Getting Started

Deciding to embrace Health Goth is the first official step into this strange new area of the gothic subculture.  We want to be healthy and fit.  We understand that living a healthier lifestyle is going to lessen health issues, give us a better quality of life, and we’re going to feel better about ourselves.  Health Goths are down with putting in the effort in an attempt to reach our perceived version of perfection.  Sloth is the sin we attempt to break away from.

This is set up for the person who knows little about living a healthier lifestyle and will act as a guide for basic healthy living.  You will find definitions, explanations, and tips to get you waist deep into the Health Goth lifestyle.  Check out the Planning Worksheet - available as PDF.

 

Healthy Lifestyle.  A healthy lifestyle includes a nutritious diet, exercising regularly, and creating balance within yourself.


 

Goals

Before you rush out to the gym and question what to start with, let’s back up and get some initial planning done first.  In the big scope of things, this will help you out immensely.  It’s important to make note of your goals, potential rewards, and health data.

Goals can be broken down into long term and short term.  Long term goals tend to be set 6 months or more in the future and can be a bit malleable until our deadlines get closer.  Short term goals tend to be set in shorter increments like 4 weeks or 6 weeks in the future.  On the Planning Worksheet, write in some of your long term and short term goals.  Be as specific as you’d like.  Below are some examples of long term goals.

Black and Red Left Arrow

Long Term Goals:

  • Get ready for a bodybuilding competition

  • Doctor says I have to lose 150lbs

  • Look good for an upcoming event or vacation

  • I want to run a marathon

  • I want to go from a size 22 trouser to a size 6 trouser

  • I need to cut my body fat percentage down to “average” to be healthier

Short Term Goals:

  • I want to run a mile without stopping

  • I want to have regular bowel movements

  • I want to lift 100lbs

  • I want to be able to do a pull up

  • I want to increase my water intake

  • I’m in a rut and need out

Goal rewards are crucial for some people.  If you tend to do better by having a reward every so often, then you need to plan stuff out.  Goal rewards are non-food rewards that you allow yourself to have once you accomplish a short term or long term goal.  You might opt to make a long term goal reward grander than one for a short term goal.  It’s up to you.

On the Planning Worksheet, you should make note of some goal rewards and what they correspond to.  If you’re looking for suggestions: pedicure, new single piece of makeup, a massage, a facial, a new article of clothing, new boots, a new book, art supplies, or going out to see a new movie.  These don’t need to be anything overly incredible, just some kind of incentive to motivate yourself.  The one absolute rule is that your reward is not food-based.  Food-based rewards assist in creating a poor relationship with food by giving value to (typically) low quality, low value foods.


 

Bloodletting

This next part is best done by working with a doctor.  Get set up with your doctor for a general check up and for a Comprehensive Wellness Blood Test.  You can totally go online and order this test for yourself through LabCorp (www.labcorp.com) - roughly around $150.  This particular test will take blood and urine for analysis, so you’ll have to fast for 12 hours prior.  When your results come back, you can go over them yourself or with a doctor.

This is the smartest way to start yourself off.  The results will be a comprehensive blood panel, a thyroid panel, cholesterol and lipid panel, diabetes risk test, and a blood count.  If you are in need of particular vitamins, you’ll find out.  If you have any health risks, you’ll find out.  The great thing about this is that you will end up with a copy for your personal health file and any doctor will accept it.  If you order it through the website, you’ll be able to access your file digitally.


 

Basic Health Data

Basic health data can be as easy as scheduling a test with a health provider or fitness professional with the available tools (bioelectrical impedance analysis scale, hydrodensitometry, air displacement plethysmography, or a DEXA scan).  It’s also data you can collect on your own and note on the Planning Worksheet.  Here is the list of data you need to collect:

  • Body weight

  • Height

  • Body fat

  • Lean body mass

  • Basal metabolic rate

  • Waist to hip ratio

  • Body mass index

 

Body weight is simply your current weight.  You can get this measurement by stepping on a properly calibrated scale.

 

Height can be measured with the help of a friend and a tape measure.  Most of us generally know what our height is already.

 

Body fat is the percentage of fat on your body.  This can help us gauge if we’re too thin, average, overweight, or obese (I, II, III) according to the BMI.  That’s right, being underweight or obese is directly related to your body fat percentage!  Below is the average body fat in general age ranges for men and women according to the American College of Sports Medicine.  It is recommended that you use a scale with a body fat percentage reading, if you are doing this at home.  You can get your fat in pounds if you do the following: 

Weight x Body Fat (as decimal instead of percentage) = Body Fat in pounds

If you have 26.7% body fat, this becomes 0.267.  If you have 9% body fat, this becomes 0.09.  If you have 45.67% body fat, this becomes 0.4567.  Let’s say you weigh 175lbs and your body fat is 23.5%.  It would be set up like this: 175 x 0.235 = 41.125 lbs

unnamed.jpg

Lean body mass is a calculation of what you would weigh if you removed all body fat.  This includes the weight of bones, muscles, bodily fluids, organs, and connective tissues.  To get this, you can subtract body fat in pounds from your body weight.  If you weigh 175lbs and you know your body fat is 41.125lbs, then 175 - 41.125 = 133.875 lbs.

 

Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the amount of calories your body needs to maintain itself during a neutral period.  The BMR is used to determine if you are overeating, eating to maintain, or eating at a caloric loss.  To determine your BMR, we will use the Harris-Benedict Equation which is in metric.  Also, you can find online calculators that do this for you.

  • Men: BMR = 88.362 + (13.397 x weight in kg) + (4.799 x height in cm) - (5.677 x age in years)

  • Women: BMR = 447.593 + (9.247 x weight in kg) + (3.098 x height in cm) - (4.330 x age in years)

 

If Judy is 43, weighs 150lbs (68.038 kg), and is 5’-6” (167.64 cm), this would be written as: 

BMR = 447.593 + (9.247 x 68.038kg) + (3.098 x 167.64 cm) - (4.330 x 43)

Judy’s BMR would be 1409.89, or more simply 1410 by rounding up.  For Judy, regular exercise and eating a 1200-1400 calorie diet would start to cause weightloss.  If Judy chose not to workout and ate 2500 calories a day, she would quickly gain weight.

 

If Todd is 38, weighs 355lbs (161.025kg) and is 5’-9” (175.26 cm), this would be written as:

BMR = 88.362 + (13.397 x 161.025) + (4.799 x 175.26) - (5.677 x 38)

Todd’s BMR would be 2870.96, or 2871 if we round up to get rid of the decimal.  For Todd, regular exercise and eating a 2500-2800 calorie diet would start to cause weightloss.

 

A person’s BMR is going to change as they lose or gain weight.  You should aim for your BMR for regular maintenance eating or you can subtract 200 calories or so to help with weightloss.  Be aware that weightloss happens with 2 things: food and exercise.


Waist to hip ratio is simply a measurement of the smallest part of your waist and the largest part of your hips.  The equation looks like this: Waist ÷ Hip = Ratio.  This can be done in inches or centimeters.  If Bob is 47 with a waist that measures 32” and his hips measure at 39” (32 ÷ 39), we get a ratio of 0.82.  According to the chart, he is at low risk for obesity.

unnamed (1).jpg

Body mass index (BMI) is a height to weight ratio.  Height ÷ Weight = Ratio.  If Tom is 5’9” and weighs 210lbs, the BMI ratio is 31, which puts him in the obese category.  The BMI is a tool for measuring an average person.  The BMI will start to fail when athletes have high lean body mass and low body fat.

unnamed.png

Tracking Yourself

There are a ton of tracking apps and fitness/food tracking journals out there.  It just takes a quick search on Google or Amazon to find something.  As soon as you want to, start tracking yourself. 

 

Personally, I use a tracking app called My Fitness Pal, but I started out with a spiral notepad and pencil.

What the heck is tracking?  This is where you write down or log on an app what you eat and your exercise - DAILY.  What this does is show you what your food macros are and also how much you are burning.  If you start tracking yourself before you fully get started, then continue to track yourself, you’ll be creating your own data that you can show to a doctor or a health coach or a nutritionist.

When I started on my own journey back in 2007, this is one of the first things I was told to do.  Know what?  It works.  I was totally under the impression that I already ate well, but I was terribly wrong.  Since I had to start logging it, I started holding myself accountable for what I was eating and for exercising.  It works and it is a great tool to continue to use.

I am including a screenshot from My Fitness Pal, just so you can see what it looks like and what it measures.  It helps with staying motivated, it helps with planning meals, and it helps you figure out what you’re doing.  One thing I don’t like about this app is that, if I click on the exercise tab and log in my exercise (on Tuesday, September 15, 2020 I happened to put in a 465 calorie burning workout), when I switch back to food it increases my daily goal.  I’m not going to make myself eat that extra 644 calories that it suggests I consume.  I’m full.  I’m done.

The beauty of food and fitness trackers is that you can create your own recipes (in my screenshot I did this with vitamins and my green smoothie), you can put in your health data and update as necessary, and you can track your water intake.  I’ll talk about water later with food and nutrition.

unnamed (1).png

Assessing Your Kitchen

As you put together your goals and obtain your health data, you need to check out your kitchen.  You’re out to make a lifestyle change, so you will have to get rid of all your bad foods.  “Bad Foods” are full of sugar, low quality flour, may be processed and packaged, and is generally considered junk food.  You can’t eat it if you don’t have it available, so get rid of all the bad food.  Don’t flip out.  We’re going to fix this.

 

Bad Food List

  • Chips

  • White Flour

  • Sugar

  • White Rice

  • Pizza

  • Mac & Cheese

  • Hamburger Helper

  • Coffee Creamer

  • Powder Drink Mix

  • Soda

  • Juice

  • White Bread

  • Desserts

  • Pasta

  • Raman

  • Anything Fried

  • Fatty Meats

  • Marshmallows

  • Candy

  • Ice Cream

  • Frozen Burrito

  • Frozen Pizza Rolls

  • Breakfast Cereal

  • Processed Meat

  • Processed Cheese

  • Crackers

  • Corn

 

Most people start to panic when they get rid of their “bad foods”.  I want you to focus on “good foods”.  Good foods will have to be cooked or prepared.  The distinction is the quality of the food, along with caloric value.  This list is going to be very generic.  If you have thyroid issues, you may want to tailor the good food list to 35% protein (high), 40% fat, and 25% carb.  If you want to try keto, the scope is 65% fat (high), 25% protein, and 10% carb.  The average dietary breakdown is 55% carbs, 20% fat, and 25% protein. 

 

Good Food List

  • Whole Wheat Flour

  • Almond Flour

  • Brown Rice

  • Oats

  • Lentils

  • Beans

  • Quinoa

  • Barley

  • Whole Grain or Legume Pasta

  • Bread with at least 5g fiber per serving

  • Poultry

  • Lean Beef

  • Wild Game

  • Fish

  • Seafood

  • Eggs

  • Mio (water additive)

  • Sparkling Water

  • Vegetables

  • Fruit

  • Root Tubers (limited)

  • Nuts

  • Seeds

  • Plain Yogurt

  • Cheese

  • Cottage Cheese

  • Tea

  • Raw Honey

 

I’m not a monster, you can still have your pasta and bread if that’s what you want.  Just choose a better quality pasta or bread.  The focus here is on whole grains, lean meats, fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and plain dairy.  As you prepare for your journey, you need to replace your bad food with good food.  If your doctor recommends a particular diet, give it a try and make adjustments as needed.

I will be asking you to be VERY strict about what you consume for 2 months.  Honestly, it’s best if you don’t start right before a major holiday, unless you have willpower of steel.


 

Getting Ready

You’re going to find that getting started will take a little time.  This is normal. If you have to wait for blood test results and perhaps you put off cleaning out your kitchen to the weekend or you do it slowly over the week, whatever the case, you may be pleased with a little retail therapy.  You need to be ready for a workout, so that means: gym membership (there are cheap options), workout tights, workout shirts, sports bras (women), a water bottle, and gym-only shoes.  There are some other things you may want to get like a gym bag, a gym rag/towel, a shower towel, sweatbands, and/or workout fingerless gloves (if you get sweaty hands).

There are a ton of different ways to exercise.  For this book, I’m going to focus it on a workout you can do at the gym.  If you need a low-cost gym, look at some of the big box gyms like Planet Fitness or 24 Hour Fitness or Anytime Fitness.  These gyms have the equipment you will need and often offer some extra perks such as available personal trainers, tanning equipment, etc.

If you plan on working out 5 days a week, make sure you have 5 sets of gym clothes or be really great with laundering your workout clothes.  This is why you may need a little retail therapy.  It also helps to get you excited for the gym.  A new shirt or two, a new pair of shorts or tights, and a new gym bag can help with your initial motivation.

I really didn’t touch on it, but you might want to put together some gym playlists.  Avoid slow music.  You want music to make you feel pumped up.  If you need an armband carrier for your ipod or phone, make sure you have one.  You may already have a set up with bluetooth headphones.  If it works for you, great.  Being plugged in to your own tunes can really help you focus on what you’re doing.  If you’re working out with a friend, you may opt to forego the headphones.