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The right tools for the job

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

There are a number of tools I’m using in my quest to flatten my paunch. The main point of most of these tools is to help maintain motivation, but some also help with actual weight loss, avoiding injury and generally being healthy. Here’s a brief summary of all the tools I’m currently using:

Items

While a gym membership would probably be ideal, the convenience of having everything I need at or around my home lowers my ‘minimum motivation level’ required for me to take action.

Dumbbells

I’ve found that doing weights has been incredibly important. There’s nothing more motivating than seeing muscle definition in the mirror. It has also helped my confidence and self esteem — feeling strong is very empowering.

My dumbbell set was originally 20kg: each dummbell bar (including the nuts) weigh 2kg and they came with enough 1.5kg and 2.5kg plates to make each bell 10kg. I got it from Rebel Sport for $50 (on sale, of course). For Christmas I received 4x5kg plates, making it a 40kg set.

Scales

My girlfriend bought me some digital weight scales so I can see how heavy I am. While checking the scales every day is a bad idea due to weight fluctuations from fluid retention, clothing, etc. it’s good to have an idea of how much I weigh for BMI calculation and measurement of progress.

These scales also try to measure my body fat percentage and other things but I don’t think it’s very accurate so I just ignore them.

Tape Measure

I picked up a tailor’s tape measure for $1.89 at Kmart. This has let me measure things like my chest, waist, hips and thigh. The ratios of some of these dimensions can indicate health problems, but I mainly just record it to track my progress for motivational purposes.

Running Shoes

Running is hard work. Deciding to go for a run is even harder. Removing as many excuses as possible has helped me run more often. The biggest help for this has come from getting a good pair of running shoes.

I went into The Athletes Foot and got my tread pattern analysed and my measurements taken. I ended up with a pair of snug-fitting Brooks shoes that are very comfortable to run in. They put a spring in my step reduce the strain my feet are subject to from running on pavement.

Web Sites

There are a number of web sites listed in the ‘resources’ section that I use. Here’s a brief run-down of them.

Scooby’s Workshop

Since I don’t have a gym membership I have had to learn how to make the most out of my dummbells. The best resource I have found to do this is Scoobys Home Bodybuilding Workouts.

Scooby is built like a tank after half a lifetime of honest weight lifting. On his site he shares a lot of his experience, with particular emphasis on DIY setups for people who don’t go to a gym. His videos are very motivating and he’s always careful to show how to do the routines with good form to avoid injury. He has a wealth of information on there aside from lifting routines, including workout plans, nutrition advice and myth-busting.

Joe’s Goals

Before I started using this site, I didn’t realise how little exercise I was actually doing. Time goes by so quickly and it’s hard to fit exercise into the day.

This site lets me track my activities throughout the week so I can see how long it’s been since I went on a run or did some weight lifting. You can assign different points to different activities, but 3F">the points don’t matter — they just make me feel good. For example, I assign 5 points for a run, since a run requires a lot more motivation than just doing a few sets of curls (1 point).

You can also produce a graph of your points to put on your web site. You should be able to see mine over on the right. The higher that green line is, the better I have been 😉

CalorieKing

This is your one-stop site for tracking how much energy you put into your body as well as how your body changes over time.

It has a comprehensive food database that allows you to record what you’ve eaten each day. It can also take into account the exercise you’ve done, your target weight and other stats to calculate your calorie target.

It also has weekly check-ins, where you record your weight and measurements and can see pretty graphs showing how they change over time. It’s very motivating seeing the negative gradients on those lines!

Limes & Lycopene

While not as active as it used to be, this blog of Sydney nutritionist Kathryn Elliott is filled with useful information about, well, nutrition. She also talks about what foods are in season and meal ideas.

Good nutrition is something that I find quite difficult, but it’s a vital piece of the puzzle. This blog has helped open my mind about deciding what foods to put into my mouth. Sneaking in the recommended five servings of vegies every day is very hard, but this site has helped me get closer.