First Week Back – Thoughts

Hey Everyone,

I’m still trying to figure out how I’m frequently I’m going to post, what I will post, etc. I’ve decided that I will do my best to post progress pics, as well as discuss regression in the middle of progress. That will be the theme this week, as well as most of the weeks to come: getting back on track.

This week for me has been particularly difficult. When I started back I also began a steroid treatment which, for five days, had me injecting a gel steroid myself for 5 days. The potential side effects, which I felt, were weight gain, increased appetite, as well as muscle weakness. I gained, while I feel it mostly water-weight (I hope) between 6 or 7 lbs. That’s a bit of a setback. On top of that, I felt really sick  – so much so that I’ve needed about 4 days to recuperate post-treatment. No working out, diet out the window mostly once that monster appetite hit.

It feels like a setback, but I want to view this as an opportunity to touch on one of the most trying obstacles that may come up in a transformative journey, and that is life. Mindfulness, I’ve learned, is ultimately important. I am aware that this is a setback. I understand where I have not followed through. But the key is to not let it set me back completely. I may have gained some weight back, but that doesn’t mean that I have to keep it. There is no real timeline which is now utterly ruined. The only timeline is my life. And hopefully, with care, I still have a long way to go in that respect.

So today, I come back a bit heavier than last week, but with renewed resolve to get back to action. To continue pushing myself to trim the fat.

As for new topics, I’ve talked with a few friends who come at body image issues with different views. I know my blog is primarily about weight loss, but that is merely one part of the body image spectrum. I feel that showing multiple perspectives will help open a dialogue about it, and let everyone know that they are not alone in their feelings of inadequacy at times. Ultimately, I’d like to show that there is no need to feel inadequate, but that is to be arrived at one step at a time. I know I’m still working through that myself.

That’s all for me now. I will continue sharing my experience with you, week by week, as things go along. I’d also like to know if there are things that you, the reader, would like to know about or see? What has you curious when you think about going through this journey yourself, or watching someone else go through it? Please let me know in the comments section below, and thank you.

To Your Health and Wellness,

Martin Arroyo, CPT

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I Fell Off The Wagon

Hello readers. It’s been a little over two years since I’ve last posted. I’ve been on hiatus for far too long. While it’s difficult, I have to admit something to you all – I fell off the wagon.

Now I could make this a ridiculously long post, and go into exactly what happened in my life, making all sorts of excuses for why I gained about 100lbs back. That’s right, nearly 100lbs. A Certified Personal Trainer, one who had lost 160 lbs 5 years ago, gained a lot of it back.

To be honest, I had a lot of trouble with this. I was in denial for a long time. I just thought “Hey, it’s not such a huge deal. I’ll just get back on the wagon and drop it all again, no problem.” But that was the problem – I failed myself and forgot my own cardinal rule when it comes to weight-loss: always get back up ASAP. Well, ASAP wasn’t exactly ASAP for me.

Two years from my last post I managed to pack on this extra weight. I went from a relatively lean 220lbs to approximately 320lbs. I went through denial, then feeling like a failure and a hypocrite. I had inspired many of my family and friends with my own personal transformation before, and felt as if I let them down. I felt like a fraud. Who was I to have this Certificate saying I know so much about fitness that I can train others, yet I let it happen to myself again?

Here’s the thing that I’ve come to realize: it happens. It’s life. However, I am choosing NOT to stay down. I think that’s the critical part of not allowing failure to define you. There is a Japanese proverb that says “Fall down seven times, stand up eight.” I’m standing up again.

There are a lot of things that I want to share with you all, not only to get it off of my chest and to help me stay accountable, but because I still feel that I can help at least somebody out there who is in the same position I am right now. Maybe you lost big and gained back. Maybe you’re still trying to figure out how to lose weight. I’ve been there, I’m back there. I know how you feel.

When I first started this site, it was after I had already dropped the weight. There weren’t many progress pics because I was too afraid to take them. I was ashamed of my body. Still am. So much so that it causes me great anxiety to take my shirt off anywhere, even at home. But I’m going to bare all this time. Well not ALL, but I’m going to take the shirtless progress pics so that you can see the transformation happen.

I’m going to share the journey with you all now. I hope for some, you will find inspiration to face your fears. To start your own weight-loss journey if that’s where you’re coming from. Or to just follow along, and see someone overcome being overweight. To see someone become a better version of themselves.

With that, I will say that I have lost close to 40lbs so far, but still have a long way to go. While not exactly a “Day One” picture, it will serve as my day one.

What I looked like before:

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… and now…

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It ain’t pretty, but it’s where I’m starting. 281 lbs. My day one of all of this. From now on, I’m welcoming you all in to this new journey.

To your health and wellness,

Martin Arroyo, CPT

Make Her Laugh

The Tao of Martin

It was a chilly Friday evening in March – St. Patrick’s Day weekend. Drinks at a local pub were the order for the night. I met up with my brother and our good friend Luis, who I hadn’t seen in a while. We joked and caught up on everything that’s been going on since we last met – the stuff that isn’t typically posted on our Facebook feeds. Eventually the Guinness and Scotch’s started to do their job, and we got into some philosophical, (at many times raunchy,) conversation. The topic of past relationships came up, and we started talking about what we think went wrong.

“One of the things that showed me that things weren’t going well was that we weren’t laughing together anymore. The playful vibe was gone,” I mused.  “That was the beginning of the end.” Luis, who recently got engaged to his girlfriend of nearly ten…

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I have a request for all you Bloggers out there…

This is an awesome idea. I’ll be sending my regards soon. Hopefully all of you will look into this and do the same. Best wishes.

postalpaperphile

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So my Nan, the woman who raised me had a huge operation today, a total Gastrectomy to remove the giant tumour that had been growing in her stomach for ages. Cancer is such a nasty thing, but the medical advances these days are truly amazing.

After a near 7 hours of surgery she is out and in the critical care unit, where she will stay for a week or so and then move to another ward for 1-2 months to start her recovery. She’s awake and doing well which is a  huge relief as in reality it is quite a scary operation with tons of risk. She hates hospitals with a passion! haha and now she has to stay in one for ages!

Well I was wondering if any of you nice people out there want to send her a get well card, a nice little note wishing her well…

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Want to “tone up”? Lift heavy. Why Strong is the new Beautiful

Many people, particularly ladies, have the goal of “toning up” when they hit the gym. Basically, to not have large but rather defined muscles. It’s a common goal and a good one. Thing is, most people also go about this the wrong way as to avoid looking like this:

       or   this  

If your goal is to look like this, more power to you, but this post isn’t really about you.

There is a common misconception out there that this huge, muscular look is achieved by lifting heavy weights over and over again. It’s partially true, but that’s only half of the equation.

As with anything relating to getting fit, there is a basic formula that we follow:

Results = Activity + Nutrition x Consistency

While lifting heavy weights consistently will produce strength and muscle gains, we usually leave nutrition out as a factor, which is a huge oversight. In order to build muscle to this capacity, one must EAT SUBSTANTIALLY to facilitate that level of growth. That generally means eating well beyond basic calorie suggestions, and creating a surplus of calories (basically eat more than you burn throughout the day.) What does this mean for you? YOU WILL NOT GET TREMENDOUSLY HUGE JUST BY LIFTING WEIGHTS. Your nutrition plays a huge role in making these gains, and arguably other supplements at different levels.

“Ok, yeah, I know this, but if I want to tone up, I just need to lift light weights for more reps right?” NO.

What lifting lighter weights for high reps does is help increase your muscular endurance- how long your muscles can work before getting tired. This type of training has its place in a well balanced program, but it alone will not get you “toned”. The bottom line is that the more muscle you have, the more fat you will burn. Period. Muscular endurance training, or “light weight for a lot of reps” doesn’t necessarily lead to much increased muscle size. Strength training does.

Many studies have shown that strength training can lead to more fat loss than traditional cardio alone. This is a great benefit because, aesthetically speaking, when we say “tone up” we really mean lose the layer of fat covering our muscles so that we can see definition. I know, I know, you’re thinking “but I don’t want those huge muscles.” That’s where nutrition comes in. You simply don’t eat for a surplus like a body builder looking to bulk up. Incorporate strategic cardio into your program (more on this next week.) Voila. Not so much huge body builder look, but rather a defined, svelte sexy look.

So there you have it. Basically, more muscle = more fat burn. Nutrition is vital in determining how much muscle you gain, so you won’t look like Arnold Schwarzenegger just because you lift heavy. Workout to be strong by lifting heavier, because strong is the new beautiful.

Stay tuned for follow up posts later in the week and next week!

To your health and wellness,

Martin Arroyo, CPT

 

 

 

The Essence of Change

I’m going to take a break from general exercise and nutrition tips to talk about what I feel is fundamental to making any kind of lasting change. It’s something that I have begun to realize about myself through my own transformation over time, and it’s my hope that you too can get some insight from it.

I firmly believe that all of us desire to be better versions of ourselves; to be better than we were yesterday. This requires change and changerequires time, effort and consistency.  Time, effort and consistency are things we are in short supply of in this day and age where we barely have time to breathe. Here’s the thing, though: the previous statement is merely an excuse. One of the many excuses that we force ourselves to believe each day. “I don’t have the time,” “I don’t have the energy.” Sound familiar?

The real issue: change is scary. Downright terrifying. Why? Because we must challenge and confront the one thing that we really fear – our true selves. To the outside world, we usually wear a mask that shows us in the best light possible: strong, confident, caring, generous, loving, hard working.  Often what’s hidden behind that mask is doubt, fear, anxiety, depression, and perhaps even a feeling of stagnancy in your life.

Wearing the mask for too long can lead to many different crises in our lives, self-doubt, anger, and pain. It can cause hardship and turmoil. This poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar sums it up nicely:

We Wear the Mask

WE wear the mask that grins and lies,   

It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—This debt we pay to human guile;

With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,    

And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise, In counting all our tears and sighs?    

Nay, let them only see us, while  

We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries    

To thee from tortured souls arise.    

We sing, but oh the clay is vile    

Beneath our feet, and long the mile;   

But let the world dream otherwise,            

We wear the mask!

I know if you’re reading up to this point, you’re probably saying to yourself “Wow, this is kind of depressing.” I don’t blame you. But this is necessary. Introspection is required to begin making changes. It’s scary, and totally worth it.

Why is it worth it? Because it can bring us to the realization that the mask we are wearing is not necessarily a façade, but a part of what we truly are. Weuse it to hold back and suppress the darker side. The side we don’t want to show others. We can’t show thembecause that side is bad, it’s wrong…right?

As humans, we need to be able to fit into society, so we have to cultivate habits that allow us all to get along with one another. It’s an intrinsic survival mechanism, hence the mask – the mask that only shows our best qualities. If you can begin to look past this façade, and face the scary part of you – the part that isn’t what the mask makes you out to be – the one that isn’t perfect – you will find something great. You will find your true self.

The virtues that the mask extolled were not false, though most likely inflated. When confronted and ultimately forgiven by you, the imperfections and flaws which your inflated sense of self (ego) hid will lead to self-acceptance. It’s easy to accept the good, but in order to love yourself completely you have learn to accept the not-so-good. Once you do that, you may find that not much change needed, just self-acceptance leading to self-actualization.

Following this line of thought to its bottom-line, leads to truth – your own personal truth. Have you ever thought about what your passion is? What is your purpose in this life is? What mark you want to leave? Those answers are found when you face yourself- good and bad- and begin to embrace the real you. The truth comes forth and you can then really see what you want, and what you must do to obtain it. I know it sounds corny and cliché, but it’s the truth.

Now, exactly how does this relate to health, wellness, and exercise? Well,why do most people say they are going to go to the gym to get fit and healthy,wind up quitting before they reach their goal or do not even go? Why do so few people become fit? Why do even fewer maintain fitness? Because, typically, those who don’t succeed in the long run arefocused on making their mask look better rather than making themselves better as a whole. The emphasis is often placed on extrinsic qualities and rewards rather than intrinsic ones.

When we base this desire to improve on our mask only and we fall short, we quit for sake of preserving the mask. Essentially, that desire to improve yourself was no longer congruent with your mask because you were not able to keep up the best practices long enough. When we base the desire to improve ourselves intrinsically, learning to accept that we have flaws and that we won’t be perfect all the time, it will not become easier, but will be more congruent toour true self – imperfect.

So while you can still make temporary changes to your body, and perhaps look good for a little bit, you won’t feel whole until you’ve looked inside and confronted your true self, learned to accept it, love it, and ultimately act from that place in everything that you do. It’s not always about trimming the fat from your waistline so much as about trimming the fat from your life.

To your health and wellness,

Martin Arroyo, CPT

Hone in

Life is full of ups and downs. Stress is found at every corner, but just sit down, take a breath, and really marvel at the fact that you are alive and part of something great.

sethsnap

When things get scattered and messy in your life, take a seat and hone in on who you are.  See yourself and enjoy the beauty that is you.

Focus

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