make significant strides towards building a sustainable lifestyle that will improve your long-term health and put you on the path towards your longer-term weight and health goals.

You've gotten a lot of really good advice above, but the one thing I would really stress is not to overdo it and not to put too much pressure on yourself. Don't think of this as THE SUMMER I'M GOING TO GET IN GREAT SHAPE AND BE TOTALLY RIPPED!! It's not going to happen. No matter what you see on TV, you're not going to drop 50 pounds in the next 10 weeks. And if you go into this with unrealistic expectations, you're more likely to quit and see no results at all. But you could, for example, master the famous Couch-to-5K Running Plan, which will turn you into the sort of person who runs, which will make it possible for you to get to a "normal, healthy weight" over the next 6-12 months.

Use this time to develop healthy habits, and those habits will get you where you want to go. If you think of this as "the summer I'm going to lose the weight," you're going to be disappointed, and that makes you more likely to fail. Realistic goals, like dropping a few pounds and getting into a routine, make you more likely to succeed.
posted by decathecting at 9:19 AM on May 24, 2007

I have a free summer and a bunch of weight to lose as well, wanna be online exercise buddies? My email's in my profile.
posted by arcticwoman at 9:55 AM on May 24, 2007

I CHANGED my diet about 3 years ago. (If I was talking about my cats diet you wouldn't ask me oh how did that go? No you would just assume that if the cat wasn't eating that, it was something healthier not the same shit again but I'm on my soap box and I digress.)

It's a GI based kinda thing blah blah pick one whatever. The crux of it is that it is a week by week frame of mind and it's not hard. During the week follow the rules. On the weekend if I want something on the 'NO' list pfft on the weekend I can have it. You can't cram 5 days into 2. Your tastes begin to change anyway. Your body no longer sees that crap as food... The best thing is you may have a bad week, you screw up, no worries because it all resets on Monday anyway.

Basmati rice is the next best thing to Brown rice and it's awesome. Low fat means extra sugar and Low sugar means extra fat as a rule of thumb. Aspartame is truly just poison!! Trust your instincts and your tastes. Take snippets from all logical and suitable thoughts and theories.

You would probably find Yoga beneficial too. (Even that program that was or is still on The Lifestyle Channel was not bad at all) Make sure it's Yoga not Pilates. I found during Pilates my breathing was opposite what it should've been 100% of exercises and spent 100% of my concentration trying breathe in an unnatural manner and benefited about 0. Not recommended.
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 11:27 AM on May 24, 2007

It sounds like you've had access to all of this exercise equipment in the past too, but haven't made use of it. It's great to plan to start using it, but a good question is why haven't you already been doing this? If it's a will power thing, or a laziness thing (as opposed to an 80 hour work week thing) you should really look into finding a good group exercise class or two that you will enjoy enough to attend regularly.

Getting active after a period of non-activity is hard, and for a lot of people it's even harder to push yourself as hard as you really can. Classes, training buddies, or hiring a trainer to keep you on track can he a big help, even if they do cost some money.
posted by nerdcore at 11:33 AM on May 24, 2007

I know you specifically mentioned things you can do solo in your question but, as other people have said already, that gets boring and it's hard to keep any kind of motivation. I personally find large amounts of exercise for its own sake to be incredibly dull, too, so I'll suggest something that worked for me -

Someone above suggested Habitat for Humanity; I'm not familiar with them, but I've spent time planting trees and clearing old fences for an environmental charity, and working on a sail training ship. Midsummer isn't the ideal time to be planting trees so that's out, but there may well be environmental charities, either local where you live, or somewhere you'll be living on site for a while, looking for volunteers to lay paths, build walls and so on. It's real, hard, physical work that will develop muscle and change your body shape for the better (for me it was more 'hey! look at my arms!' and 'my trousers fit differently!' than actual immediate change in numbers); maybe something to do after a couple of weeks of cardio training.

Money's more likely to be an issue for sail training, those ships are expensive to run, but there should be *something* you can do. Don't worry about going out and meeting new people, all sorts of people do either of these activities for all sorts of reasons, not just superfit outdoorsy types - in fact, mostly not superfit outdoorsy types (beware of nurses though, for they are scary and will drink you under the table).
posted by Lebannen at 1:41 PM on May 24, 2007

I have lost an average of 1.5 pounds a month for the past two years. I know you want to lose faster than that, but I hope these suggestions will help:
-When you use the treadmill, you have to have music.
-Swimming is great for fitness, but it doesn't take off much weight. So do other things as well.
-Once you lose 12-15 pounds, other people will start to notice. Until then, expect to feel somewhat discouraged. Your efforts will pay off, though.
-It doesn't take a huge calorie deficit to lose weight slowly, and slow weight loss is the only kind with any chance of lasting. On the other hand, it only takes an extra 100 calories a day to put on 10+ pounds a year.
-Have ready-to-eat healthy stuff in the house: cut-up vegetables, fresh fruit, whole grain cereal and skim milk, fat free yogurt, cooked chicken breast....and don't keep the things that you tend to chow down on, be they sweets, white bread, or snack foods. I'm not saying to avoid that stuff entirely, just don't let it hang around and beckon you.
-Quit eating even before you're full. You can eat more later. And try eating more frequently. For me, it's good to have half a sandwich at 11:30 and the other half at 2.
-If you go out to eat, order what you normally would order, but eat only 2/3 the amount you normally would. As soon as your plate arrives, decide how much you will eat.
-The first couple of weaks of limiting your eating are very hard, and you will think about it constantly. After that, it will get a lot easier.
-I tell myself daily: If you're not a little hungry, you're eating too much. We got fat because for us, that feeling of satiety never comes until after we've had too much.
posted by wryly at 2:54 PM on May 24, 2007

"First couple of weaks" -- heh, appropriate.
posted by wryly at 2:56 PM on May 24, 2007

I was just about your size, 5'9 or 5'10, but I was 250lbs.

I lost about 50 pounds over a years time, with alot of my fat weight turning to muscle weight.

Basically what I did at first was pretty radical, I lifted weights, and cut back DRASTICALLY on my calorie intake, probably to 1250 or 1500 a day, while exercising. I lost 20+ lbs in the first 2 months, and gained a bit of muscle. I pretty much did low carb, low fat, high protein.

I think what has helped thus far has been monitoring what I eat, purchasing foods for my home that I can't snack on or that I can't *eat with my hands*. Essentially avoid candy, frozen foods that are simple to make and unhealthy, or calorie laden drinks.

My approach is that I make the bulk of my meal exactly what I want to eat, or I find a way to make what I want but make it more healthfully. For example

-If I want a steak, I eat steak (but not ribeye). I don't eat a steak with a baked potato with butter, bacon, and cheese, with a million other sides. Maybe some green beans or something.
-I make alfredo with fat free cream cheese (4g protein, 2g carbs, per serving), skim milk, and 3 tablespoons of parmesan cheese. So for one *real* serving of alfredo like this, it may be like 300 calories, with at least 20g of that being dairy protein. Throw in a 3oz serving of frozen chicken strips and 1/2 a cup of pasta and its like 550 calories for a big meal that is really high in protein (probably like 40+ grams).
posted by mhuckaba at 4:27 PM on May 24, 2007

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