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Getting fit/into shape for the first time. watch

    • Thread Starter


    21 year old male here, and after 3 years of excessive alcohol consumption and the general attack of the university lifestyle upon my body, I think its time to try and get fit and in shape.

    Basically, I'm about 6'2/6'3 and naturally quite skinny - ie when I was 18ish you could still see my ribs etc without me ever really working out or watching what I eat. However, the last 3 years I've started to develop a beer belly etc - not fat but its noticeable with certain clothes and generally flabby, and its starting to get noticeable on the moob area which I'm not a fan of! Weigh about 14ish stone (maybe a couple lbs more) but the number on the scale doesn't bother me really.

    A couple months before Christmas I started going swimming 3 times a week for about 3 weeks in an attempt to gradually build it up to more intense gym sessions. Just wanted to try and build up some fitness first and I don't mind swimming.

    Basically, I would really like some pretty specific advice on the best way to go about this.

    I have never set foot in a gym. In fact, I never really go out of my way to do exercise. The only real source of exercise my body gets is a 15 minute powerwalk to work every morning to avoid being late! Which is better than nothing I suppose. However, despite this lack of exercise, I'm surprised I'm not more unfit - although could definitely feel a lot fitter. And hopefully getting fit will in general make me feel better (not saying I'm depressed but you can never have too much of a good thing)!

    So I guess there are two things I need to look at: diet and exercise.

    In terms of diet, I don't particularly eat healthily. The culture at my workplace is quite bad, although I'm better than a lot of people there who eat chocolate/confectionary and drink fizzy or energy drinks literally ALL day long. However, we pop into the chinese maybe once or twice a week and then have something like subway once or twice a week then the other days just get a sandwich or whatever. I usually try to have fruit as a snack on second break at about 3pm also. In terms of alcohol, prior to Christmas we would visit the pub a few times a week (maybe 3) amounting to between 6 and 12 pints a week, with an additional heavy night out most Saturdays. I think giving up convenient and tasty food will be the hardest thing! I would hate to give it up totally and if people think its necessary at least like to have the freedom of a lunch or two that is entirely 'free choice' if its possible to get fit with this still in the diet! I have heard alcohol is also the worst thing though, but is it really necessary to give up a couple of pints after work each week/a night out at the weekend? In terms of dinner, if alone I normally just cook some pasta or get a quick ready meal (have been trying to have soup more often on these nights). There's probs 2/3 nights a week where the GF comes over and we eat badly (either ready meal or takeaway). Once again giving up on what I want to eat/drink etc would be the one thing I would rather not have to give up on if possible! Is it possible to get toned whilst eating like that? If not, how much harder does it really make it?

    In terms of exercise, as stated I have never been to the gym before. I have literally no idea what I would need to do in there! So where to start? As I said, I don't mind swimming and have always heard its a good form of excercise. I would really like to tone up, especially on the abs and secondly the pecs, and I presume things like arms will naturally follow that? All the while of course fitness will be a nice thing to build up and hopefully make me feel much better in general. The thing about swimming, is the swimming pool I go to is not open for the general public at the time I finish work (7pm) until 9pm, which isnt a problem as it gives me an excuse to read for 2 hours before swimming for an hour at 9. But there is one of those 24 hour gyms just round the corner from work which may be a better option.

    So, taking all this into account, could people please advise me as to what is the best way to first of all get toned, primarily in the abs, pecs and arms (in that order of preference) in a decent amount of time and without too much sacrificing what I like to eat? I really wonder if diet makes THAT much of a difference if the correct exercise is in place? So if people could suggest what exercise to do and when (remember I have done none for a long time at first), and then if needed a suggestion of diet (taking into account what I said in the above paragraph on this - ie lunches/dinner and when I can have what I want etc/how often). I am moving to a new town/job in late March/early April, so would like to see what kind of difference I could make by then. What do you guys think is achievable by then? Would feel good for the slim fit shirts that now are unwearable when I sit down due to a flabby stomach to fit again!!

    Many thanks to you all. Sorry for such a long post, I am just new to this and have many questions. Hopefully some of you can give some detailed suggestions.
    • Study Helper

    Study Helper
    First thing's first, you should really read the FAQ. All of your questions are answered there. Glad to see you want to make the journey to improve yourself!

    No, you can't eat like **** and end up with a good body. That's why you're getting fat. This doesn't mean you have to eat 100% healthy food all the time, but getting fat is simply a matter of consuming too many calories. Figure out your TDEE, and eat at a caloric deficit. To do this, you just need to use a TDEE calculator, eat less than what that says, and then adjust your caloric intake based on the results you see on the scale.
    You can still indulge in take-away food or whatever now and again, but having it multiple times a week combined with loads of alcohol is why you're putting on weight. The basics really is that as long as you eat a caloric deficit, you're fine and can eat a bit of junk food if you want. The problem is that a lot of junk food is very calorie dense, so eating it often drastically increases your caloric intake. It's the same with alcohol. There's no problem with enjoying some now and again, but "6-12 pints a week + a heavy night" is excessive, but you already know this.

    Eating to lose weight isn't complicated. Calorie deficit = weight loss.

    For exercise, any kind of exercise will help increase your TDEE. If you enjoy swimming, just keep swimming and pushing yourself to improve in that area. If you want to try something else, literally any form of cardio is a good adjuvant to lifting. Most people try running (and the couch to 5K programme is a good place to start if you're unfit), but you might enjoy something else like cycling. Just do whatever you enjoy!

    If you want to build muscle ("get toned"), you're going to have to lift. Any beginner programme will do, have a flick through the FAQ or read around on the internet and pick one you like the look of. That "toned" look you're thinking of is a composite of having a high lean body mass and a low body fat %.

    There's no easy way to get fit. It's a long-term lifestyle change, and thinking about trying to get fit as fast as possible is counter-productive. You're playing the long game here. It's a marathon. Stick with it and reap the benefits! You can lose a fair amount of weight in a few months, and can easily see a difference by then if you stick to it. 1-2lbs/week is the usual weight loss goal for most people. Good luck!
    • Thread Starter

    Thanks for the reply

    I just don't wanna always have to worry about what I eat. lol probably impossible to do that though. And not too worried about being on a 'diet' per se, just would like to get a bit toned. Do you think I can achieve this without worrying about losing a couple of lbs a week or whatever? It's not that I feel/think I am fat, would just like to be slightly more toned. Thanks.
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