Working out alone eventually gets boring. Working out with a friend adds a little bit of competition to your workouts and gives your someone to at least talk to while you abuse yourself. At the same time, I don’t want to just go work out with some random meat head that makes me feel super inadequate. The problem I run into most often is that the vast majority of the people I would want to hang out with aren’t interested in going to the gym with me. A while ago I began searching for a solution for this problem.
As a family man with a kid who takes up most of my time and an incredibly busy life in general, I don’t get to just go socialize and make friends very often. Social networking sites are fantastic for me because they allow me to still connect and socialize with people on some level without having to go to some formally organized event that would require a babysitter. Naturally, when I began looking for a solution to the aforementioned problem I started in the app stores. Most of the fitness apps that I found are just calorie trackers or maybe suggested routine apps. Then I caught a conversation a couple friends were having via Twitter talking about following each other on something called Fitocracy.
There is something about assembling your own bicycle that makes riding it that much more fun. If you have the time, and the willingness to learn, you can search the classifieds, Craigslist, eBay, and especially garage sales and find something truly unique and often times cheap.
The easiest type of bike to fix up or just create, is a single-speed or fixed gear. They are much more simple bikes as both the single-speed and fixed gear…have only one gear. Fewer moving parts means fewer potential problems, which means you need to know less and can focus on just riding. The parts you will need to find in an actual shop to complete a build after you find a good frame and fork are typically pretty low cost, and easy to find. If you don’t want to take the time to search the streets for that rare bike you always dreamed of, then I recommend taking a trip around the internet to design your own ride.
My biggest challenge to getting fit has always been just overcoming the pure boredom I experience when doing normal workouts. I have never liked the gym, weights are heavy, running is lame, and the people in workout videos make me feel stupid. That is probably why cycling was my key to success. Still, it’s hard to dispute the millions of before and after images of people that spend 90 days doing this crazy P90X workout and end up looking like a whole new person (or half a new person depending on your viewpoint). Whenever someone talks about a “workout” that involves watching a video, I can’t help but think about the legend himself, Richard Simmons. Growing up, Simmons’ curly afro and short shorts represented all I knew about fitness. Eventually, as I got into shape, I realized that to really hit the goal I had set for myself, I would need to try something new. I did the gym thing, but by myself I didn’t really know what would work best, which is why I reluctantly decided to try my luck at P90X.
If you have stumbled across my twitter account, chased me to any of the other sites I contribute to, stopped to look at the image attached to my profile-of-Doom, or taken a close look at the banner for this little series, you might begin to deduce that I am into cycling. It’s the truth, I am a lycra-wearing, two-wheeling, bell-ringing, cycling fool. In truth, cycling is really the only sport I actually care about, though a few years ago that wasn’t the case. When it came time to get in shape I decided that a bike would be my means to a healthier life. Cycling is a low impact activity, which is important to a bigger dude because just the act of carrying all your weight can present challenges to various work-outs like running. If you are really interested in the play by play of that story I created a Tumblr account when I started riding and chronicled everything up until a short while ago. It’s fun to re-read now and hear the excitement in my words over riding 10 miles and then to see the transformation to riding 100 miles a year later, and eventually to my first race earlier in 2012.
One of my goals for this little column is to help you wade through the massive piles of junk out there claiming to be the “best” or “only” way to get fit. I can get behind some science as much as the next guy, but at some point, even I get bored. Somehow when it comes to fitness-related science, specifically diets; it seems that you can find science to support almost any diet. Take the Cotton Ball diet, for example, this diet is simple”¦why take up precious room in your belly with pesky food when you can just stuff a little cotton in there instead. Not enough flavor for you? Dip your cotton ball in some hot sauce, it’s delicious!
Obviously that diet is insane. There are no questions about it. However, if you Google long enough you will find the science that says it is not all that terrible. The Cotton Ball Diet is the extreme end of the spectrum. The gray area comes when the more realistic diets begin to enter the picture. Trying a diet can be costly, confusing, and worst of all, totally ineffective. The problem is that most science agrees that the right diet can contribute to your health way more than exercise can. When I started to get healthy I knew the first thing I needed to do was change my eating habits. I’m not a scientist, so I won’t pretend to babble on about what is healthy and what isn’t. I will tell you what I have tried, and what has worked for me. Everyone is different and not everything I have tried will work for you. Still, the way I found the right diet was by trying stuff that worked for other people. I now have a pretty easy diet to follow that doesn’t require a lot of sacrificing what I like.