Looking for fitness/exercise related websites, books, mag's
May 13, 2008 2:24 PM   Subscribe

I want to work out, but I know nothing about fitness or exercise. Recommend me some of your favorite websites, books, magazines.. anything that would help out a fitness fledgling.

I've finally decided that I wanted to lose some pounds and get fit. A friend recommended the "Power 90" program, which is something I feel that I can commit to long-term. I'm considering taking supplements suggested by Beachbody (where I purchased the program), but I'm pretty clueless about all of this. Heck.. the last time I did any sort of exercise was in middle school!

So hive-mind, recommend me some sites, books, magazines.. anything that would help out a fitness fledgling.
posted by Sufi to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
It's pretty simple, if you're looking to lose pounds:

If your calories in is less than your calories burned in a day, you'll lose weight. Before you get involved in some gimmicky plan, just do 10 or 15 or 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise every day, or every other day. It's really that easy. Keep at it, track your caloric intake, and you will see gradual results, but they will be real results, not the gimmicky stuff that they sell on TV.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 2:46 PM on May 13, 2008

I've recommended this here before, so at the risk of repeating myself, I think this is a very good book. I use it myself and it's really a sensible look at diet and workouts with a practical examples of both. It's aimed at a beginner which almost what I was when I started using it.
posted by ob at 2:55 PM on May 13, 2008

i really enjoy www.crossfit.com has some great information on diets, but they are huge on the zone diet over there.

I have tried many types of programs but found the crossfit system the best in terms of keeping it exciting and different.

At first glance the workouts can seem a little tough but you can always reduce them down a little until you gain strength
posted by moochoo at 3:01 PM on May 13, 2008

if you eat a balanced diet, you shouldn't need any supplements beyond maybe a multivitamin and a calcium/vitamin d supplement if you're female. all the other stuff probably won't hurt, but probably won't help either. a good rule of thumb is to track all the food you eat in a week (be honest--snacks and all) and then add up the calories. subtract 3,500 calories a week to lose a pound a week. that's 500 calories a day. it's easiest when you do it by cutting 250-300 calories and burning 200-250 calories with exercise. as you get more fit, you can start burning more calories in your workout and cutting fewer from your diet.

my sister, for what it's worth, lost 40 pounds simply by cutting all sugared drinks out of her diet. ymmv.

others can advise you on fitness; in my experience, having a gym buddy really did make a difference. i am generally an independent person, and my gym buddy and i didn't really hang out at the gym and do everything together, it was just the social pressure of having to meet her there that motivated me when otherwise i wouldn't have gone.
posted by thinkingwoman at 3:40 PM on May 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

This site has been going about 8 years strong with all kinds of info.

Good Luck!
posted by P.o.B. at 4:09 PM on May 13, 2008

To quote myself
I'm currently using The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding : The Bible of Bodybuilding, Fully Updated and Revised. I recommend to get a copy and read through all the stuff that isn't just a technical guide to specific exercises. It's certainly helped me with my goals (losing weight and gaining strength) and you should be able to use the ample information in there to build your own routine.
I've also recently purchased a bike and Wii Fit.
posted by krisjohn at 4:29 PM on May 13, 2008

I'll put in a plug for www.sparkpeople.com.

I have a deep-seated distrust of "the diet industry", and a lot of stuff out there in the field of fitness is, in my opinion and experience, ignorant and full of crap. In contrast, sparkpeople really impressed me as being sensible and helpful to people *all over the map* in terms of fitness. The site as a whole lot of useful info and tools. It's also completely free.

Using its diet and exercise tracker I lost about 35 lbs last year. Definitely helped me improve my fitness--last August I did my first sprint-distance triathlon (but not my last!) and I've gotten demonstrably more fit since then, even as my weight has stayed the same.
posted by Sublimity at 5:11 PM on May 13, 2008

Best answer: Do not get any supplements. Do not pay money for a workout plan, a diet book, or the quick and easy method to lose 15 lbs in 15 days. The information you need is publicly available, it's free. You just need to find it, read it, and then do it.

exrx.net has descriptions of all of the major (and minor) weightlifting exercises with a nifty animated GIF for each one showing the movement. It's also got a lot more than that, too: BMI and body fat calculators, dieting tips, injury prevention info, etc.

I am a huge fan of John Stone Fitness. Take a look at what the man did, it's simply mindboggling. He has a very straightforward and non-gimmicky approach to fat loss and fitness. He's also not shilling any products, no DVDs, no pills, no exercise equipment. He's just a guy posting everything he knows about fitness: eat right, exercise, etc., etc.

I'm a semi-regular poster on the JSF forums, for what it's worth. Do stop on by. The sticky posts at the top of each of the forums are pure gold. Those handful of posts have all of the information you'll ever need. The JSF community is one of the friendliest on the 'net. Really nice folks, and really knowledgeable. It's like the AskMe of fitness.

Also if you want, you can MeMail me. I love talking fitness. For what it's worth, I've lost 70 pounds in the last two years and have gotten pretty trim and fit-looking. Those are my "qualifications" for recommending the site, I suppose... :-P
posted by Khalad at 5:57 PM on May 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

The Hacker's Diet is a popular favorite. Smart Exercise by Covert Bailey's not too shabby, and it does a good job of clearly explaining the simple mechanics involved.
posted by spiderskull at 7:09 PM on May 13, 2008

I found that a personal trainer for a few sessions helped a lot. I am somewhat poor at knowing how my body is oriented, and even with book photos and a mirror, I often had bad posture during some exercises. That led to nasty pains and aches.

The trainer can teach you a proper form and is there to make sure you keep it. Also my trainer can, and does, push me much farther than I typically pushed myself. Oh yes, and she makes me keep the evil food journal. Those fries staring at you? Really remind you of what pain the trainer puts you through to get rid of them.
posted by Yavsy at 8:23 PM on May 13, 2008

Your local YMCA may have a very good -- and free with membership -- program you can check out; it's something I'm doing now.

It's designed to ease you into a regular exercise program, but encourages you to do so on your own power. You have an initial meeting with a personal trainer who discusses your goals, and then recommends a simple fitness regimen for you. You commit to coming to the Y 3 days a week for the next 4 weeks to work out and follow that regimen -- and you can schedule those 3 days any way you like. Then you have a second meeting with the trainer to review your progress and update your regiment. Another 4 weeks of 3-days-a-week, then a third meeting, another 4 weeks, and then your final meeting. By that time, the theory goes, you'll have made 3 days a week a habit, and you'll have had just enough supervision to ensure you know what you're doing but you'll also be used to doing things on your own.

This was perfect for me -- I like the independence and flexibility, but I also appreciate having some coaching so I know exactly WHAT to do.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:53 AM on May 14, 2008

I've lost 55 pounds since April 2007. The Hacker's Diet (previously mentioned) was very inspirational. Geckwoistmeinauto & thinkingwoman cover the basic points on diet particularly. With most food, it's about portions, portions, portions. I also personally found that it helped to not declare ANY food off-limits as long as I kept within my calorie range. That kept feelings of deprivations at bay. (I know the approximate calorie counts of everything on the kids' menu at McDonalds.)

For exercise, I increased the amount of walking that I was doing, and I added bicycle commuting. If this is at all an option for you, I highly recommend it. Bike commuting is exercise that is part of your regular routine, not a separate activity. Earlier this year I also took up yoga via a class at work, which is helping a lot with balance & flexibility. I'd like to add weight training, but haven't quite gotten to it. :) I read The New Rules of Lifting for Women from the library, and might pick up a copy of my own.

Lots of people recommend Couch to 5K -- I know a woman through physicsdiet.com who is over 300 pounds and can now run 25 minutes straight. (My personal "OMG I'm in better shape!" moment came when I could run a block flat out to catch a bus.)

I track my weight, and get good support in the forums, at physicsdiet.com. When I track calories, I use The Daily Plate. And I track my biking at We Endure. (There's a MeFi group that has ongoing challenges!)

Also: don't overdo it right away! Be moderate with changes to your diet and exercise to make them stick for the long-term.

One final thought...everybody is a little different in what works for them. I have a friend who has lost almost 200 pounds, and he has discovered that he has to treat sweets of any kind as if they were an especially addictive drug. He can't have so much as one, because he gets out of control so easily. Most of the time, that isn't an issue for me, but I have to make sure that I eat something for breakfast so I don't snack too much in the afternoon. Treat yourself as an experiment, and discover what makes your body work better.

Good luck!
posted by epersonae at 10:58 AM on May 14, 2008

Oh, and MeMail me if you have any questions. Like Khalad, I'll talk the ears off of anyone who's interested in my weight loss experience. :)
posted by epersonae at 11:01 AM on May 14, 2008

Response by poster: I appreciate the responses, your answers have all been great! I haven't read through all the sites/books mentioned yet, but so far my favorite has been John Stone Fitness (thanks Khalad!).. I specially love those forums.

Thanks guys!
posted by Sufi at 2:44 PM on May 14, 2008

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