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First 20

Lono the Labrador

I started this journey around Labor Day 2019. My puppy had just died (due to my parents simply not paying attention while making a pit stop, heading out to their cabin - hit by a truck) and I was 219lbs. I had been planning a workout regime to get into shape and utter sadness got me into the gym - because at the gym my focus is on counting reps and paying attention to what I'm doing. It was a break from my mourning - which I am still angry about. Around 2 weeks into my new regime, I decided that my goal was to get into bodybuilding competition shape. I don't have to compete, but I want to be able to compete if I so desire.

I want to show you pictures, but I don't think there are many visual changes yet. I've noticed a slimming along my whole backside (which I can't see), slimming around my face and neck, and I've started to notice my arms slimming down. I've had big fatty arms, despite prior exercise, for ever. It's one thing that I'm really trying to work on. The other day at the gym, I had to tighten up my ipod armband! WOOHOO!

I think I want to wait until I hit like 185 or something before sharing some before & current photos. The good thing is that while it started slow, I seem to be able to lose weight faster now.

I have some tips for those who are beginning or feel like they are in a rut or need a jump start. Do this a week to a week and a half before you start at the gym. I know it's going to sound like a "buy, buy, buy" thing, but there is a big mental part of it.

  • Get yourself a new gym bag. Doesn't have to be super fancy, but try one that has a separate shoe pocket and additional inner/outer pockets.

  • Get yourself new hand towels for wiping the equipment down. Since I go for 2 days, then break on Wednesday, I really only needed 2 rags.

  • Sweatbands. If you sweat and/or if your hair frizzes out or gets in your face, pick up some sweatbands. I bought 2 from for $15/ea or something like that. I like the "big bang lite" style. It gets hair out of my face, it keeps sweat out of my eyes, and it's super light weight. They have a ton of selection, if you're interested.

  • Make Fitness Cards. Part of working out is having a set plan. I typed up my routines on DIY business card paper. I laminated the cards. Punched a hole in one corner and attached it to a stretchy coil keychain. I just swap out the top card for whatever day it is and keep it around my water bottle at the gym. I don't know why I never thought of doing it before. Do you need a new water bottle? I like to have a 32 oz or 1L (33.8oz) size to tote around.

  • Workout Gloves. If you want a really good grip on dumbbells or barbells or if you're like me and have really sweaty hands when you work out, get some workout gloves. They look like bicycle gloves and you can get them for pretty cheap. Right now, I spent a little more than I usually do and got a pair of purple/black contraband gloves on Amazon for $14.99.

  • Playlists. Have a number of playlists ready to go. I still use my ipod classic, never my phone. I like the disconnect from social media and I'm pretty sure my brick of an ipod can take beating, whereas my phone is more delicate. Anyway, spend some time coming up with playlists for your needs. I tend to break this up to higher-paced cardio and strong-beat weightlifting.

  • Get New Clothing. It could be a new shirt or tights or shoes or gym socks. Sometimes a little retail therapy is exactly what is needed. I've found some good workout tank top deals at Old Navy. Maybe all you really need is a new pair of sweats and a hoodie to get you to and from the gym.

  • Get Rid of Bad Workout Gear/Clothing. You know those shorts or tights that don't really fit you too well, so you stuffed them in the back of your drawer? Get rid of them. If your workout clothing is 10+ years old, switch it up. How old are your shoes? This is actually a bit uplifting once you do it.

  • Plan Your Meals. You can't just workout. You MUST strive to eat healthy. I always suggest using to log food and workouts. There's a website, there's a phone app, you can connect with friends on it, track your progress, set goals, etc. It's always good to track your food because it makes you more aware of what you're eating. Keep your food simple during the weekdays and experiment on the weekends. My food is super simple because it's the same everyday: Breakfast - 2 eggs (scrambled or fried) and a 2 scoop protein shake; Lunch - 1 green smoothie with added protein and a meat stick (salmon jerky, Vermont Smoke & Sure brand, Ostrim brand); Dinner - 1-1/2 to 2 cups broccoli or cauliflower, 4-5 oz lean meat (fish, seafood, poultry, or super lean 98% beef or bison). What I eat (restricted paleo) won't work for everyone. Figure out what works for you.

  • Closed Lips. Don't mention your new fitness or eating habits to anyone until after the first week. There's a big difference in saying "I'm starting a new fitness plan" and "I've been hitting the gym four days a week now". After that first week, tell your friends, take photos for instagram, tell everyone on facebook...whatever you want.

Since early January, I've been bouncing between having lost 20-25lbs and there is one reason for it: life got in the way. New puppy, watching 3 large dogs and a new puppy and my nephew while everyone else it out of town, -50F temperatures, not getting any sleep, and just an overwhelming feeling of being "out of it". It happens to us all. I'm trying to keep my stress levels low and sometimes that requires chocolate or Alden's blackberry fruit bars (yes, I like these) or a new type of tea or a hot bath with epsom salt. I've learned over the years to not let setbacks get the best of you. Just say "Hey, thanks for the time off, but I have to get back to the gym".

I've been trying to get conversations going lately through social media. I can't seem to land any responses to questions, except for a "like" or some other emoji. I would LOVE to hear from YOU. Connect with me on facebook at the Stern Skull Group.

Tell me about your playlists. What exercises do you like, hate, or need help with? Do you have questions for me? How's your day going? What are your goals? Maybe you want to start, but aren't really sure what to do. Let me try to help.

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