Exercise for the oversubscribed, how to get and stay healthy in 2013 and beyond.

I’ve been a pretty active person for a long as I can remember.  I try to stay physically fit and have done a lot of competing in my life.  Triathlons, 5k, 10k, century bike rides, submission grappling tournaments, boxing…..lets just say I like to get out and push myself.  I’ve trained with several guys that fought in the UFC….granted, they kicked my rear….but that doesn’t change the ffeact that I worked with them over the course of the last 10 years of my training.

Exercise is my stress relief and I turn into a real grump when don’t get to work out.
Now that I’m older and have more responsibility, the days of 3 hours at the gym and 50 mile training rides are gone.  At the time of this writing I’m a month from 38 years old and I have a 1 year old and a 4 year old at home, a full time job and a list of consulting gigs to do after hours.  In addition, I need to keep up to date, read, blog and generally not stagnate in any aspect of my life.    Some of these things alone are a tall order, add them together in addition to being a dad and husband and there isn’t much time left over.  I’ve had to drop hobbies like home brewing beer, attending my jiu jitsu / wrestling class, and until recently, any kind of regular scheduled exercise.
This is really not an acceptable model to me since I rely on exercise for stress relief.  I needed something manageable that worked within my already packed schedule.  To that end, I’ve had to adopt a modified exercise routine using what I’ve learned over the past 20 years of being active.   I realize that this may not work for some people, I know how my body responds and what my thresholds are for heart rate, metabolism and endurance.  Your mileage may vary.
First things first.  Lets put any unreasonable ideas aside.  I’m essentially 38 years old, and while I’m in pretty decent shape, I’m probably never going to have 6 pack abs again.  I’m not going to be shredded like brad pitt in fight club.

And that’s ok, I really just want to be healthy and feel good.  Second, set some reasonable expectations.  Not goals.  Expectations.  I wanted to work out 5-6 times a week, but I’d be happy with 4.  I’m older and my body needs a tad longer to recover and things come up that may prevent work out time.  All of these exercises can be done with stuff around your house or that are reasonably obtainable.  Although my entire basement is essentially a gym, I have used a lot of the techniques promoted on this site.  This guy is an interesting character but his methods and reasonings are sound and sensible.  I don’t want to be a bodybuilder, so I don’t follow what he says per se, but his ideas on form and mechanics are very good.  For me, it’s not about being buff, lifting the most weight or proving how strong I am, and I think I’m with the majority on that one.  For me, it’s about feeling good.  That’s my expectation. I want to do this to feel better and have more energy.  That being said here is my ever evolving plan and my 10,000′ view of my workout schedule:

Method: hybrid circuit training.  Pick 3 – 4 exercises and cycle continuously through 8-10 reps of each for the duration of the workout (15-20 minutes).  3 exercises 15 minutes, 4 for 20 minutes.  Get creative, mix them up.  Use enough weight to make it a bit difficult, but low enough that you can achieve as perfect form as possible.  Don’t just grab weight and try to rip through the sets.  Take your time, do the reps slowly and concentrate on form.

Schedule: 5-6 times a week, be happy with 4. 15 to 20 minutes.  Set a timer. Cycle through the circuit of exercises.  Make one day a week of intense cardio for 15 minutes.  I like intervals.  You can do interval sprints on a bike or running or on stairs, 1 minute at peak, 2 minutes recovery.  I like running stairs, everyone can find some and they’re always a challenge.  Walking them briskly works too until you can work up to running them.

Work large muscle groups.  Shoulders, back, chest, legs.  The rest works itself in if your form is good.  Thrown in abs if you really feel you have to, but keeping good form implies you’re keeping a tight core.
My go to stuff is military press, push press, push-ups, flat flys, incline flys, dips, squats, cleans, front squats, pull ups.  Nearly all can be done with dumbbells or with stuff available around the house or than can be inexpensively purchased.

Diet.  This one is the easies to say and the hardest to do.  Don’t eat garbage.  Moderation.  I don’t eat much processed food anyway since it disagrees with my body, so it’s pretty easy for me.  My go to meals are generally lots of lean protein.  Chicken, fish, turkey.  Lots of greens.  Spinach salads,  broccoli, pretty much any vegetable.  We want our kids to eat healthy as well, so this works out for us.  They eat what we eat.  Making multiple meals is a pain and isn’t reasonable for us, so we all eat the same meals.  I don’t eat out much, but if I do I try to make smart choices.  I take snacks with me.  Always. Lots of nuts and seeds, a protein bar, bananas.  For breakfast we eat a lot of hard boiled eggs, plain oatmeal with fruit or protein smoothies. The kids call them milkshakes. Eat lots of fresh fruits.  Drop the soda.  It’s empty calories and terrible for you.  Drink lots of water.  Moderate or cut out alcohol.  I have cut my beer consumption down quite a bit, which was difficult since I like good beer but but it’s not impossible.  Cut out the extra sugar, it’s also empty calories.  I like to get plain greek yogurt and add a few blueberries or a tiny bit of honey. It’s a filling high protein snack.

Don’t over do it.  Know when your body has had enough.  Let yourself recover.  I used to be terrible at overtraining, I felt like I had to train every day regardless of how I felt.  It takes longer to recover now, but recovery is necessary.  Don’t overlook it.

Be able to adapt.  If your expectations were a little to high or too low, just adjust them.  There is no failure if you actually try.  If you run short on time, walk the stairs in your office building for 15 minutes before or after work or over lunch.  Get outside and do a brisk walk over lunch.  I’ll often run the stairs in my parking garage at 4:30 if I think I’m not going to have time at home.

Rest.  Get enough sleep.  I’m not good at this one but you’ll feel far better if you sleep enough.  Most people need 8 hours.  I need about 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep…I generally get 5.  I’m working on this one.

Post your thoughts and results.   Talk about it.  Adjust.  I guarantee if you try you’ll fee better.  No pressure.  Have fun and wait for the results to happen because they will.  Who doesn’t have 15 minutes a day?

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