This is a special edition of Ask Cranky Fitness. Why is it special? Because it features Three Real-Life Reader Questions! These were sent in by actual blog readers, as opposed to imaginary blog readers, who are much more likely to seek our advice.
Note: if you decide to send in a question to Cranky Fitness, be warned: our answers will probably not be helpful. We are not experts. If you have an important question, ask your Doctor or Mental Health Professional. However, if you do have a question and don't care if we inadvertently make fun of you while answering it, feel free to send it in. Because sometimes the folks in the comments section have some really good advice.
Dear Cranky Fitness,
If I'm strength training two days a week on Monday and Friday, do you think that's enough to see results or do you think the days need to be closer together, say Monday and Wednesday? Do I need to add an additional day as well?
The reason I ask: I HATE strength training by myself. Usually, I wimp out and thus never reap the benefits. There's a great strength training class at my gym, but I can only make the Monday and Friday morning classes. Am I wasting my time?
Muscle Obsessed from the Midwest
Dear Muscle Obsessed,
If you are at the gym lifting heavy things, that's never a waste of time! Especially when you could be home lifting jelly donuts or cheeseburgers and devouring them instead of working out.
However, in my experience, you have to balance out the Loathsomeness of weight training with its Effectiveness. For me, personally, two times a week is enough to maintain strength gains, but I need to go more like 3 times a week for a while to build strength in the first place. My personal weight training plan: an endless cycle of Ambitious Building followed by Inevitable Slacking--at least until the smart scientists invent a muscle-creating pill. Or better yet, a muscle-creating cookie.
If you're building muscle and gaining strength with two times a week and a class you really enjoy, then hooray for you, that's good enough! But if you're stuck and not getting results, it may be time to venture beyond the safety and comfort of your class and add some solo workouts. I'd suggest getting the help of a Friendly Personal Trainer for your first few times, so you can learn all the equipment and discover that many of the Intimidating Gym Rats aren't even actually doing it right.
Good luck with those muscles!
Dear Muscle Obsessed,
I could just hear the enthusiasm when you mentioned that great class on Mondays and Fridays. Is there some other way to generate enthusiasm like that about weight lifting? Like using a Friendly Personal Trainer, as Crabby suggests, but make it an F.P.T. who is reeeeeally cute. Or is there a friend, maybe someone from that great class, whom you can persuade to join you on Wednesdays? If all else fails, set a goal that you want to achieve, such as lifting XXX amount before June. Tell your most sarcastic and critical
Dear Cranky Fitness,
I'm hoping that you can offer some advice on the dreaded, and age old topic of Male/Female interaction at the gym. I go to the gym everyday, usually at the same time of day, and I see the same people over and over again when I am there. In particular, I see a woman, and she is, as the saying goes 'a slammin' hottie'.
Now, I know all about the taboos associated with health club chat ups. I get it, completely. No one goes to the gym to get hit on, and if you try it, you are likely to get branded as 'THAT GUY'. No one wants to be "THAT GUY". To avoid it, I usually pretend that the hot women in my gym don't exist.
Slammin Hottie and I have never spoken, however, for about two weeks, when working out, we have been having some serious eyeball foreplay. Lots of coy smiles, nods, and bedroom eyes. Is this enough to break protocol and make an approach? And how do you talk to someone without being interruptive?
Should I just forget it? Or is there a way to make a move and not look like a douche?
Dear Gym Guy,
Congratulations for picking a topic, "Flirtation Etiquette for Attractive Heterosexual Gym-Goers" on which I am spectacularly unqualified to comment! Yet I can't help but offer a few thoughts. Just ignore the fact I have no idea what I'm talking about.
First off, you get Extra Credit for even realizing there's an issue of appropriateness. Many women, whether Slammin' Hotties or not, report plenty of Clueless Approaches by guys who never consider that their advances might not be welcome--or who do consider the possibility but don't give a crap.
As you suspect, approaching her while she's rocking out to her iPod and in the middle of doing something strenuous is probably a mistake. While startling her and causing her to tumble off the treadmill or drop a barbell on your head might make a great "meet cute" scene in a movie, it real life it might kinda suck for you both.
My guess--straight girls, please help me out here--is that guys are still kind of expected to make the first move, and I don't know that a single woman would be horrified to be approached at her gym in a friendly, non-sleazy way by a guy who seems nice if she's not in the middle of something.
Suggestion: innocuous questions like: "Do you know if the gym's open on Easter?" might work somewhat better than "Wow, you're a slammin' hottie! Want to take a ride on my elliptical tonight?"
And do keep in mind that if she shoots you down, you've now turned your daily workout space into a Ongoing Rejection Reminder. Especially if you strike out but some Really Douchey Gym Dude swoops in and scores. So you may want to think hard about whether Slammin' Hottie is worth risking gym peace of mind for.
Dear Gym Guy,
Speaking from the Heterosexual corner, my best advice would be to try the Zen approach. No, I don't mean contemplate your navel, or hers either (at least, not obviously). Is there some Middle Path between being polite-but-distant and totally hitting on her? Can you, in short, get to know her in the non-Biblical sense of the word?
Small talk can be helpful here. Try asking her a question as she finishes her workout or while she's waiting to use some equipment. If she's listening to tunes, ask her about what music she likes to work out to. However, if she happens to mention casually that her iPod was a gift from her professional-football-playing boyfriend, take this as A Sign and stick to being a gym buddy. Whatever you do, don't come on too strong right away. You don't want to come across as an arrogant jerk or as a Nice Guy™. Take the Middle Path, grasshopper.
Dear Cranky Fitness,
I want to lose 60 pounds. It's the same 60 pounds that I have lost and regained 3 times in the past 10 years. Obviously, I need more than just diet and exercise...I need some of that--what do you call it?--behavior modification (or maybe just to have my frontal lobe removed!)
Anyway, my question for you is this: how do I do this? Do you have any suggestions? I've been looking into the weight management center at the University of XXXXXX, but it's not cheap and I'm not really sure how I'd do it when it's a XXX hour drive, round trip. Maybe I'm searching for a needle in a haystack. I know when it really comes down to it, I'm the only one who can help me.....I just need a shove or something! I just turned 40 and I really don't like myself a whole lot at the moment! Anyway, any advice or suggestions would be appreciated!
--Looking for Help
First off, if you have managed to lose 60 lbs three different times you are a very strong, very determined person with lots of willpower! You should be proud of yourself for these accomplishments, even if you find yourself struggling again. It's HARD to keep weight off, and the fact that you have the courage to try this again says a lot about your strength of character. Good for you for not giving up.
I'm hoping folks might help out in the comments section with more specific advice and encouragement. I suspect there are lots of people who can relate.
I'm not sure about the particular behavioral weight loss program; you're probably best off talking to people who've been through it. There are some good Cognitive Behavioral self-help books out there you might want to try--Judith Beck's The Beck Diet Solution is one I hear good things about.
Just generally, I'm guessing you've probably heard most of the standard advice already: take it gradually, limit portions but don't starve yourself, exercise, write things down, confront self-defeating thoughts, eat healthy nutritious food, seek social support, etc. I'd just add this:
Don't be too hard on yourself! I suspect there's some perfectionism/fear of failure lying behind your relapses, and trying to do your best each day and sticking with it is way more important than having "perfect" days.
And, if emotional issues or depression or low self-esteem are contributing to your weight issues (also really common and nothing to be ashamed of) counseling can really help. Often universities with counseling programs have interns who don't charge too much.
Good luck, and again, be proud of yourself for not giving up!
Oh, give up already.
There. Didn't that feel good? Well, it felt good for the moment. At least, it felt good when I did it. The problem is that I always have to face the fact that I'll need to get up and keep going after I give up.
I'm in the position here that Crabby was in the hetero-dating question. I am not pleased with my current shape at all, having completely slacked off over the winter. All I know to do is a) learn to like myself as I am now (not the shape, the person), b)exercise every day, no excuses, c) eat five servings of those damn green leafy things before I eat anything that tastes good.
Once, when I was wandering through blogland, I happened upon Pasta Queen's blog Half of Me. Being eager to
Oh -- sorry, I got so caught up in lecturing myself, I forgot where I was. I'm going to get off this soap box now; it's rather rickety. All I can say is that people have managed to lose that much weight and keep it off. Keep going!