There are any number of reasons that a person can become badly overweight but no matter what the cause, it’s something that needs to be fixed as soon as possible. Being overweight will not only damage your self-esteem and your happiness in general but it will also place a serious strain on your health and increase your likelihood of developing heart disease, diabetes, joint pains and numerous other conditions. The longer you put off doing something about it, the worse it’s going to get, so it’s crucial that you do something to fix the issue…
And that means you should go to the gym, right?
Here are some of the biggest reasons that someone who is overweight shouldn’t get a gym membership. At least not right away…
You Won’t Go
The biggest and most important reason not to get a gym membership if you’re very overweight, is that chances are you’re not going to go. If you’re very overweight then you will be low on energy compared to someone who is in good shape and this means right away you’ll need to be very motivated to actually prepare your gym kit, leave the house, travel to the gym, work out, shower and then come home. That’s a ton of work and time and when you’re already feeling exhausted and low on energy… well it’s just not going to happen.
Another reason that someone very overweight often won’t make it to the gym, is that they will often be quite self-conscious of the fact that they’re in bad shape. It’s not something to be ashamed of – as mentioned there are many factors that contribute to weight gain – but that doesn’t mean you’re going to feel confident on the running machine in your skimpiest outfit while everyone around you looks like they belong on the cover of a magazine. Again, when you’re already feeling tired and demotivated, are you really going to subject yourself to that?
So while you might sign up to a gym with the very best of intentions, your chances of actually going and sticking to it are very slim.
Most People Do it Wrong
Now let’s imagine that you do manage to stick to your intentions and go to the gym regularly despite all of the factors that are weighing against you. Chances are that you’re going to head over to the running machine and then jog on that for about 40 minutes. This is what most people do after all.
Following this, you might head over to the weights machine and curl/press some weights for three sets of ten with a nice big pause in between each set. The whole thing will take about an hour and a half, but will never have looked all that vigorous or all that intense.
Again, this won’t necessarily be the case for you, but it is what most new people in the gym do. And unfortunately the fact of the matter is that this approach just doesn’t work. In that hour and a half you’ll have barely burned off the equivalent of a Mars bar, and because you’ll be hungrier now you’ll probably eat that many calories extra for dinner. You’re spinning your wheels… is it any wonder that people get demotivated when they first start going to the gym?
You Might Hurt Yourself
On the other hand, if you do increase the intensity and start really putting the time and effort in, then there’s a good chance that you’re just going to injure yourself. When you’re overweight this becomes much easier to do, and sprinting on a treadmill or lifting heavy weights is potentially a recipe for disaster. The intensity you’d need in the gym in order to see real results, probably isn’t all that safe at this point.
So What Do You Do?
The first thing to do, is to recognise that exercise is a much smaller part of the equation as compared with diet. Changing what you eat should be your number one strategy, and specifically this should mean eating fewer calories overall and specifically fewer simple carbs. There are plenty of great diet strategies that work, but I would personally recommend increasing your intake of protein to fill you up and to get your body working, and to otherwise just find ways to cut the calories out of your diet. Be strict and disciplined with yourself – you don’t need to feel good. Just man up and deal with being hungry or craving sweet things.
That’s step one, but you should still ideally try to combine this with an exercise regime at some point. The main difference is that this training routine should be one you do at home. Working out at home takes half the amount of time and half the amount of energy and you won’t be on show to everyone.
To make this effective the exercise you should be doing should be short and sharp: the idea is to aim for maximum efficiency so that you raise your heart rate and create some microtears in the muscle in the minimal possible time. Use interval training so that you’re switching between fast bursts of exercise and short periods of ‘active recovery’, try investing in something like a kettlebell which will provide you with a great form of resistance cardio you can do quickly at home, and use full-body exercises in high volume to put your body in a fat-burning, muscle-building mode. Some of this will require research.
Start off slow(ish) so that you get out of breath but so that you aren’t putting yourself at any risk of injury. Over time you will build up enough base-level fitness and strength that you can then try tackling a slightly more challenging program – at which point you could look into something like ‘Insanity Workout’. Don’t pay for it though, there are equivalents online that are completely free.
And to help see even faster results, I highly recommend joining some kind of class or sport that you enjoy – be that dancing, five aside or rock climbing. This will get you out the house in a way that’s enjoyable and it will get your body used to moving. The social pressure of seeing friends will help you to avoid missing sessions, and when you combine it with regular, efficient home workouts and a great diet, you’ll find that the weight starts to fall off. Don’t focus on the goals you’re trying to reach though, just stick at it, monitor your progress and stick with it for the long haul.
Once you’re in good shape and you want to get into great shape, then it’s time to get a gym membership…