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Fitness advice for an obese female


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I'm 5'10" and currently weigh 277. I don't have a horrible fitness level, but it's not awesome either (obviously given my weight). I can walk/hike quite a distance and try to get out at least twice a week to do one or the other (I'm in Canada bad weather right now)

I also have a Concept Rower which I am getting back on track with and I am rowing 5 times a week with a schedule that is specific to my weight loss goals, current weight and starting fitness level. (This is my schedule)

I know rowing is both cardio and strength training and it works out my entire body. But I also know that I should be doing some weight training probably 3 times a week. The goal is to work out at home if possible at least for the next 8 months and I was going to buy some free weights and try out the New Rules of Lifting for Women.

My question is, how detrimental would it be if I waited a few months before starting the weight training? I'd like to be in a bit better shape before adding another fitness requirement to my current regime.

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Better to change one habbit and make it a habit and then move to add another good habit. It takes 8 weeks to make something a habit so spend 8 weeks just doing the rowing. Then add in 1 day of weights a week

 

Baltimoreamt - that's kinda what my thinking was. To develop my new habits slowly so I don't get overwhelmed and give up

Although I would encourage you start weight lifting early in your journey to preserve your muscles which will benefit you later, if you can't start a free weight program just yet, maybe just do body weight exercises.  These can be very effective at the beginner level.

http://caloriecount.about.com/forums/fitness/ welcome-fitness-forum-faq-read-first#2

In that thread there is a list of weight training programs and one is for equipment less ones. 

Also maybe just use the bodyweight exercises in a metabolic type workout 2- 3 days a week.  These type of workouts you do a specific exercise of your choice for say 30 sec to begin then rest 30 sec then do another one, etc,  work as hard as you can during the workout and take advantage of the resting.

I implement rower into my metabolic workouts.  I will do a min rowing rest 20 sec then do push ups for a min rest, then burpees, then speed squats and then repeat until I've worked out for about 20 minutes.  

Check out bodyrocktv for some ideas.  Also google metabolic workouts.  They are a lot of fun, require no equipment for the most part and can be done at home and in little time.

I wish I had started weight lifting early in my journey just so  I wouldn't have the baggy skin I have now.  But if you don't have weights look into the body weight options

You should definitely be doing weight training. I'd go as far as to say, if you're going to choose one or the other, it's more important for weight loss than rowing is.

Don't get me wrong, rowing is a great exercise (I row at least three times a week) but all it's going to do for you is allow you to eat more food (or have a greater deficit) and get you in great cardiovasular shape.

Weight training will help you maintain the muscle you have now while losing fat which basically means a greater loss of inches.

I'm not suggesting to do one or the other for life. I think that ultimately, rowing and weight training are important for health. When you're eating at a deficit, weight training is imperative.

By the way, I've done NROLFW twice and have had phenomenal results. Increase in strength, loss of fat.

"Don't get me wrong, rowing is a great exercise (I row at least three times a week) but all it's going to do for you is allow you to eat more food (or have a greater deficit) and get you in great cardiovasular shape."

I disagree with this statement.  When rowing you are using your entire body to overcome resistance.  This will cause you to use muscles in ways your body has not been using them.  These muscles will transition from being untrained muscle to trained muscle which will give your metabolism a boost.  It will also serve to preserve muscle mass while you are losing weight.  And it will make you stronger.

This is not to say the you shouldn't add weight training to your routine.  There is a link above to body weight exercises you can do.  There is a limit to what you can do with body weight and with the Concept 2 Ergometer but I think it will take you some time before you get to the point where weights are necessary.

This is my opinion.

I don't disagree with you on the effectiveness of rowing, especially in someone who has never rowed before. In relation to fat loss, weight training has done more for me than rowing. Personal experience, though.

I think it is fine if you wait. It is good if you do something, good for your health and good for you to start the habit of being active. But it's not really important that it be weight lifting, rowing is fine.

I would disagree with this: "I'd like to be in a bit better shape before adding another fitness requirement to my current regime." There are some things you probably shouldn't add right now because of your weight, like running. But weight lifting is something you could do right now.

I started off doing cardio only, and now wish that I had started with weight training first and then added in the cardio. I now prioritize lifting 3x per week and try to do cardio (for you rowing) on 3 other days a week. The weight training has given me much better results than the cardio ever did.

Having said that, the best thing for you to do is whatever you will be able to keep doing. If that is rowing then keep at it. If you think you would stick with the weights then I would do that first and the rowing as your add in.

I am on stage 5 NROLFW and although I have only lost 5lbs (started with only 20 to lose) I have gone down 3 dress sizes. And really, it isn't the number on the scale that's important it's your health and fitness.

Wow these are all awesome replies and I truly appreciate you taking the time to give me such detailed information. I just read through them all, but I am going to reread again and check out some of the links posted.

I think the other factor that's giving me pause is that I literally know nothing about weight training, so it's a little intimidating. I am definitely buying the book so many have recommended and will read it first so at least I have some understanding. Then I guess I will need to figure out if it's something I can start on my own or if maybe I need to pay for some assistance at first. I'm not opposed to paying for a gym membership or a personal trainer, I just want to make sure I'm at the right stage in my journey to make the most advantage of them.

I will most definitely look at the things I can do at home without equipment to start - that's a great recommendation.

I'm very fond of the Options for equipmentless workouts personally, you can do nothing but body weight and lifting random things from around the house for at least the first 2-3 months; with some ingenuity you can probably do that for a full 6 months before your strength has developed to the point where your own body weight doesn't provide enough resistance.

 Only issue is that for the obese beginner body weight is sometimes too much to handle for some of the exercises you should be doing - vertical pull is particularly tricky as the chin-up isn't exactly a good place to start and the lat pull-down isn't something people have just lying around the home :)

 It can be a mite tricky to find a rowing exercise that meets the threshold stimulus for being strength training as opposed to the endurance workout on the Concept 2 rower, although being a beginner helps you out a lot there; as a novice it's only going to take a stimulus of about 40% of your 1RM for the first 3-4 weeks of training, or a weight you can lift about 30 times before your muscles give out. Beyond that first month though, you will need more resistance before it "counts" as strength training no matter how good cardio it is.

  Still, body weight and improvised weights should last you about 3-6 months before you need to consider buying some adjustable dumbbells and a barbell ;)

Original Post by lindseycouch:

My question is, how detrimental would it be if I waited a few months before starting the weight training? I'd like to be in a bit better shape before adding another fitness requirement to my current regime.

I've been losing weight since the beginning of August and I didn't start doing weight training until mid-December. Prior to that, I only did cardio. If I had to re-do it, I think I would do it the same way. I lost 40 pounds from the beginning of August through the beginning of December and then my weight loss slowed way down and adding weights and lots of other toning exercises helped me start losing again.

Also, I was too overwhelmed with changing my eating, starting to exercise, and basically changing my whole lifestyle to really spend anymore time at the gym figuring out how to start getting toned.

It sounds like it would work well for you to take it one thing at a time, also. It's less overwhelming if you can start slow and add new things in when you're ready for them.

I really wish I could just take you guys to the gym with me!

I am going to start on the equipment free workouts, continue rowing, read up on weight lifting and then slowly introduce it into my lifestyle when I feel more comfortable with all the changes going on. Awesome feedback guys! I will let you know what happens.

Hey Lindsey , welcome back.

If I were in your shoes, I wouldn't worry too much about weight training at this stage in the game. I would focus all my energy on keeping to a caloric deficit and adding in as much cardio as I could manage. It can be difficult to try to incorporate both an intense strength training program and a weight loss exercise program at the same time. Although lifting is great for the body, if it taxes your ability to get our there and burn calories thru rowing or walking, I wouldn't do it. You get more bang for the buck thru cardio when it comes to weight loss and that seems to be your priority at this moment. I'd focus all my intensity on that, and then add in the muscle workouts down the line when the results will more clearly show on your slimmer physique.Good luck.

Original Post by dowerphi:

If I were in your shoes, I wouldn't worry too much about weight training at this stage in the game. I would focus all my energy on keeping to a caloric deficit and adding in as much cardio as I could manage. It can be difficult to try to incorporate both an intense strength training program and a weight loss exercise program at the same time. Although lifting is great for the body, if it taxes your ability to get our there and burn calories thru rowing or walking, I wouldn't do it. You get more bang for the buck thru cardio when it comes to weight loss and that seems to be your priority at this moment. I'd focus all my intensity on that, and then add in the muscle workouts down the line when the results will more clearly show on your slimmer physique.Good luck.

Resistance Weight Training With Endurance Training Improves Fat Loss

until you get down to a lower weight, the most you're going to be able to do right now is low impact activities such as walking, biking, or using the elliptical... enjoy it while you can because the closer you get to your goal weight, the harder you're gonna have to start working 

try to get in at least 30 mins of exercise most days of the week, and stay as active as you can during the day (house work, walking up stairs.. just moving around in general) don't be a couch potato, and if you have a sedentary job, try getting up every hour or so and going for a short walk

to put it into perspective... a full day of moving > 30 mins of exercise a few times a week and sitting around the rest of the time. You will burn more calories if you are regularly active each day, than if you are just active in short bursts every couple of days.

and when you do exercise avoid using it as an excuse to eat as much as you want-- most people overestimate how many calories they are actually burning

remember it is about 80% diet-- you can NOT out exercise a poor diet. Make sure your diet is in check to make the most out of your workouts

Where in Canada are you from?? I'm from calgary and if u like to hike I got something that could kick your ass while loving every minute ;) and you will not be worrying about the cold trust me

Hi Lindsey,

Just wanted to add my two cents!  I started to lose weight and change my lifestyle a year ago.  I started at 242 (maybe more).  For the first several months I did not exercise at all (just my preference - no reason.)  I then added outside activities - tennis lessons and bike riding.  I lost 60 pounds in the 8-9 months.  I still have 30 pounds to go and have just started NROL4W (New Rules of Lifting for Women).  Though I have not lost anything in the past several months, I have not gained -- or I have gained and lost -- there will always be vacations, holidays, etc.  You just have to figure that in.

You have to do what feels right to you -- not what you think you should do.  If you try to overdo it, you might not continue and might give up on everything.  This is a long journey, not a short race.  Pace yourself and add or change routines as you feel you need to.  Do what you feel you will do long term. 

Good luck!

Original Post by scrambler22:

Where in Canada are you from?? I'm from calgary and if u like to hike I got something that could kick your ass while loving every minute ;) and you will not be worrying about the cold trust me

Damn I'm in Ontario. =) I wouldn't have minded an ass kicking, I enjoy a challenge.

I have to say though for being as big as I am, I actually can out hike most people I know (of a normal size) and I can do it a lot faster and for a lot longer. I've gone on hiking trips with friends who brought additional friends, and I've seen that smirk on the new people's face when they see me. I know they are thinking fat girl is gonna slow us down - Yeah by the end of the day they are watching my fat butt in wonder as I speed on ahead of them. =)

I've hiked all my life though so I think my body has adapted to that. It's only when I go over really rough terrain or climbing terrain where I get a really hard workout that I actually feel the next day. And I know that is because I am using muscles in a different way, or muscles I don't normally use. So despite having a sedimentary lifestyle (office job) and not working out on a regular basis, I am definitely not starting at square one. I am pretty realistic about my fitness level and the areas I know I am hopeless in hence the interest in weight lifting.

Original Post by nycgurl:

Hi Lindsey,

Just wanted to add my two cents!  I started to lose weight and change my lifestyle a year ago.  I started at 242 (maybe more).  For the first several months I did not exercise at all (just my preference - no reason.)  I then added outside activities - tennis lessons and bike riding.  I lost 60 pounds in the 8-9 months.  I still have 30 pounds to go and have just started NROL4W (New Rules of Lifting for Women).  Though I have not lost anything in the past several months, I have not gained -- or I have gained and lost -- there will always be vacations, holidays, etc.  You just have to figure that in.

You have to do what feels right to you -- not what you think you should do.  If you try to overdo it, you might not continue and might give up on everything.  This is a long journey, not a short race.  Pace yourself and add or change routines as you feel you need to.  Do what you feel you will do long term. 

Good luck!

That is really great advice and thanks so much for the encouragement!

Original Post by baltimoreamt:

Better to change one habbit and make it a habit and then move to add another good habit. It takes 8 weeks to make something a habit so spend 8 weeks just doing the rowing. Then add in 1 day of weights a week

 

I agree 100% with these comments, and don't underestimate the rowing you're doing - it will serve you well and could well be a staple or cornerstone of your exercise program - you could do much worse. 

As a general rule though: Don't try to add too much too soon, or try to make everything "perfect".  Don't beat yourself up just coz you're not following all of the books and advice that's thrown around.  Gradually introduce new things into your routine, and after you've been going a while, perhaps retire or switch out some of the exercising you've been doing for some time.  Keep it interesting!  The body reacts well to these changes, and I like to feel when I'd made a change, that I'd done the work and "graduated".  You'll find things like adding half a kilo to your dumbbells every now and then to be quite rewarding, self affirming and motivating - and that's the key here.

Re the weights: Start by adding just one session per week.  Limit it to, say, 15 minutes so the thought of doing it in the first place is not intimidating - BUT never miss that session!  Allow yourself to feel good after you've done it.  See how you go.  Can I suggest you start as soon as you can with just one or two "weights" exercises in this session?  What area of your body would you like to tone?  Your upper back is well taken care of by your rowing - maybe you want a little pump on your biceps?  Maybe you want to tone your shoulders?  Pick two good broad free-weight exercises for these targeted areas, and do two (harder), or three (slightly easier) sets during your super-quick-I-can't-believe-it's-so-easy 15min workout.  Keep it light - don't strain yourself at first.  You will WANT to do more as time goes on, but wait for that time to come to you - don't force it.  Log your exercises, weights and reps/sets etc..

The idea here is to feel like you're doing *something*; familiarizing yourself with the routine and the "newness" of using weights.  Allow yourself to be proud for adding some weight (to the bars!), or doing a bit more as time goes on, and just slowly evolving into it.  Start with small goals and achieve them!  The benefit of simply sticking to a simple plan is powerful.

You never know - like my wife, you may get quite chuffed at throwing a few weights around - she tells people she lifts weights, oh yes she does!  She's doing three solid sessions a week now, after sternly resisting my subtle prompts that she might lift a lonely kilo or two for something like two years.  I finally asked her to at least *try* to do ONE set of ONE exercise, ONCE a week.  She begrudgingly started day one with some lat pulldowns which took her all of 45 seconds (I watched her do it in a reflection in a window as she quite categorically DID NOT want me to watch her do it), after which she said "there, I've done it".  I smiled.

She was intimidated by "doing weights" and thought she didn't know how to do it.  Anyways, as I said, now she's clocking up about three x 30min sessions a week.  She lifts for tone, not to look like Arnie - which was another of her initial concerns.  She loves it and has very good form, and is extremely disciplined about it, bless her cotton socks.  It brings a tear to my eyes to see her writing up balanced weights programs, switching muscle focus, allowing for proper recovery, monitoring protein intake and the like - reasonably advanced stuff.  Shoot - I'm so proud of her for just trying it in the first place.

Best of luck,

Matt.

 

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