Diet, Weightlifting And Getting Back In Shape - Midlife Wakeup Call Part 1
Commit to things in life that will fuel your motivation to tighten up
your diet and workout program for a healthier you.
Bobby had just turned 40 years old and had been training with dumbbells and barbells for over 20 years. He played sports in college, and was in great shape then, with visible abs and a muscular physique. But as the years went by, his diet went to hell and body fat accumulated, a little each year, until now he was sitting at 25% body fat, a far cry from the 8-10% body fat that he carried in college. He first noticed just how poor his condition was when he stepped out of the shower one morning and looked in the bedroom full length mirror. He did not like what he saw. His once visible abs were now covered by a layer of fat and his once bold obliques were now replaced by love handles. He looked for the definition that he used to have in his legs, and the lines in his quads were barely visible. He realized that he needed to make a change. He then stepped on the bathroom scale and the numbers surprised him. He weighed in at 275 pounds. At 5’ 10”, that was a heavy load to carry.
As fate would have it, Bobby had recently received an invitation to his college reunion. At first, he was hesitant to attend, but now he saw that the reunion was the perfect excuse for him to get in shape, a solid date where he could get his physique tight and muscular. It had been years since he had been proud to take his shirt off to work outside or at the beach. He was determined to remedy that situation.
Bobby never stopped training with free weights over the years, he always had at least trained three days a week, whether in his garage or at the local gym. But his diet and cardio training was all over the place. He would have a few beers every night, and then a hoagie or maybe some spaghetti and meatballs or whatever leftovers he could find, followed later by some chips or cookies, or both.
He had a serious wakeup call when he visited his doctor for a checkup recently. He received a routine blood test, and a few days later, his doctor called him with the results. When the doctor called Bobby, he told him that he was borderline diabetic. “You need to get your ass in gear. Lose weight before you have to start insulin shots.”
Now he definitely needed to get serious.
Bobby knew what he had to do. He needed to call his Uncle Randy, who was a competitive bodybuilder. Randy was 58 years old, but stayed in great shape, always a few weeks out of being able to compete in a bodybuilding show. Randy’s story was similar to Bobby, he was a former athlete who let himself get out of shape, but turned himself around in his late 30’s and has been in shape ever since.
Bobby called his uncle and told him that he needed his help to reach his goal.
“Good, meet me at the diner for lunch at 11 and we will discuss the plan,” Randy said.
Bobby got to the diner early and ordered coffee for himself and Randy. He knew that his uncle would not be happy with Bobby’s current condition, so he wore some baggy clothes to hide the fact that he was so out of shape. When Randy walked in, he noticed that Randy was looking better than ever, with veins snaking up and down his arms and his quads bulging through his sweatpants.
Randy sat down. “So you ready to quit being a lard body?” Randy had a way with words. He was brutally truthful.
“Yes sir. I have 12 weeks until my college reunion.”
“Good. It will be a great experience for you. You will learn a whole lot about yourself.”
“Where do we start?” asked Bobby.
“Well, we need to design a diet for you.” Randy said. “You have some serious fat on you, so it won’t be easy, but you can do it.
“What will that consist of?” Bobby asked.
“What is your typical day of eating right now?”
“For breakfast I usually eat 2-4 eggs, bacon and a big glass of milk. Lunch is usually a slice or two of pizza or a meatball hoagie with a soda. Dinner is steak or hamburgers and green beans or pasta. Late night snacks are a bunch of junk; chips and cookies and beer.”
“Are you doing any cardio?” Randy asked.
“No, just weightlifting.”
“Wow, you are lucky to be walking around. That's not so great, nephew. We are gonna change it up some. First off, let’s get on the cardio. Let's add 2, 30 minute sessions of cardio training, seven days a week. You don’t have to kill yourself with the cardio. Just walk or get on the exercise bike and break a sweat. Do the first session when you wake up and the second session after your last meal.
As far as your diet goes, we need to make some changes. Drop the bacon and have your 4 eggs and add a medium sweet potato to that first meal. Cut out the milk and have water instead. For your second meal, have a chicken breast and the other half of a sweet potato. Have a huge salad with a bunch of vegetables in it. For dressing, have oil and vinegar.
The next 2 meals should be 1 hamburger patty and as many vegetables as you want. Oh yeah, and have a medium sweet potato with the third meal, but just burger and veggies for the last meal.” Randy explained. “You will lose at least two pounds the first week from those small changes.”
“That’s great,” Bobby said.
“Listen, you must be consistent with all of the diet stuff. The training and the cardio are important, but the diet is the key right now. You should see daily changes as the weeks go on. The first week or so, your motivation will be high, after that, it starts to wane. That is when discipline comes in. That is when you have to do it even though you may not feel like it. Stay focused on your goal.”
Bobby nodded his head and said, “I am ready for this, it has been too long since I have been in shape.”
“Each week, I will check out your physique and make changes to the diet and the cardio accordingly.” Randy said.
“Should I adjust my training in the weight room?” Bobby asked.
“No reason too. The goals should be to keep training heavy. Most people drop their weights way down when they start a serious diet and they lose the muscle that they worked so hard to gain. Big mistake. We will stay as heavy as you can for as long as we can.”
“Sounds good. Will I switch from squats to more isolation movements?” Bobby asked.
“That’s pretty much nonsense,” Randy answered. “The diet is what gives you definition. That plus the cardo will etch the cuts in there.”
“There’s nothing wrong with doing assistance exercises like leg extensions and leg curls but we will still stay with the more ‘bang for your buck’ exercises like barbell squats and front squats. We will make sure you hit those hamstrings hard, though. We will add a few more Romanian deadlifts and leg curls. But we aren’t doing that to add cuts.”
“We aren’t?” Bobby asked. “I thought squats build mass and leg extensions brought out definition.”
“Well that’s what they thought way back when, and that myth is still around today. But let’s think about it. How can lifting weights burn off fat? You aren’t burning many calories! Better to just lift heavy and hard and diet and do cardio to get those cuts.” Randy said.
“I get it, Bobby said, stay heavy with the weights and let the diet and cardio do the work.”
“Have another cup of coffee and get your mind right. We are going to the gym next.”
Part 2- The Process Begins (coming soon)
About The Author. Jim Steel has been immersed in athletics and the Iron Game for most of his life. He has been a college football player and coach, powerlifter, Muay Thai fighter and is currently a competitive bodybuilder. In 1999, Steel was named Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coordinator at the University of Pennsylvania, and moved up to Head Strength and Conditioning Coordinator in 2004. He is the owner of the blog basbarbell.com and is a motivational speaker, frequent podcast guest and the author of two books, Basbarbell Book of Programs and Steel Reflections. Steel is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Jim Steel is co-host of the RAW with Marty Gallagher Podcast along with Marty Gallagher and J.P. Brice and is a monthly content contributor at IRON COMPANY.