For most of my life, I followed a bodybuilding approach to fitness based on aesthetics, frequent eating, and targeting 1-2 muscle groups each workout.
My fitness bible was “Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Guide to Modern Bodybuilding” and I “chased the pump” for many years. I worshipped hugely muscular dudes with 20-inch biceps, so of course I did their 20-set arms routines, which I read in Muscle & Fitness magazine to get my 12-inch teenage guns bigger.
After over 10 years of following the bodybuilding path, I realized my athleticism and overall health were declining. I was tighter than Tin Man, I lacked the balance and coordination I enjoyed as an avid athlete growing up, my frequent eating schedule created unnecessary anxiety in my life, and finally, I had an unhealthy focus on how I looked.
I’m not writing this article to say the bodybuilding approach to fitness is evil, or wrong. There are many bodybuilders who I’ve learned from and respect like Tom Venuto, Dave Draper, & Franco Columbu to name a few.
I’m sharing my opinion on how following a functional fitness approach based on how our bodies are built to function may lead to better health, more happiness, and greater longevity.
1. Use Your Body As One Piece
If I could sum up the functional fitness approach to exercise in one phrase, it would be to “use your body as one piece”.
The human body is an amazing interconnected web of muscles, fascia, bones, ligaments, tendons, nerves and other matter that collaborate seamlessly to create movement and support life.
Focusing on one, or two body parts each workout is like turning the human body into a dumb machine comprised of disparate parts. But this is not how the human body works, or is structured. If you watch a human dissection (videos are available on YouTube), you’ll see that trying to “target” specific muscles through exercise is almost laughable.
Anatomist Thomas Myers concluded the human body is like “one muscle separated into 600 fascial pockets”. Fascia is the collagenous web that connects our muscles together.
A full-body exercise approach based on fundamental movement patterns like squatting, bending, pushing, and pulling uses the body as one piece to develop functional strength that carries over into your daily life or sporting activities. This approach also promotes better cardiovascular health and mobility.
A full-body approach is arguably superior for building muscle, burning fat, improving strength, and increasing athletic performance.
Finally, a full-body, functional approach that emphasizes movements over muscle groups can help address (or identify) weaknesses you may have, which in turn boosts your overall strength and athleticism.
2. Focus On Performance, Aesthetics Will Follow
While how you look is probably very important to you, does that mean your training should be structured around aesthetics? I don’t think so.
From a historical perspective, the purpose of exercise was to prepare for physical challenges, typically sport or fighting. My guess is that Spartan Warriors were not worried about getting a biceps pump.
By focusing on improving performance, as you become stronger and more athletic, your body will start to look more athletic, lean, and fit. In other words, aesthetics are a byproduct of improved performance.
Most importantly, focusing on performance creates a healthy mindset shift from obsessively thinking about how you look, to approaching exercise as a skill that is developed and refined. This can be a liberating experience.
By challenging your entire body as one piece, you develop your muscles in a way that is naturally aesthetic. You won’t have to worry about gross muscle imbalances like an oversized chest with small arms. You won’t have to worry about doing abs exercises to get a six-pack.
3. Eat To Support Your Lifestyle
The typical bodybuilding approach to nutrition is to eat frequently, as many as 6 or 7 meals per day. Most of these meals are comprised of whole foods, with a couple protein shakes.
Bodybuilding is also associated with heavy use of supplements and ergogenic aids like steroids. Supplements in particular are promoted by reputable fitness models who are sponsored by the supplement companies. While some supplements can make a difference, most are a waste of money in my opinion.
Research has shown meal frequency does not boost your metabolism, nor does it help you burn more fat1. Whether it’s eating 3 square meals per day, or 2, or 7, go with whatever best fits your lifestyle.
How do you build a strong, lean, athletic body? – Train like an athlete by using a full-body approach to exercise and fuel your body with whole foods, eating however many meals makes sense for you while meeting the demands of your active lifestyle.
Have you ever followed the bodybuilding approach before? Have you made the shift to a functional fitness approach?
- Cameron JD, Cyr MJ, Doucet E. Increased meal frequency does not promote greater weight loss in subjects who were prescribed an 8-week equi-energetic energy-restricted diet Br J Nutr. 2010;103(8):1098-101. ↩
Great article as always Marc. What’s roughly an ideal week of training based on functional fitness? I’m a 29 year old female, wanting to get stronger, improve posture/core strength and lose just a bit of bodyfat. Thanks
That’s a great question, Mia. The functional fitness approach is more of a mindset that a specific methodology. For example, 2 of our 5 BuiltLean Principles are (1) build functional strength and (2) move every day. So a training / fitness plan that satisfies those principles in my opinion can be considered functional. My new fitness program I developed I hope to launch in January, I have it set up so that there are 3 full-body strength workouts every week comprised of about 5 exercises in each workout. The workout starts with a dynamic warm up and ends with stretching. On non-workout days, I have a stretch circuit that people follow. So basically, we have strength / cardio training that’s more concentrated a few days a week combined with mobility training (basically as much as possible). Hope that’s helpful!
What is also important is the suppleness of the body, the range of movement of your joints. Combining this regime with yoga is ideal.
Agreed, I do yoga-type flows every day, a good base of mobility and stability is the foundation to build exceptional strength in my opinion
This is the way I’m working towards training, hard to abandon weights after over 25 years of lifting but all the injuries suck.
Couldn’t agree more with you that injuries suck. I’ve had more than my fair share. But when I think of the pinnacle of functional training, I actually think of not just advanced bodyweight exercises, but lifting weights. The deadlift is debatably the most functional exercise you can do, and Gray Cook, the creator of the Functional Movement Screen told me if he could only recommend one exercise for someone to get strong and stay healthy, it’s the deadlift. I do plan on writing another article (or two) that goes into depth about what functional training means and how to define it. It can be very confusing!
Sweet article, Mark!
Love the site.Been a reader for a few years and i’ve been through your excellent BuiltLean 8-Week Program.
Here’s hoping you and your team will start publishing more articles from now on.
I really think you have a unique approach and philosophy to training.One that is the most “transferable” to all the untrained people, if you know what i mean.I think you do.
Thanks for the kind words, David! Myself, our new managing editor Kristin Rooke, and our new contributors are all working hard to create more consistent articles and videos. As of now, we plan to post 3 in-depth articles per week starting in 2016.
Great article Mark. I’ve been following your advice for the last 3 years. I’ll be 64 in April and am leaner and have better overall fitness than I have for many years. Thanks so much for all you do’
Thanks for your encouragement, Mike. That means a lot! And happy to hear you are staying lean and strong. Age is just a number.
Great article, Mark.
It’s refreshing to hear you give out such candid advice, given that most people in the fitness industry just develop one mantra and then run with it forevermore – whether they mean it or not! I’m quite biased on this subject as I gave up weights around one year ago due to the feeling that I was wearing my body (and mind) down unnecessarily, mostly in pursuit of bigger measurements.
I felt overtrained regularly and my CNS was almost certainly bottoming out frequently, which is a horrible situation to find yourself in- especially since these exercises are essentially done to give you better wellbeing and more energy. I just feel weight training is sort of aimless in that it doesn’t really provide much other than good aesthetics and a baseline of fitness; both of which can be satisfied in other, more enjoyable ways. I also noticed that the several, regular, smaller-meals-per-day approach was impeding on my work and social life. I now eat 3 meals per day and feel much more satiated in doing so. My body composition hasn’t really budged and I have read reliable medical evidence of how this is actually more beneficial due to the overall less rising / falling of blood sugar.
Anyway that’s just my own anecdotal experience and I feel much fitter, healthier and happier from my body weight exercises and stretching routines.
Do you still do some types of weights, and how many meals per day do you feel suits your schedule nowadays?
Thanks for the comment, James. I think there was a slight misunderstanding when I created this post, in that “functional fitness” encompasses lifting weight, bodyweight, running etc. I plan on writing another article where I will define what functional training is, and also another about my top 5 functional training exercises. Surprisingly, all but one are weight training exercises. Strength coach Pavel Tsatsouline wisely proclaimed “Functional exercises have as great a carryover to as many applications as possible.” So theoretically, an exercise like a deadlift is the most functional exercise of all. My favorite functional exercise personally is a kettlebell swing (I also love the turkish get up, but it’s highly technical). I have my dad and mom doing kettlebell swings along with my brother and every person I ever train. Swings help keep the hips strong, grip strong, and it’s essentially anti-aging. If you do want to learn a kettlebell swing etc., I would highly recommend you invest in some coaching with a StrongFirst certified kettlebell instructor preferably one who is also FMS certified). I have several coaches I work with, working with a coach one-on-one is a great return on investment. Nowadays, I have a nice long warm up, short quality training session, do some stretching at the end. I guess what I’m getting at with my ramble is that the training approach is what counts, and using exercises with proper form and technique. I think weights can be a lot of fun and very effective, but they can also cause injury and CNS fatigue etc.
Good article – I have been taking this approach for a few years now with a focus on year-long ice hockey training. I came to realize the warm up and cool down were essential to every workout and not to be skipped. I love the Mobility-Strength-Plyo full body approach as the variety of exercise combinations keep me engaged and focused on the goal of improved performance – even as a 48 yr old. Keep up the good work!
Thanks for your comment, Darren. Happy to see you are working on mobility, a lot of guys neglect it!
I like what u said about eating. My trainer wants me to eat all the time. That does not work for my body. In fact he compliments me more when I eat the way i know that works for me he just thinks I’m eating his way . What type of exercises are full body exercises?
Great question, Traci. Every exercise is a full body exercise when executed correctly, even a biceps curl, but some are more effective and functional than others. I wrote an article about my top 5 favorite functional exercises which I plan to post in the next 2-weeks, but some of my favorites are (1) kettlebell swings (2) push ups (3) pull-ups (4) farmer’s carry (5) turkish get up. All these exercises are multi-joint exercises that are unassisted (i.e. not using machines). The prerequisite for doing these exercises is sufficient mobility.
It’s interesting to see some of the comments of those that think functional fitness/exercise means abandoning lifting weights. On the contrary, lifting weights as functional exercise is the only way you’ll be able to help someone lift a sofa when moving, or lift boxes to store on the top shelf, etc. Doing countless burpees and planks (while great for cardiovascular health) won’t do you any good as far as every day activities are concerned. Without weights,(deadlifts etc) how would you maintain or increase shoulder/back/leg/core/arm strength to lift a heavy box over your head to put on a shelf? Now I’m rambling. Keep up the good work in educating the masses about functional fitness.
Thanks, Kenny. All good points.
Hi Marc..I am 25 year old male with 5’11” height and 86 kg weight. I have nearly 18% body fat. What should I do weight training or just body weight exercise to get lean muscular physique. I am weight training from last 4 months and lose only 2kg. Suggest a good training program.
Hey Ankit, you can choose whatever exercise method you want, the key is to get the nutrition right. I have written extensively on the BuiltLean website about this, you can use the search bar on the menu to search various posts. If you just want a simple plan to follow, I do have a new program coming out very soon, I hope the first week of January. It’s a few workouts per week that are a lot of fun.
Yeah, I made the switch and do full body workouts only twice a week. And the whole functional approach made me feel a whole lot better but also a better athlete even at midlife. One result being that I now box a couple of days a week as well. As such, I’m feeling far more fit, powerful, athletic, and confident then I ever was when bodybuilding. I’m just a much more complete human being and, yes, women themselves like the look, and the approach, much better, finding it much more attractive – and manly. And that’s not a bad bonus!
Thanks for sharing your experience, Jon. I remember when I was following the bodybuilding approach, I would be so sore after my leg workouts, I could barely move for a few days. And I thought the workout’s were effective. Boy was I wrong. Happy to see you are following a more functional approach that is clearly working great for you.
Great article. I am a NSCA personal trainer and recently FMS certified.I love to read articles with the ‘functional’ philosophy. My father is 87 and is in fairly good health especially in his ability to move. Do you have any suggestions of videos or programming that he could use while at home? Thank you
Hey Nicole, very smart move getting FMS certified. Happy to hear that. Consider level II as well. I’ve learned some amazing things like how an exercise as simple as crocodile breathing can help someone move dramatically better. I think that’s a tough one for your dad at 87. I think exercises using a TRX for assistance could be worth considering. It’s just so hard for me to make any specific exercise recommendations as every person is different, especially in his age group. But again, I think the TRX could be good like assisted squat, trx row, push ups, also consider step ups, getting in and out of a chair etc. Hope that’s helpful!
Thanks for such a thoughtful article. I am a formerly morbidly obese 51 year old male. I have battled with my weight and eating since I was a kid. I’ve been up and down in weight and am currently about 30-35 pounds over where I like to be, which is a heck of a lot better than the 110 pounds over I used to be. I really would like to finally be a truly fit individual and continually strive toward that goal. I am finding it harder as I age to lose even a few pounds without cutting calories way back. I love working out, exercise regularly and have not really done “spot” training in several years. I tend toward total body workouts and supplement with cardio (my favorite being elliptical machines). I guess my question is this: Is the idea of functional fitness different from a total body workout approach? Hope that makes sense.
Hey Devon, congrats on losing so much weight. The functional fitness approach is a full-body training approach that enhances your full body strength and helps you move more efficiently. So they are the same thing. I plan to write a lot more articles on functional training, so stay tuned.
Hi Marc- I recently became a CPT at the age of 54. I am very interested in functional fitness and so appreciated your article. Can you recommend resources for me to learn more about and eventually get certified in functional movement and exercise? Thank you!
Hey Amy, congrats on getting certified! I think getting certified / learning about the Functional Movement Screen is a really smart move. I think doing both the 1 and 2 levels is ideal. The FMS is profound, it takes a while to really appreciate the power of what you’re learning, or at least it did for me. The next organization I’m in love with is StrongFirst, but it’s pretty hard core. They have a bodyweight, kettlebell, and barbell certification. Good luck!
Another great article Marc. Ive got nutrition woes and need assistance. I recently Retired from the military after 24 years of them worrying about my nutrition. Now that I’m out I’ve gained about 40 unwanted pounds due to the UN discipline of myself. I’m getting ready to start up a 28day body transformation and want to kick it off right by fixing my nutrition. Do you have any advice as to where I need to start?
Hey Bryan, it does seem the cards are stacked against us when it comes to nutrition. Food is ever-present and typically devoid of nutrients. I think you have a few solid options (1) work with a nutritionist (2) create a handful of meals and snacks you like that are within a specific calorie threshold and just eat them 95% of the time, which ensures you will eat less food (only issue is what happens when you start adding more foods to your diet) and (3) tracking your calories with an app so you become more cognizant of the foods you eat, you can even do this just for a few days which is very educational and (4) cut out some foods completely you know are not good – i.e. soda, french fries, etc. I think one, or a combination of these strategies can work very well. Good luck!
Very important article thank you Marc .
Hey Marc, great article as always! I used to do total body workout and than changed to bodybuilding workouts. I have to say that the funtional trainings are more satisfaying and for me i feel much more better after those workouts than when i go lifting weights. Also i’ve seen improvement in my strenght that is usefull when you change back to lifting weights. So at the end i decided to do 3 functional trainings a week and 3 BB. Thanks for this article!
Excellent article Marc and as I have gotten older, I’ve made many adjustments over the years to accommodate physical and life changes to remain fit and active. I completely agree with your thoughts on functional fitness. Looking forward to your planned release of new program in January.
Thanks, Deb. We’re working really hard on the new program, excited to launch it soon. hopefully in the second week in January.
Interested to read your above article. There are still many trainers who still teach just isolation muscle exercises.
I have found over the last 15 years a great combination of proper boxing, pure pilates and some of my made up exercices , assist in general fitness and great for one’s physical wellbeing, strength, flexibility, tone and endurance. Also having an outdoors job ( head gardener )’ helps after 30 odd years in finance sitting on my backside.
Also training people in groups adds to the comraderie and encouragement, as well as teaching a particular skill with their own training moves, makes everything more interesting.
I am 62 years of age.
Regards and Happy New Year.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Kevin! Happy to hear you take a functional fitness approach that is working well
Greetings for the occasion.
I am of the opinion for the lean body and am following this routine and please suggest if something needs to be added or cuttoff.
Warmup with some stretching exercise and barbel squat of 17 reps at present (one reps increases every week for all exercises).
Workout starts with Pushups and barbel press and thereafter with each exercise for neck, shoulder, biceps, triceps and forerms, abs workout on alternate day.
I follow this routine daily for 6 days, with sunday as rest, some times 2 days rest in case of sprain in any part.
Hey Javed – it’s hard for me to comment on a specific routine, but I have an article I just wrote today about how to structure a full-body workout that I suggest you check out. May give you some more ideas on how to structure your routine.
Great article Mark. As a user and success story of your built lean program (1.0), I’ve always appreciated your insight and find your studies very informative. I plan to try to apply this to training going forward to build function, and let form follow. (Recently put on a little weight, so looking forward to getting back to it). Can’t wait for BL version 3 soon also. I’ll bet functional training is incorporated into its core.
Thanks for your comment, Anthony. I’m super excited for you to try BuiltLean 3.0, I think it’s the best program yet, and yes, functional training is at the core of the program.
I’m a tennis player and am 72 ;I play 5-6times a week ;I work out three times a week doing push pull and full body workout trying to keep muscle mass sort of an aerobic workout and some yoga and Pilates my question is this similar to what your offering ?
Congrats on staying active, Robert. It sounds like you are following a functional fitness approach. In terms of my new program I plan to launch very soon, it’s based on 3 full body strength circuits per week.
Marc – interesting read, looks like you’ve been busy. I was wondering why the articles had slowed a bit in between.
My question is – do you forsee your training program (I’ve purchased) undergoing any changes since the last revision?
Best wishes for 2016
Hey Alan, thanks for the comment. Yes, I have been very busy and I’m super excited to have the newsletter started up again and also consistent articles. The new program is based on the same principles as the old one, but it’s almost entirely new. It’s a different program with different workouts and it’s been lengthened to 12-weeks.
That’s great to hear Marc. you know how to get a person hyped haha. looking forward to the update. any indication when you will have it out? Thanks
Marc, great article! Yes, I made a switch to CrossFit last year and feel incredible. Thanks for the article!
Great article and excited to learn about the new programs. Ever consided creating a home workout plan for those without access ago a gym or weight? For at home and traveling?
Hey Jimmy, thanks for your interest. The new program I plan to launch soon requires only dumbbells, a pull up bar, and a jump rope. So you can do it either at home, at a gym, or on the road. The exercises can also easily be modified to suit whatever space / equipment constraints you may have. One of the key changes I made with this new program was to make it more accessible.
Thanks. Excited for the new program. Sounds better then the last one. Which I did do so well about without a gym. Can suspension straps be used instead of dumbbell?
Happy to hear you are excited for the new program! The new program is more accessible than the old one, meaning it’s easier with even less equipment. I guess you can create substitutes for most of the exercises as long as you have experience using the suspension straps and doing many different exercises on them. If you have any questions about exercise substitutes, we can give you some ideas.
I cannot say enough how much I appreciate this article. The timing also has been perfect. I’m 54, female and have trained since 2008 strictly weight lifting. Early this past summer, I began training, with a trainer, doing the full-body training. It has taken months to adjust to and convince myself to switch. I don’t so much care that I’m not as aesthetically defined anymore. I’m stronger and with getting older, feel so much better training full-body instead of body parts. And, my nutrition now is SO much easier to deal with as well. I’m happy you’ll be coming out with a 12-week program. Thank you again for such a great article! Happy New Year!
Thanks for sharing, Theresa and congrats on your results
Great article Marc. The reason I’ve subscribed to your programs in the past is because of the implied goals in the “Builtlean” brand name. I don’t like the ripped look, and aim to be lean, flexible, fit and healthy. I guess at 58 years old my goals have to different anyway. Functionality, flexibility, planning for continued independence and still being vain enough to want to look as good as possible in nice clothes are way more important than how much I can bench press. I also struggle with an unhealthy relationship with food and am sick of worrying about it. Looking forwards to the release of your new program this month, as mentioned in your subscriber email. Cheers, Dave
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Dave. Super excited for you to try out the new program when it’s ready.
Great news on the new and improved program! It’s been too quiet for some time with regards to updates and I was getting worried you may had gone back to your old job ;). It’s great to see you posting again! I really enjoy the website and it has been a great help and support in my quest to become healthy again.
My entire life I’ve been told I have short muscles. I remember from elementary school I couldn’t do certain exercises. Later in high school I joined a basketball team and was amazed by the flexibity these guys had in their joints. Again I was told I just had short muscles. Like it was something I just had to accept and nothing could be done about it. A few years later I started to get pain in my knees. Noticed it when squatting or cycling or climbing stairs. When I went to the doctor (on several occasions actually) I was told it was growing pains or something, either way it would go away by itself and it was nothing to worry about. In my early 20’s I got a deskjob and I stopped stopped sporting. I’ve been sitting on my behind for over 20 years.
In 2014 I weighted 242 pounds. Resting heart rate was around 80. Walking up and down the stairs at home and I’d be gasping for air.
I couldn’t stand on one leg (balance issues), I had very weak muscles in my legs, I could barely get up from a squat position and often used my arms for support. Poor locomotion, especially in legs, and I was getting kind of clumsy overall. It’s embarrasing when you’re unable to correct some movement and either loose balance or bump into something or someone.
It turned out I’ve been having patellofemoral syndrome in my knees – thanks to the Doc for taking me serious as a kid! They could have fixed it then, now it’s chronic. I’m also severely limited in movement in all my joints – especially shoulders. For example, I could barely reach behind my back to pull a sleeve to take off a coat but I also couldn’t sit straight up on the floor with my legs strechted in front of me (hamstrings). I also developed a severe hunchback posture. The back of my neck had this huge lump from my spine sticking out, and my shoulders hanging forward.
The list goes on and on, you get the idea. I wanted to turn things around in 2014. With that weight and my knees I couldn’t go running so I opted for cycling. After a few months I lost about 30 pounds but ran into several injuries, severe pain in my neck from the forward position on the bike, an infection in my shoulder and another one in my heel. I went to the doc and a PT and I was told to stop. It took almost 4 months to recover after which I was really depressed and demotivated to continue any kind of workout, and I also started to gain some weight again.
In the first half of 2015 I picked up again. I stopped eating junk and generally watched what I was eating. I started walking and slowly started cycling again. I lost another few pounds but hit a wall. That’s when I ran into builtlean.com. I spent days reading on your site, read about the radroller, foam roller, watched your videos and learned about diet. But with so many sites promising weight loss and improved health, I was extremely sceptic about your 8-week program. When I read the money back garantee I decided to take the plunge and purchased your program.
Unfortunately, I was unable to complete the program. I ran into so many issues, I was unable to complete the movement screen tests for instance, I was unable to do even a single push up or pull up, when doing goblet squats my knees were absolutely killing me – it was a nightmare!
This time, I didn’t give up though. I decided to completely throw my eating habits out the door. I switched to an almost 100% biological diet, whole vegetables only, I stopped eating anything processed, only drink water, black coffee or tea and eat several pieces of fruit every day. I also stopped adding sugars everywhere and I started logging and weighing anything I eat, as accurately as possible to calculate my calorie intake. I’ve been doing this for about 6 months now. Weight plummeted down and for every 10% weight loss I adjusted my calorie intake down by 10%.
By the start of this year I had lost a total of over 66 pounds, I’m down to 176 (I’m 6 ft)! That is almost 2.5 pounds per 10 days on average since I picked up in 2015 again. With the accumeasure clip and charts I can measure body fat %, it’s down from an estimate of 30% (didn’t have the clip back then) to 16%. I’m not sure how to calculate it exactly but I reckon I must have lost some muscle mass as well due to the fact that I couldn’t follow the 8-week program.
But I continued with the exercises that I could do like the breakout exercises from the screen tests and I continued doing the warmup exercises. I continued cycling and found what must be the best PT in the country (treats professional athletes too and trains a lot too, going for the iron man later this year). He’s been a great help and support and we are working on my hips, legs and knees so I can start running. I’ve been really wanting to start running and this week we are going to see if that’s possible.
I’ve also been using the radroller and foam roller. The lump in my neck is completely gone and I fixed my hunchback posture for 99%! Thanks to your tips and the builtlean website!
I am now back to your 8-week program and intent to finish it. The past 2 days I’ve been sore from the sideplank with rotation :). I’ve been doing push ups and can do 3 sets of 10 while before, I could do maybe 2 – not sets, single push ups!
You know what the hardest thing of it all is? It’s not the diet or constantly having to weigh and log everything. It’s not the exercises or setbacks I’ve been having. I’ve been having some motivational dips here and there and I’ve slacked some of the exercises now and then. But that’s to be expected, isn’t it? No, the really hard part is the constant nagging of friends and family telling me I’m good and I need to stop. Only 1or 2 seem to really understand or at least, show understanding. The fact that they have no idea what I’m trying to do, even though I’ve been trying to explain it, it just flies straight over their heads. I want to go down to around 10, maybe 12% body fat. I estimate another 8 to 10 pounds. I still have a good layer of fat covering my torso. I want to get a healthy, active lifestyle, regularly doing sports, running, cycling. I broke with my eating habits, I need to break with my sedentary lifestyle too. I’m looking at indoor climbing – just need a partner and I’ll go. When I talk about these plans people just look at me like I’m speaking in some alien language – and all they can say is that it’s not healthy for me, I’m too old and I can’t weigh less than 175 lbs! I can get so angry!! Everyone complements me on my weight loss and that great, really. But that’s the easy part. I could really use some understanding and support from my family for what I’m trying to accomplish, a few encouraging words and show some interest; but stop telling me I can’t do this! Alas, that’s too much to ask. It makes me sad and honestly, it hurts.
I’m 44. I’m not old but I feel old. Not because I’m getting old like everyone seems to like for an excuse not to be more active, but because I haven’t been active in the first place! I need to turn things around before it’s too late.
Here’s the thing: I’ve been working my ass off for the past 6 or 8 months. I don’t need people to tell me it’s “good enough”! I only 6 to 8 weeks to go to reach my weight loss goal. Like I’m going to quit now when I’m almost there? Not a chance! Good enough isn’t what I want! I have my mind set and I need to get there or I might as well just quit entirely and go back to my old lifestyle.
Because, isn’t that what this is about? It’s not about the number on the scale – because really, I don’t care whether it says 167 or 175. It’s about changing mentality and lifestyle. It’s about doing the right thing and those changes take time. Not weeks or months, not even a year – for the rest of life! Because some things will never change. I need to keep doing this. No, I want to keep doing this. Going back is not an option for me. Quitting is not an option but nobody seems to care and that hurts – great, now I’m crying too. This is really the hardest thing for me.
Anyways, no point in feeling sorry for myself. I realize I’m doing this for myself and nobody else so whether they like or not, in 6 to 8 weeks I’ll reach my weight loss goal. I’ll keep weighing my food and balance the macro nutritients. This year I can actually start thinking about training for a 1/4 triathlon – how awesome would that be? Keep setting goals and work on getting there.
Feels good to get this off my chest and hopefully, it will motivate others struggling with some of these issues as well.
Take care and thanks for reading!
Wow, this is an epic comment! Thanks for sharing your insights and your story, I do hope it inspires others. Of everything you discussed, what really stuck out at me is listening to your own inner voice and moving forward. It’s tough to have the courage to do so. And as you know 44 is NOT old at all. My dad is 70 years old and crushes 15 kettlebell swings in a row with a 53 pound kettlebell. It is disconcerting that so many people do not question cultural norms and conventional wisdom about aging, but the truth is that cultural norms can make people unhealthy and reduce quality of life. My opinion is you can become stronger, more flexible, and fitter as you age.
What happens if you don’t have the funds for a trainer or a program or well even equipment?? I want to get my body to be the way I want it to be….strong, lean, fit…but do not have the funds for anything. I could trade you a prophetic poem or three for you to come show me some things I could do at home in Florida?? eh?? 😉 (worth a shot! lol)
Hey A.J., while access to a coach / trainer in person would be great (even just for a few sessions), I think you can definitely use your own bodyweight to get lean and strong. It will take effort on your part.
1) Push Ups
2) Pull ups – plenty of parks have pull up bars, even kids playgrounds have pull up bars
3) Bodyweight squats
4) Running / Jogging – both flat and uphill
5) Yoga in general
I think a combination of these can help you get a functionally strong and fit body. In terms of how to apply it, keep things simple. Good luck!
Love your website and articles, I’m looking forward to reading more articles about functional fitness and incorporating them into my routine. As a natural sprinter who has trained pretty much since I was age 8 or 9 (I’m now 48) I love to read all the new scientific research around fitness and nutrition. I think variety is to key to all fitness and nutrition. I have always combined weights, cardio, HiTT and long slow walks/swims/bike rides for recovery.
When I initially subscribed I was a hit sceptical about paying, but it has definitely been worth it. Thanks again for all your great work, I look forward to another year of interesting articles. I haven’t checked out YouTube connections to this site, but that would be great too for form during push ups etc.