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  1. #1
    Registered User klute77's Avatar
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    Is this an effective start for an obese beginner?

    Hello all,

    I am a female, 37, 5 foot 5 inches and weight about 225lbs. I have been very overweight like this for about 10 years. I do have a neurological condition, and the drugs I take to control that are linked to weight gain, not an excuse I know but its an additional factor. I have tried several programs to lose weigth in the past usually based around calorie restriction and cardio which have never worked for me, pure calorie restriction has not worked for me either. After doing a lot of research I have decided to try strength training along as a basis for my exercise along with a more moderate reduction in calories i.e. 1800 kals a day. I am a bit confused as to how my programme should be put together.

    I was thinking of something like this:

    Initial beginners programme:

    Every morning before working out drink a cup of Matcha green tea

    Mon: Fasted Cardio moderate / low intensity for 60 mins (Walking uphill on treadmill or cross trainer)
    Tue: Fasted Cardio moderate / low intensity for 40 mins followed by full body weight training session on gym machines
    Wed: Fasted Cardio moderate / low intensity for 60 mins
    Thursday: Fasted Cardio moderate / low intensity for 40 mins followed by full body weight training session on gym machines
    Friday: Fasted Cardio moderate / low intensity for 60 mins

    Post workout: Eat breakfast of eggs or Greek yogurt or a smoothie with protein powder.

    In Addition: try to keep activity levels up during the day to 10,000 steps and eat a diet of approx 1800 kals a day. Currently at the weekend I don’t have the time to go to the gym but I will aim to keep my activity higher and will add in an additional gym session at the weekend when I can.

    This is just my initial total beginner’s plan I know that the weight machines are not well regarded but I’m really not ready to go straight to free weights or even body weight resistance, I need to lose weight and build a bit of strength before I can do that. I will do an additional strength training day as I improve in a few weeks and as I progress I will do more eventually graduating to free weights. The same applies to HIIT I know its good but right now I just don't have the fitness for it and I am too heavy however it is something I will look to add in to my programme after the first month or so when I am feeling a little fitter and stronger.

    I want to try the fasted cardio because I did in my 20’s have good results with that but I am not sure about doing weights in a fasted state. I have to do them directly after my cardio so should I have some kind of snack prior to doing weights and if so what?

    I should point out here I have been vegetarian for 25 years for ethical reasons and do not eat any kind of meat or fish.

    My goals are to lose a lot of weight about 80lbs without looking like a saggy, baggy mess, I am terrified of loose skin and concern about this has been a deterrent for me as I cannot afford surgery to fix it. I am prepared to take it slow and eat well but I do need to see some results to keep motivated. My goal weight is around 147lb. I am interested in the way weight lifting can reshape the body but it is not my goal to become a fitness model just to get to a healthy weight and stay there before I am 40!

    Any help, advice and feedback would be gratefully received.
    Last edited by klute77; 01-29-2015 at 03:23 PM.
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  2. #2
    Registered User PoppySeed84's Avatar
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    I am not a pro but I've been carrying my weight for about a year and a half before that I was 165 for 6 months then before that I was 120. I used to workout 4-5 days a week in the gym but totally stopped after my divorce which crushed me. I am also on meds too but from what I hear medications make you gain weight initially and then you can lose weight once you platue.

    I think you could get away with just cardio for 45 minutes and doing weights by separating the muscle groups 3x a week. This is what I'm planning on doing and it worked before when I was 180 and had to lose baby weight after my first son. I just haven't had the motivation or will to do this yet.

    Mon: Ab's, tri's, chest, ham's 30-45 min cardio

    Tue: 45 minutes cardio

    Wed: Back, Bi, Abs 30-45 min cardio

    Thur: 45 min cardio

    Fri: Glutes 45 min cardio


    That's a good basic plan with eating 1600-1400 calories per day. 1800 calories is too high. Cutting out carbs is what my plan is accept for 1/2 cup of quinoa pasta or quinoa or brown rice plus a carb at breakfast and 1-2 pieces of fruit.

    The best plan I was ever on was carb cycling where you make your carbs go from low/no, med, high and cycle them on the different days of the week, fasted cardio, and the Steve Poynter's Psychotic fat burning plan.
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    Registered User oregonchick76's Avatar
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    At 100 lbs overweight, you need to figure out how to eat an appropriate number of calories and healthy balance of macros.
    I do believe you when you say the medication was a factor, but to gain 100 lbs you did in fact have to eat quite a bit over maintenance for quite a long time to achieve that.

    You are strong enough to use machines, then you are strong enough to use free weights - start with body weight exercises or light weight DB's.

    If you are tracking your calories accurately, you most definitely will lose weight at 1800 calories per day.
    I would do weights before cardio.
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    Registered User klute77's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by PoppySeed84 View Post
    I am not a pro but I've been carrying my weight for about a year and a half before that I was 165 for 6 months then before that I was 120. I used to workout 4-5 days a week in the gym but totally stopped after my divorce which crushed me. I am also on meds too but from what I hear medications make you gain weight initially and then you can lose weight once you platue.

    I think you could get away with just cardio for 45 minutes and doing weights by separating the muscle groups 3x a week. This is what I'm planning on doing and it worked before when I was 180 and had to lose baby weight after my first son. I just haven't had the motivation or will to do this yet.

    Mon: Ab's, tri's, chest, ham's 30-45 min cardio

    Tue: 45 minutes cardio

    Wed: Back, Bi, Abs 30-45 min cardio

    Thur: 45 min cardio

    Fri: Glutes 45 min cardio


    That's a good basic plan with eating 1600-1400 calories per day. 1800 calories is too high. Cutting out carbs is what my plan is accept for 1/2 cup of quinoa pasta or quinoa or brown rice plus a carb at breakfast and 1-2 pieces of fruit.

    The best plan I was ever on was carb cycling where you make your carbs go from low/no, med, high and cycle them on the different days of the week, fasted cardio, and the Steve Poynter's Psychotic fat burning plan.
    Thanks for your reply your excercise plan looks good.

    The reason I wanted to start at 1800 kals a day was to give me options to reduce further in a month or so as I have a lot of weight to lose (80lbs for a goal of 147lbs) so see myself going down to 1700 kals, then 1600 kals and so on every month or so to a minimum of about 1200 kals I don't want to go lower than that.

    I'm a veggie so very low carb, high protein is difficult for me and I also feel awful on it. I plan to eat clean whole foods, low GI with loads of veggies and increase my plant based protein as well as adding in a protein supplement if needed. The carb cycling looks interesting, I will read up on that. I do want to keep things simple to begin with but I know I might need to mix things up as I go along to keep my weight going down.

    Thanks again!
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    Registered User klute77's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by oregonchick76 View Post
    At 100 lbs overweight, you need to figure out how to eat an appropriate number of calories and healthy balance of macros.
    I do believe you when you say the medication was a factor, but to gain 100 lbs you did in fact have to eat quite a bit over maintenance for quite a long time to achieve that.

    You are strong enough to use machines, then you are strong enough to use free weights - start with body weight exercises or light weight DB's.

    If you are tracking your calories accurately, you most definitely will lose weight at 1800 calories per day.
    I would do weights before cardio.
    Thank you for replying I really appreciate it!

    I guess I am 100lbs overweight but getting to 147lbs would put me in the healthy weight range so my initial goal is to lose 80lbs not 100lbs. Yes I did eat a lot, my illness and medication are part of what caused my lack of exercise and over eating but of course poor mental attitude and sheer laziness were also major players, I do not deny that.

    I appreciate what you are saying about free weights but embarrassment is also a big factor. I am not really mentally or emotionally ready to go to the free weight section of the gym where everyone is buff, I'm going out my comfort zone massively already. The machines feel do-able for me. I could try a resistance dvd at home? I currently could do some squats or lunges but I can't hold my body weight with my arms as in a press up.

    If I do weights prior to cardio can I do both in a fasted state?
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  6. #6
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    Originally Posted by klute77 View Post
    Thank you for replying I really appreciate it!

    I guess I am 100lbs overweight but getting to 147lbs would put me in the healthy weight range so my initial goal is to lose 80lbs not 100lbs. Yes I did eat a lot, my illness and medication are part of what caused my lack of exercise and over eating but of course poor mental attitude and sheer laziness were also major players, I do not deny that.

    I appreciate what you are saying about free weights but embarrassment is also a big factor. I am not really mentally or emotionally ready to go to the free weight section of the gym where everyone is buff, I'm going out my comfort zone massively already. The machines feel do-able for me. I could try a resistance dvd at home? I currently could do some squats or lunges but I can't hold my body weight with my arms as in a press up.

    If I do weights prior to cardio can I do both in a fasted state?
    I totally get the embarrassment factor. Even as newbie at a healthy weight I was terrified to go into the gym and lift weights. I ended up hiring a trainer, mostly as a 'tour guide', lol. You can start with the machines, but many of them are just garbage. You need to understand how your body works and how resistance training works and then you can better utilize the machines. Though quite frankly, ANYTHING you do right now, coupled with a decent deficit, is going to yield consistent results.

    For now I'd recommend a full body routine 3-4 times per week. You don't want to do a lot of isolation work at this point, but focus on compound movements - if you were lifting free weights, we'd say squat, deadlift, overhead press, bench press, row, chin ups.

    Since you are on machines, I'd say a chest press of some sort, an overhead press of some sort, a rowing movement (horizontal pull), a lat pulldown movement (vertical pull), and leg presses.
    None of that adductor/abductor garbage, bicep curls, crunch machines, etc. I would do circuits of the above suggested exercises, maybe 2-4 sets of 8-15 reps.

    It's fine to train fasted, although there is no evidence that you will lose fat faster in that state. If at some point you start to feel tanked during your workouts, I'd probably eat a bit. But I train fasted most of the time. I do tend to eat directly afterwards though.
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    Registered User vhenley164's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by oregonchick76 View Post
    I totally get the embarrassment factor. Even as newbie at a healthy weight I was terrified to go into the gym and lift weights. I ended up hiring a trainer, mostly as a 'tour guide', lol. You can start with the machines, but many of them are just garbage. You need to understand how your body works and how resistance training works and then you can better utilize the machines. Though quite frankly, ANYTHING you do right now, coupled with a decent deficit, is going to yield consistent results.

    For now I'd recommend a full body routine 3-4 times per week. You don't want to do a lot of isolation work at this point, but focus on compound movements - if you were lifting free weights, we'd say squat, deadlift, overhead press, bench press, row, chin ups.

    Since you are on machines, I'd say a chest press of some sort, an overhead press of some sort, a rowing movement (horizontal pull), a lat pulldown movement (vertical pull), and leg presses.
    None of that adductor/abductor garbage, bicep curls, crunch machines, etc. I would do circuits of the above suggested exercises, maybe 2-4 sets of 8-15 reps.

    It's fine to train fasted, although there is no evidence that you will lose fat faster in that state. If at some point you start to feel tanked during your workouts, I'd probably eat a bit. But I train fasted most of the time. I do tend to eat directly afterwards though.
    ^^^Really good advice
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    Everything OregonChick76 said is spot on so take that advice and run with it.

    I train fasted 99.999% of the time because it works for me, but it doesn't work for everyone and there's nothing magical about it like people seem to want to believe. It works for me because I workout in the mornings before work and a morning person I am not. So I'm not getting up even earlier than I already have to to force myself to eat something. The other thing for me is that food in my stomach tends to make me nauseous when lifting. Some people are the total opposite and HAVE to eat before working out or they feel like death and have no energy. So everyone is different. You just have to find what works best for you, which comes with trial and error.

    As far as the diet goes, I think 1800 is a good place to start. You are right that you want to start higher so you have somewhere to go when it comes time to drop calories lower. As you lose more weight and get closer to your goal, it gets harder and you'll probably stall out. This way, you have something to work with. If you were to start at 1400 or somewhere in that ballpark, you wouldn't have much wiggle room to drop when you need to, you'll be starving all the time from the get go, and this is how most people set themselves up for failure because they are completely miserable from day one. So start at 1800, stick with it until the scale stops moving, then drop 50 calories or so, and stick with that until the scale stops moving, etc. There is no need to worry about carb cycling or anything like that with where you are now. That kind of thing only comes into play when you are already lean and looking to get peeled. At this point, a simple deficit and a solid routine are all you need. And if you feel like crap on low carbs, don't go low carb. A lot of people feel like hell on low carb diets. You should have no problems meeting your protein goals as a veggie. Do you eat eggs and/or dairy? That makes it really easy. If not, it can be done but it does require a little more work to make sure you're getting complete proteins, but it's not out of the realm of possibility at all. Good luck, OP
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    Originally Posted by IrishLassie78 View Post
    Some people are the total opposite and HAVE to eat before working out or they feel like death and have no energy. So everyone is different. You just have to find what works best for you, which comes with trial and error.
    Totally agree - I can't handle working out when I am hungry, I feel weak and lack motivation.

    Just do what works for you - there is no magic formula, just less calories
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    Originally Posted by oregonchick76 View Post
    I totally get the embarrassment factor. Even as newbie at a healthy weight I was terrified to go into the gym and lift weights. I ended up hiring a trainer, mostly as a 'tour guide', lol. You can start with the machines, but many of them are just garbage. You need to understand how your body works and how resistance training works and then you can better utilize the machines. Though quite frankly, ANYTHING you do right now, coupled with a decent deficit, is going to yield consistent results.

    For now I'd recommend a full body routine 3-4 times per week. You don't want to do a lot of isolation work at this point, but focus on compound movements - if you were lifting free weights, we'd say squat, deadlift, overhead press, bench press, row, chin ups.

    Since you are on machines, I'd say a chest press of some sort, an overhead press of some sort, a rowing movement (horizontal pull), a lat pulldown movement (vertical pull), and leg presses.
    None of that adductor/abductor garbage, bicep curls, crunch machines, etc. I would do circuits of the above suggested exercises, maybe 2-4 sets of 8-15 reps.

    It's fine to train fasted, although there is no evidence that you will lose fat faster in that state. If at some point you start to feel tanked during your workouts, I'd probably eat a bit. But I train fasted most of the time. I do tend to eat directly afterwards though.
    Thank you so much for such specific advice regarding which machines to use and the frequency of use. I am sure that once I have been going for a few weeks and my confidence is up or I realise that nobody is laughing at me then I will be brave enough to try the weights. Just getting going and getting in to the routine of it is my inital challenge. I will try working out fasted and see how I feel if its not working for me and I find myself flagging I will eat before I go to the gym. Thank you again so much you have been so helpful!
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    Originally Posted by IrishLassie78 View Post
    Everything OregonChick76 said is spot on so take that advice and run with it.

    I train fasted 99.999% of the time because it works for me, but it doesn't work for everyone and there's nothing magical about it like people seem to want to believe. It works for me because I workout in the mornings before work and a morning person I am not. So I'm not getting up even earlier than I already have to to force myself to eat something. The other thing for me is that food in my stomach tends to make me nauseous when lifting. Some people are the total opposite and HAVE to eat before working out or they feel like death and have no energy. So everyone is different. You just have to find what works best for you, which comes with trial and error.

    As far as the diet goes, I think 1800 is a good place to start. You are right that you want to start higher so you have somewhere to go when it comes time to drop calories lower. As you lose more weight and get closer to your goal, it gets harder and you'll probably stall out. This way, you have something to work with. If you were to start at 1400 or somewhere in that ballpark, you wouldn't have much wiggle room to drop when you need to, you'll be starving all the time from the get go, and this is how most people set themselves up for failure because they are completely miserable from day one. So start at 1800, stick with it until the scale stops moving, then drop 50 calories or so, and stick with that until the scale stops moving, etc. There is no need to worry about carb cycling or anything like that with where you are now. That kind of thing only comes into play when you are already lean and looking to get peeled. At this point, a simple deficit and a solid routine are all you need. And if you feel like crap on low carbs, don't go low carb. A lot of people feel like hell on low carb diets. You should have no problems meeting your protein goals as a veggie. Do you eat eggs and/or dairy? That makes it really easy. If not, it can be done but it does require a little more work to make sure you're getting complete proteins, but it's not out of the realm of possibility at all. Good luck, OP
    I think I had in my mind that fasted training would make the fat come off faster but as you say its unlikely to make much differance, the main thing is to stick to the exercise plan and to watch my calories over a consistant period of time. I will try fasted and if it works for me great but if I need to eat before the gym I will.

    That is good advice about sticking to 1800kals until I plateau and then dropping down, as you say having that wiggle room should help keep things moving. I do eat dairy and eggs mainly so that does help, I will just need to make sure they are a regular part of my diet or that I am mixing my pulses and grains properly. I think as long as I eat home cooked, whole food as well as eggs and dairy it should be fine.

    Thank you for your advice and the good wishes!
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    Originally Posted by klute77 View Post
    I think I had in my mind that fasted training would make the fat come off faster but as you say its unlikely to make much differance, the main thing is to stick to the exercise plan and to watch my calories over a consistant period of time. I will try fasted and if it works for me great but if I need to eat before the gym I will.

    That is good advice about sticking to 1800kals until I plateau and then dropping down, as you say having that wiggle room should help keep things moving. I do eat dairy and eggs mainly so that does help, I will just need to make sure they are a regular part of my diet or that I am mixing my pulses and grains properly. I think as long as I eat home cooked, whole food as well as eggs and dairy it should be fine.

    Thank you for your advice and the good wishes!
    Fasted training, particularly fasted cardio is useful when you are already pretty lean and trying to get super lean, like contest lean. But for most of us, it doesn't make a whole lot of difference as long as you are in a calorie deficit, it's really just a matter of personal preference. Carb cycling is the same sort of tool. It can be effective if you are already lean and trying to get peeled, but it requires a LOT of attention to detail and can be a huge PITA. And it's really not necessary for 99% of the population just trying to lose fat. All you need for that is a deficit. People always like to think there is a magic bullet and unfortunately, there's not. A moderate deficit and a solid lifting program, and CONSISTENCY are what is needed. You sound like you have your head on straight and have a workable plan that you can live with and stick to right now, and that's the important thing.
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    I am never hungry when I first wake up and just drink coffee

    but I can't lift on an empty stomach or I feel like I am gonna puke and pass out

    I usually have to do a protein shake about a half hour before
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    Originally Posted by klute77 View Post
    I am sure that once I have been going for a few weeks and my confidence is up or I realise that nobody is laughing at me then I will be brave enough to try the weights.
    I don't have my stats filled in yet as I just registered, but suffice it to say that I'm shorter and fatter than you are. In late December I decided to get back to my long-standing goal of benching my body weight after a long layoff...as in a 20 year layoff! I'm 5 weeks into my fitness program now. Even without major dietary changes, I've built some muscle, gotten stronger, lost a few pounds of fat, and I feel great.

    I'm nowhere near as knowledgeable as the ladies in this thread, but I hope you won't mind some advice from somebody who was very recently in a similar situation.

    - Get a trainer. A few sessions with a trainer is the best money you can spend on getting in shape. Think of him/her as your teacher and program director. She can teach you the exercises, help you figure out a program that works for YOU, help you set some interim goals, and help you get over your embarrassment. Make sure the trainer is the type that will listen to what you want and need rather than just try to plug you into some program that she likes herself.

    - Buy some nice gym clothes. That may sound shallow, but feeling like you look okay goes a long way in helping with confidence at the gym. I can suggest some brands/stores I've had good luck with if you like.

    - Confidence: Fake it 'til you feel it. Seriously. It works

    - Use free weights. Using machines for a few weeks won't get your confidence up. The more you hide from the weight room, the scarier it will get! Your trainer can teach you 5 or 6 basic exercises, and knowing what you're doing will help you feel more confident. There are a ton of physical reasons that free weights are better than machines, but there is a non-physical one as well: There is no satisfaction to be found in moving a pin on a machine and then pushing a lever. You know what's satisfying? Successfully picking up something heavy. And then slapping some more iron plates on to that bar and picking it up again. Machines don't make you want to go back to the gym. Free weights do.

    My own routine is as follows:
    -Squat
    -Deadlift
    -Bench press
    -Dumbbell shoulder press
    -Lat pulldowns, but I'm switching to some sort of row
    So, that's very similar to what Oregonchick recommended. I'm not doing pull-ups, but I plan to add in some sort of assisted pull-up soon.

    I've been lifting about 3 times per week, and doing over 3 hours of cardio per week. I mostly do spin class, with occasional Zumba and the elliptical to fill in the gaps. I also do some core/ab exercises and stretching. Like I said above, it's been going really well, and as I continue to improve my diet, I expect it to go even better.

    Good luck!
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