A bit off the (typical) topic - helping a friend get fit enough to get fit
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  1. #1
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    A bit off the (typical) topic - helping a friend get fit enough to get fit

    I've got a friend - we've been friends since we were 4... we're 42/43 - who has become a poster child of American "Fitlessness". He's 6'3", 235. Not bad on paper. But as he puts it "That's all fat". He really has lost all muscle in his upper body. He literally can not do one push up. His cardio is worse. He can't run 100 yards without a break. He's now riddled with back pain, knee pain, shoulder pain, foot pain... etc. etc. It's as if he simply doesn't have the musculature to support his mass.

    But I grew up racing bikes with him. He loves (loved?) to ride. But as is typical with so many... Kids, job, time, etc. became excuses. Now, he feels he's too out of shape to get in shape. And he sees me/my training, racing (like many of you, I'm lean, in shape, etc.) as not attainable, irrelevant... He's not bitter or a whiner about it... just doesn't see "me" as a realistic possibility. I don't expect him to - I talk only about riding together (haven't in 15 years) not racing. I talk about hiking not running, etc. My fear is that he's running out of time - that each year, it's getting harder and harder to reverse the damage (heart, etc.) and rebuild muscle (test levels dropping, etc.).

    I need advice on how to advise! I want to race into my 80s. I don't want to be pushing my friend in a chair in our 60s.

  2. #2
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    There's very little you can do. Even if you cajole him into the occasional bike ride, the change is going to have to come from him. Also, it might require a major life change (switching jobs, moving, divorce, kids leaving for college, etc) for him to have the psychological space to make those changes.

  3. #3
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    Unless he's willing to make changes, I can't see anything happening and wouldn't anticipate a good outcome for him. You can't build health and fitness on excuses.

  4. #4
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    If he's that bad this isn't really about riding bikes at this point.

    I see only two options really. Nothing, or putting all the cards on the table and letting him know, directly, that he's a slug putting his future life at risk. Personally, I'd decide between the two on a friendship to friendship basis. There's really only a couple guys I'm tight enough with to read the riot act over it. Most I'd say it's their choice and leave as is. Hinting ect probably won't do much here. He obviously knows he's out of shape and I'm pretty sure he must know if he was to be honest with himself that being too far gone to do anything is just an excuse.

    Good luck with this one.

  5. #5
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    The simple fact is....You have to start somewhere.

    I'm around 5'11" tall and 3 years ago was just shy of 300 pounds....so I've got your friend beat by a mile. Now I'm 190 pounds and can TT a flat 40K in around 55 minutes. With that said...When I started getting back in shape again, I started out riding my trainer 45 minutes a day, 5 days a week easy...then progressed to an hour a day 5 days a week until I felt good enough to get on the road. Then that progressed into 25-35 mile rides, I joined a club and started riding longer. By the end of the first summer I had dropped around 60 pounds.

    It's all in the mindset though...if you don't think you can get back in shape, you won't. It's as simple as that.

    I knew when I couldn't bend over and tie my shoe any longer I had to do something about it or I was heading to a quick death. Sometimes it takes an incident like that to know you need to make changes....maybe your friend needs the same thing. If he has kids, ask him if he wants to see them graduate college...if so, then he needs to start taking better care of himself or he may not get to see it happen!
    Snakebit: "How many times do I have to tell you that I don't have a source? I don't make a note of everything I see or hear on the internet and you don't have to take my word for it."

  6. #6
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    If you're close enough friends, for this, ride him like a cheap pony. Call him out. Shame him. Talk smack. Get under his skin. Press his buttons.

    He didn't get like that overnight, and he won't get fit again overnight. But he has to start somewhere. get a $100 beach cruiser so he can sit upright and flog his ass on the bike path.

    Tell him to walk around the block or you'll tell his wife he's banging the neighbor. Whatever it takes.
    * not actually a Rock Star

  7. #7
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    he has kids? What ages? Things won't change until he wants them to. Do his kids ride? Perhaps he will ride with them.

    I was in a similar situation a couple of years ago. Decided inside that I wanted to make the change. And did so. I tell my story to people that say they want to get back in shape, but don't make any changes. I had a very similar conversation with my dad one visit. This is the gist of what I tell them.

    The goal is to have fun. Don't worry about what others are doing or what they think. Have fun. Nothing says you have to do "X" (lift massive weights, ride 100 miles, race, etc) -- get the heart moving and have fun. Keep at it. Have fun. Before you know it, you'll enjoy it.

    Don't have time? The time is there if you want it to be there. Before you know it, you will have more time for other things because you exercised. And had fun doing so.

    I didn't gain my weight, and become a blob overnight. Changing that was not happening overnight either. Takes time. If you are not having fun, find something that is.


    The biggest mistake I see is guys think they have to jump in with some massive goal. I'm gonna do a century or race. Or they think they can never do something. And they have to be macho about it. BS.

    Somewhere I read about women and why many of them run. Not for the exercise, but for the social aspect. I've noticed this in cycling as well -- it is the social aspect for many of them. They have FUN! Are comfortable with what they are doing. Guys get the testosterone going and feel all intimidated. Was very insightful to the differences in midsets.

    One other thing: Who cooks at his house? THAT is the person that needs to understand how nutrition plays the biggest role in our health. Cut out processed foods, eat healthy (and yummy), and the body will respond as well. The kids can learn to cook and will enjoy it, IF the parents enjoy doing so and teach it that way.

    if you are not having fun, why bother?

  8. #8
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    Kids often turn out like their parents. If he won't do it for himself, maybe he will for his kids. He and his wife begin eating healthier, kids will eat healthier. He starts riding, kids will start doing healthy exercise, if they aren't already, and more important be more likely to continue throughout their life rather than stop after high school. As others have said, HE has to decide he wants to do it. He'll have to decide to reduce his daily calories to something like 1900 or so (and start eating gobs of fiber.) and start doing some moderate exercise and slowly build up. Once he looses the first 5 lbs he'll be encouraged to continue. Probably wouldn't hurt for him to talk to his doc about it as well.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by InfiniteLoop
    Kids often turn out like their parents. If he won't do it for himself, maybe he will for his kids. He and his wife begin eating healthier, kids will eat healthier. He starts riding, kids will start doing healthy exercise, if they aren't already, and more important be more likely to continue throughout their life rather than stop after high school. As others have said, HE has to decide he wants to do it. He'll have to decide to reduce his daily calories to something like 1900 or so (and start eating gobs of fiber.) and start doing some moderate exercise and slowly build up. Once he looses the first 5 lbs he'll be encouraged to continue. Probably wouldn't hurt for him to talk to his doc about it as well.
    Oddly, he is unique in his house - 21-year-old son is lean and fit, 16-year-old daughter in fantastic shape and his wife... 5'7" 115 lbs (and hot!). At home, he eats fine - it's all day long while working...

    I think you guys are right though - HE needs to do this. I just hope it doesn't take a heart attack or something like that wake him up.

    Thanks.

  10. #10
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    Print this thread out and give it to him.... Maybe that will wake him up a bit.

  11. #11
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    Some good replies here. I agree with DesnaePhoto's approach about emphasizing moving and having some fun. People are right about it ultimately being the individual's choice, but I think most of us would admit that it is helpful to have some company when taking on a challenge. If you have time, maybe you could offer to go on walks with him or if he has access to a bike and trainer, you could bring yours over and do sessions with him on your easy days.

    I think one challenge for a lot of athletes dealing with non-athletes (or out of shape former athletes) is knowing what sort of expectations to have and what sort of attitude to approach the situation with. The kind of riding/training a competing racer or hard club rider does on a regular basis looks completely unattainable to someone in rough shape.

    Sometimes it's worse with someone who has an athletic history as they have preconceptions of what they're capable of, but also know the amount of work it takes to achieve that, which can just wind up fueling the exercise-intimidation factor.

    Personally, I would just try to get them moving at all on some sort of regular basis and see if my presence would facilitate that in any way and then go from there. Whatever happens, it's admirable that you care enough about your friend to try and help them.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by slimjw
    Sometimes it's worse with someone who has an athletic history as they have preconceptions of what they're capable of, but also know the amount of work it takes to achieve that, which can just wind up fueling the exercise-intimidation factor.
    Here here! In the 70's as a cat 1 I routinely rode 25 - 50 mile training rides @ 25-30mph. When I started riding again it was tough for me to do 10 miles @ 15mph. VERY frustrating!

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