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The 5 O'Clock Club: Sunday edition - getting & staying fit

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere...

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Wonder Woman

So, I went to see the new(ish) Wonder Woman movie recently. Man, I really dig Gal Gadot!! I loved her in the Fast & Furious movies, too. She makes me want to move to Israel — and maybe join the Israeli army.

Through the power of Google, I found this little nugget about Gadot:

Gadot received swordsmanship, Kung Fu kickboxing, capoeira and Brazilian jiu-jitsu training in preparation for the role.

In a separate article I saw several weeks ago, I read that she gained 17 pounds of muscle as she trained for the movie role.

This made me think about how people train, and how they work to achieve their goals.


Tom Brady is about to release his new book on training, setting up his post-playing career.

This article about Tom Brady is just one of many that talk about his training methods, which differ markedly from many other NFL athletes, but which are gaining attention as Tom continues to play at a high level, despite his age.

With guidance from his guru, Brady tries to be better through self-awareness (he meditates), rest and repair (he sleeps in special "athlete recovery sleepwear") and nutrition (he won't eat dairy, caffeine, white sugar or white flour).

For most of the year, Brady is a vegan. In the cold winter months, he adds some lean meat to his diet. A typical day's menu this time of year might include a breakfast smoothie—made with almond milk, a scoop of protein, seeds, nuts and a banana—a midmorning homemade protein bar, sliced up chicken breast on a salad with whole grains and legumes for lunch, a second smoothie as a snack and a dinner of quinoa with greens.

Unlike 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who had trouble maintaining his weight when he went vegan, Brady has had no problem maintaining lean mass. Guerrero says for the past several years, Brady has weighed 228 at the start of the season and dropped two to three pounds by the end. His body fat holds steady at about 10 percent.

Brady's workout regimen also is nontraditional for a football player. About 90 percent of his training is with resistance bands, and much of it is high-rep. In the offseason, he trains with Guerrero six days a week, sometimes twice a day. During the season, it's three times a day.

"He works on lower body quickness every day, doing band pulls," Edelman says. "He has someone hold the band for him to do his knee drives. He's taken that to heart to try to improve. He sees all these young guys move around with their legs, and he wants to show them he can do it too."

Captain Kirk

Kirk Cousins has spoken publicly about using the Neurocore Brain Performance Center to work on his thinking and concentration. He has also explained how he breaks his schedule down into 15-minute increments and plans every moment of his day. He also apparently sleeps in a controlled-environment capsule.

Everyone is different

These three examples — Gal Gadot, Tom Brady & Kirk Cousins -- illustrate that different people have different goals with their training regimens, and they often employ very different methods, even when their goals are similar.

For today’s 5 o’clock club, I’d like to invite you to use the comments section to discuss how you train and what your goals are. How do you work to make yourself all you can be?

To prime the pump, I’ll share my current fitness goals, and my approach to achieving them.

The Bill-in-Bangkok story

I played offensive line (center & guard) from 8 years old until high school. I was also a fairly good right fielder in baseball, and an end-of-the-bench third stringer in basketball. As a teenager in the early 70’s, I ripped my knee apart in a non-sports-related injury. Forty-five years ago, when you tore up your knee like I did, your days of playing football were over. The injury to my knee is marked by a large worm-like scar that I carry to this day, and while my knee constantly reminds me that it isn’t fully healthy, the doctors told me that they considered amputating my lower leg, so I try not to feel ungrateful.

I’ve always had a lineman’s physique — heavy-boned with at least one extra layer of fat — and I would never in my life have won a footrace. Still, a couple of years ago, I realized that my fitness and weight had spun out of control. In a matter of months, I had ballooned from around 260 pounds to 300 pounds.

I’ve tossed in a picture of me at that weight.

Fourteen months ago I decided to fix that. Unfortunately, when you’re 56 years old and badly overweight, it’s a difficult task. Still, I was determined to regain control over my weight and fitness.

I started by calculating my BMR (basal metabolic rate), and then downloading a calorie-counting application to my phone. Each day, I log my food, drink and exercise. Each day, my goal is to achieve a calorie deficit, which leads me to lose weight. I focus on a high-protein, low carb, veggie rich diet.

(The numbers in the screenshot from my phone below have my BMR built into the calculation, along with the deficit needed to achieve my target weight by a deadline, so they won’t appear to add up. The goal is to avoid having a negative number in the “Calories Remaining” space at the end of the day).

Since my joints were suffering from the weight at 300 pounds - and especially my knees - I wanted an exercise that would burn a lot of calories with very little impact on my lower body joints. I bought a rowing machine for my home. I normally put a movie on TV and rowed for 90 minutes per night while I watched the show.

(here’s a picture of my rower, folded up for storage)

As my weight started dropping, I began walking. I started at 20 to 30 minutes per day, and gradually increased until I was walking between 90 minutes and 2 hours daily.

After 6 months of diet & calorie-burning exercise (walking & rowing), I was 45 pounds lighter, and at 255 pounds, I started lifting weights. I focused on basic resistance training: chest, biceps, triceps, shoulders and back. I stayed away from leg work, relying on the walking to keep my legs decently fit, without straining my poor knees and ankles too much. I use protein powder supplement & creatine to support my development of lean muscle mass, and increase endurance during training.

As I traded fat for muscle, for a few weeks my weight actually increased as my waistline decreased. My weight went up from 255 to 267 pounds, before it topped out and started dropping again.

About a year after I started the program, I changed my rowing from marathon-calorie-burns to shorter, faster, aerobic-sprints.

My program now is a 90-minute walk every day. In addition, I alternate days between sprints on the rowing machine and weightlifting in the gym. Today, I’m 57 years old, my current weight is 257 pounds, and my medium term goal is to get below 240 by the end of the year.

This picture was taken on a bicycling trip last week.

As you can see, I’ve still got a ways to go, but my fitness has improved dramatically from those 300-pound days of not-so-long-ago.

My ultimate target is to improve my strength & endurance levels, and get down to 230 pounds by August 2018. That’s another 27 pounds to lose. With 13 months to achieve that target, I think I’m likely to get there.

So that’s my fitness story.

I invite you to discuss

i. your fitness goals and training methods in the comments section below, with

ii. a focus on any tips that you think can help others.

Following on from my story, my key tips are that — if you are over 50 and not fit I suggest the following:

  • get active -- even walking makes a difference.
  • count calories — in many ways, losing weight is just an exercise in mathematics.
  • don’t push the envelope too hard — Now in my late 50s my body doesn’t heal as quickly as it used to. At this age, I am much more careful to avoid injury. In my view, when you’re over 50 and unfit, it’s better to take it easy, and exercise consistently, than to push your limits too hard and have to take 6 weeks off to heal.
  • do something you enjoy — I watch movies when I use the rower, and I listen to music while I walk. It’s easier to exercise daily if it doesn’t feel like work.
  • have measurable goals, and measure regularly — I measure calories daily & weekly; I check my weight every morning; I record my time & distance for each session of walking or rowing; I track the weight & number of reps every time I lift. With mobile apps it’s easy to track. I also copy my daily numbers onto a spreadsheet on my computer that helps me track results over the long term.
  • Don’t do a one-month program; upgrade your lifestyle - find a way to comfortably integrate your diet & exercise into your lifestyle so that you never stop doing it.
  • be consistent - do something every day


What’s the main goal of your fitness program?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    Increased muscle mass
    (22 votes)
  • 27%
    Lower body fat percentage
    (42 votes)
  • 18%
    Simple weight loss
    (28 votes)
  • 9%
    Improved cardiovascular fitness
    (15 votes)
  • 0%
    Increased speed
    (1 vote)
  • 1%
    Increased endurance
    (3 votes)
  • 1%
    Prepare for competitive sports
    (3 votes)
  • 17%
    I just want to look good
    (26 votes)
  • 7%
    As long as I can lift my beer bottle, I figure I’m fit enough
    (12 votes)
152 votes total Vote Now