A lot of guys will go through a period in their weight loss journey where they will think, “Hey: why don’t I just get a personal trainer? They know what they’re talking about!” It may be at the beginning because we’re too damn lazy to go to the gym and we need to have someone pissed at us for skipping (and taking money from us at the same time). For some of us, it’s in the middle somewhere: we’ve hit a plateau, banged our head against the wall a few dozen times, and need someone to show us what we’re doing wrong. Or maybe we’re closer to the “end” and we think we just need that extra little push from someone professional.
All of these are completely legitimate reasons. But when searching for a trainer, you’ll want to beware. As a fat boy, the pitfalls that await us from listening to generic fitness personalities on TV also lay in wait for us when choosing a personal trainer. So how do we weed out the bad ones and find one that can actually help us?
Every other writer having anything remotely to do with fitness will be writing something today or tomorrow about New Year’s Resolutions. So, since you can read that in 10,000 other places, let me give you something different.
A short story here that occurred to me while I was writing my previous post about Family Dinner. It’s sort of funny the things you remember about your childhood once you sit down and start writing about it.
One thing closer friends know about me is that tastes don’t really bother me all that much. I can handle almost any taste and will try anything new. But it’s textures that really put me off of something. I’ll try tripe or entrails or tentacles or organs… but try to feed me a honeydew and we’ll hit a wall. Just something about texture is really disgusting to me. Or grits. Or okra. Or a raw carrot… vile. I’ll eat a cooked carrot all day, and carrot cake all week, but force me to choke down a raw carrot and it’ll be a rough day for both of us.
When I was a kid, my parents made every effort to have Family Dinner. Momma and Daddy*, whenever they could, would go through the ritual of having the Family Dinner because they truly believe that the family that eats together stays together. On the occasions this came together I would be in the kitchen watching Momma cook and Daddy would be putting Isaac or Leah through the motions of setting the table in the kitchen nook (we had a dining room… in every place we lived, I believe. But for some reason the actual dining room only ever was used if we had company over). I’d sit on a stool and thumb through Momma’s recipe box as she fiddled with whatever was on the stove, flipping through card after old, weathered card of recipes, some of them Momma’s new editions, but a lot of them heirloom recipes from Momma Joyce, Momma Lilly, Aunt Francis, or Daddy’s momma Grandma Marylin. Out of the corner of my eye I could see little four year old Isaac clumsily placing knifes and forks and plates, then awkwardly folding paper napkins and setting out mismatched drinking glasses. When it was all prepared, we would sit down around the small kitchen-nook table, one of us would pray (my parents thought it was adorable to have me say grace… probably because I was, for a long time, incapable of pronouncing the letters “L” or “R” differently than “W”), then we would eat Family Dinner just the way that we all imagined normal families at Family Dinner.
This ritual actually happened pretty rarely though, for all my parents beliefs and good intentions. If you’re of my generation your parents may have grown up with this belief from the 50s and 60s that Family Dinner was what all true, God-fearing Americans had every night like in a Norman Rockwell painting**. My Momma actually went way out of her way to try to reproduce this kind of idea, not just with Family Dinner but also with Thanksgiving and Christmas and those kinds of memory-making moments. My parents generation was taught that this is what you did and this is what a happy family looked like. It’s interesting that my generation, as far as I can tell, never actually got what my parent’s generation was trying to give us. And by that I mean that Family Dinner wasn’t just a rare ritual for my family, but seems to be the exception rather than the rule.
As a kid – a fat kid – there are all kinds of things our loved ones tell us and do for us to try and tackle our weight problem. I remember from an early age that my mom and dad were very involved in my weight.There was a time, one of my earliest memories having to do with my size, that I remember my parents had taken me to a specialist to be tested and measured to see if there was something amiss with me. I was a physically large child – 3 feet tall at 4 years old – and for all my parents knew I had giantism or something. In this memory I’m looking at a chart showing the curve of normal children’s height and weight at various ages… and the doctor pointing to where I was on the chart. Let’s just say “above normal”. In certain parts of the world I’d pass for a teenager and I was barely in kindergarten.
This is also around the time that I was starting to get pudgy. I don’t remember gaining weight, per se, but I’ve seen pictures of myself around this time and I was thicker than a normal kid, but not what you might call fat. Just “festively plump” as they say. After that, though, I seem to have started gaining weight and started having memories of myself as fat. It’s also, coincidentally, when I remember my parents beginning to say things about my weight: talking to me about it, asking me about it, discussing it between them, encouraging me about it. It became a thing to talk about.
Some former (and current) fat boys have deep, painful memories about the hurtful things people said to them about being fat – even hurtful things their parents or siblings or friends said to them. But what about the positive things? Part of my recollection is the ways in which the positive things my parents said to and about me actually sabotaged me. So what about the situation where, in an effort to be supportive, the people that care most about us poison the well and keep us from doing what we need to do?
Happy Christmas Eve everyone.
I’m actually about to head to my parents house where there will no doubt be all the things laid out that I have refused to eat indefinitely. My favorite is easily Banana Puddin (not “pudding”… I’m in the South, after all). I could eat it by the vat. And that’s a problem…. Or it can be, if I haven’t planned ahead.
I find the most damage that gets done on a fitness regimen is psychological. We will beat ourselves up for failures and that self-castigation can lead to even deeper failures and even going off the rails entirely. As I keep saying, planning is the key to success in most cases. Even planning for failure. So what I’m going to do is provide 3 strategies for getting through Holiday Eating.
So I’ve written a good bit of narrative, but I want my work to be informative too as much as motivational. There will be more stories about being fat (hell, I was fat for a couple decades so I have a lot to say, and I have several other contributors who are going to chime in soon), but for now I may switch gears to something instructive.
So here we go.
5 Building Block of Any Weight Routine
Like I said in my last post, part of what kept me out of the gym, and part of why I failed at the gym at first, was because I didn’t know what I was doing and had only enough understanding of the gym to imagine that whatever I was doing, it was probably wrong. There is so much information about working out in magazines, books, online, and from just various Joes around the gym that it was difficult to know just what to do for myself. There was just too much to choose from… so I had to make a method for choosing. Which led me to distilling hundreds of pages of advice into a handful of building blocks for any routine.