why you should exercise (especially men)

When I was on my seven mile run this morning, I got to thinking about all the tremendous changes that have taken place in my life since I adopted this active lifestyle. The more I started to think, the more I realized how helpful this information might be to other people – especially men (since I am of course writing this from a male's perspective).

So below you'll find a list of random things that popped into my head today that I would like to share with you that have impacted my life in a positive way since I adopted this healthy, active lifestyle. Enjoy!

1. Larger (male) genitals

Yes, throughout my life I have had many ups and downs in regard to my weight. In sixth grade I was rather chunky and unfortunately that stuck around for a while. So right at the time when we were starting to take showers after gym class in the sixth grade, I happened to be the big kid in the locker room. One thing I was always uncomfortable with back then was the size of my privates compared to the other "normal" boys. I remember thinking, "Why did theirs look so normal and why did mine seem so abnormal?" It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I finally discovered the answer: I was fat!

What I discovered was that overweight males develop what is called a "fat pad" in there pelvic area once their body weight goes above a certain level. Once I started exercising however, I definitely noticed that my genitals became more pronounced than they had ever been before.

The reason behind this is rather obvious to me now: as the fat disappeared, my genitals went back to a normal, healthy state.

So if any of you guys out there are having trouble finding some motivation to get off your butts and go for a run or a walk or a bike ride every day, keep this little fact in the back of your mind: the heavier you are, the smaller your junk is.

2. More energy throughout the day

When I was overweight, I remember getting home at the end of the day and feeling just beat from having to stand up for eight hours at work each day. Now that I am much healthier and far more active, the idea of my feet hurting or feeling exhausted from standing or walking around all day is absurd.

What I found was that the more active I became, the more active I wanted to be in all the other areas of my life. Parking farther away from the entrance of a store was no longer a big ordeal for me. Now I took my time grocery shopping and if I had to go back and forth to get a few items, it wasn't a problem. Going for long walks around the city no longer required rest stops along the way. And by the time I would get home from an activity packed day such as this I felt rejuvenated, not beat up.

So if you want more energy and fewer excuses to be lazy, I suggest you start exercising... today!

3. Low resting heart rate

I don't know how important this little tidbit is to you, but to me it was kind of a fun surprise to discover that the more I exercised, the stronger my heart got. To you, this might sound like kind of an obvious statement but to me it was more like an aha moment. It just clicked: more exercise = stronger heart = less effort for my heart to beat when I was not exercising!

The implications of this seemingly elementary statement stretched far beyond that simple observation. To me I thought, "If my heart is healthier and is beating less throughout my waking day, then that means I am setting myself up to live a long and healthy life!"

Believe what you will, but I advise you to take in that information and see what it could mean for you in your life. Does having a strong and healthy heart matter to you? If it does, then perhaps it would be a good idea if you started exercising more often.

4. Naturally drinking more water

Before I started exercising regularly, water was not a staple for me. If anything, water was just something I would drink when soda and other processed drinks were not available to me. Of course, there were those rare occasions where I would find myself walking for an extended period of time with my friends and I would become so parched that water was the only thing that could possibly quench my thirst.

Well the good news is, once I started exercising every day, that feeling became more and more prominent in my life. Gone were my cravings for the sugary and processed garbage you find in most convenience stores. Nope, all I wanted –day and night– was water.

This change helped me in two very important ways: 1) The less soda and slur pees I drank, the more weight I lost 2) Little did I know, but the more water you drink, the easier it is for your body to eliminate fat and other toxins from your body!

So if you are familiar with that craving for water and if you want to have more of that craving in your life – exercise!

5. Clear headedness

This might be hard to understand for those of you who have never had to endure the misery of being overweight, but when you are, it clouds your mind. For me, I was only able to recognize this feeling after I lost the weight because until then I didn't really have anything to compare that feeling to.

When you are overweight, I truly believe that –just like the fat around your pelvis– fat finds its way into your brain. Despite my lack of research on this particular subject, from my experience I believe that the excess fat in your brain causes long lasting impairments in your judgment and cognition.

It was only after losing all the weight that I began to see the world through a new and much clearer lens. The more fat I removed from my system, the clearer my thoughts became. Now I can say with a great deal of certainty that if this had been the one and only benefit from adopting my new healthy lifestyle and everything else would have remained as it was, I still would have done it.

Having a clear mind has truly brought so much peace to my life. It's like seeing the world through a brand new lens; and I like what I see now too much to ever go back to that dirty lens I had before.

So if you happen to find yourself in a place where you believe your lens could use a little bit of Windex, for the love of god don't wait and start exercising!

6. Happier

Looking back on it now, when I was an overweight sloth I was absolutely miserable. Despite my best efforts to deny my unhappiness, eventually it got the best of me. After years and years of mistreating myself through my poor life habits, my body and the life that I had manifested finally came to a screeching halt and I decided that enough was enough – I deserve to be happy.

Sure, my transformation started out slowly. But I knew that over time, in the long run, it was all going to work out for the better. Now I have achieved my weight loss goal and have moved on to other health goals that I want to achieve. The difference now is that I am finally happy with myself! Boy what a difference it has made in my life to go from being displeased to finally being proud and happy.

If this is something that sounds appealing to you then you guessed it... exercise!

7. No more boredom

I remember back in the day (which I believe was a Wednesday) when I was overweight, I would regularly find myself sitting on the couch complaining of how bored I was and expecting the people around me to somehow manifest entertainment out of thin air for me.

If only someone had the foresight and the courage to just tell me to get off my butt, go outside and do something with the body I have been blessed with, what a difference it would have made. Nowadays though, boredom does not exist. In my world, whenever I start to feel angry, frustrated, irritated or restless, I don't complain... I exercise!

If this sounds like you, give it a whirl and see how it feels.

8. Craving fresh, healthy, organic foods

As you might imagine, when I was overweight I did not have the healthiest diet in the world. The majority of what I consumed was highly processed, highly refined, and nutritionally starved "food". Looking back though, it was an appropriate diet for someone who was living the lifestyle that I was living. Of course I ate lousy food, I felt lousy about myself didn't I? I felt like junk inside so of course I ate junk.

Once I started exercising and feeling better about myself, my diet naturally started changing all on its own. Before I knew it, that slice of pizza didn't really seem that appealing to me because I knew that it was not good enough to fuel my workout the following morning.

It's actually really basic stuff if you stop and think about it. Once you start treating yourself the way you ought to be treated, the idea of treating yourself poorly is no longer an option. For me the more I exercised, the more I understood how powerful and precious and fragile my life really was. After that, I resolved to allow only the most powerful and healthy foods into my body in order to fuel it.

Final Thought

It all happens for a reason, so what's keeping you from finding your reason? Start by figuring out where in your life you might not be treating yourself as well as you should be and fix it. Who knows... it might even start with... exercise?

-Corey Barton

how to lose weight and keep it off

There is (literally) a huge problem going on in this country today. Statistically about 68% of Americans are overweight and about one third are clinically obese! What makes matters worse is that these numbers continue to climb – where will it end?!

Three years ago I was a part of this frightening epidemic, then one day I decided that enough was enough. For most of my life I was in denial over what I was feeding myself every day until I could no longer hide from it.

If you are looking for advice from somebody who has actually been in your shoes and can understand how you are feeling, I urge you to keep reading. If you are not then I am sure you know someone in your life that is in need and could benefit from this information. If you do then please share this article on your facebook wall or on twitter.

Who knows? You might inadvertently change someone's life...

Step 1. Admitting I had a problem

For years I strolled through life paying absolutely no attention to my health or to my body. Every now and again people would try to help by telling me (in their own polite way) that they were concerned about my health – but I never took their concerns seriously. In my mind, I was fine. I can remember telling myself that "it's perfectly normal for a person to gain weight as they get older... that's just life."

Inevitably I had to wake up from this fantasy and finally face the numbers on the scale. At the age of 23 I looked down to see that I weighed more than 330 pounds! To help put that in some kind of perspective for you, a healthy BMI (for me) would have been anywhere between 18-25. My BMI was over 42! By definition anyone over 40 is considered a class three (morbidly) obese individual. The jig was up. I couldn't lie to myself anymore. I had to admit that I had a problem and that I needed help.

Step 2. Do research and learn from others who have already done what you are about to do (like this site)

In my experience, it is always best to take advice from people who have been successful at what they do.

If you want financial advice for instance, you wouldn't go out and talk to a bunch of broke people would you? Of course not! Instead you would go out in search of someone who has a proven track record of winning with money! If you wanted weight loss advice you wouldn't talk to overweight people or people who have been thin their whole lives. Instead you would talk to people who have successfully accomplished the weight loss that you're trying to accomplish. To me that just makes all the sense in the world. That being said, my advice to you is to get advice from individuals who used to be big and not only lost the weight, but have also kept it off for some time.

I can't tell you how often I come across these 'one-hit-wonders' who lose a bunch of weight, get on YouTube, make a video about it, reach a ton of people and then wind up gaining all the weight back. I don't know about you but I am not inclined to take the advice of someone who consistently succeeds then fails at what they do. Instead I'd rather spend my time seeking out people whose advice I feel is worth following because they did it the right way.

Step 3. Trial and error

After you have found a few people who you believe are the "real deal" and who have offered their advice, your next step is to try that advice on for size and see how it fits. Let's face facts: What you have done in your past is what brought you here today. So based on that same logic, the only way to change your future is to change your current behaviors.

To do that you have to commit to doing different things every single day that will help improve your situation now and in the future.

For example: If you can commit to burning an extra 300 calories every day through exercise while also making the commitment to reduce your caloric food intake by 200, you will lose roughly 1/7th of a pound each day. At first blush that number might seem rather insignificant but you must keep in mind that it was this exact same slow and steady progression of excessive calorie intake that got you into this mess in the first place. All you are doing now is acknowledging that same pattern and turning it around to benefit you.

You have to remind yourself that you are in this for the long haul so you need to start looking at the big picture: Yes, 1/7th of a pound doesn't feel like much progress today. But after just one week that 1/7th will have turned into an entire pound! Before you know it a year will have zipped by and voila! Now you are down more than 50 pounds! (or you are down to your ideal weight: see below)

Another thing to keep in mind throughout this entire process is that your body will allow you to lose only so much weight before finally leveling off. This happens because if you were to keep losing weight forever you would eventually just disappear! So before you begin it is a terrific idea to do some research and learn what your "ideal body weight" is so that you have a ballpark estimate for when you should expect to see your weight level off.

Step 4. Eat healthy food

I've written about this in great detail already so I will spare you and simply state that you are what you eat. If you would like to learn more about my philosophy on healthy eating please feel free to check out the following links:
'how to live naturally'
'ten ways to easily improve your health and well being'
'how i see the world: food & nutrition'
Step 5. Cardio, cardio, cardio!

There are a many different exercise programs out there to help people lose weight these days and if followed, I believe that most of them wind up being beneficial in the long run. However, for people who are trying to lose a large amount of weight, I would highly recommend focusing most of your time on doing cardio exercises like cycling, speed walking/running and swimming.

Some people would love to tell you that weight training is thee way to go if you want to lose weight. Don't get me wrong - I am a strong supporter of weight training and I agree that it can help with weight loss. All I am saying is in the initial stage of your weight loss, it will be far more beneficial if you focus most of your energy on cardio workouts. The reason behind this is purely logical: doing cardio gives you the most calories burned for your workout buck while simultaneously improving your muscle tone and strength.

Think about it – you can't go for a run or on a bike ride and avoid using your leg and calf muscles can you? With cardio you are burning a ton of calories while also building muscle (which in turn burns even more calories) and improving your cardiovascular (breathing) capacity so that you can work out even harder and longer later on. These are three very great benefits packed into one awesome workout! That's why I suggest doing cardio exercising first and then...

Step 6. After you hit your "ideal weight," focus on strength

Like I said before, there is only so much weight a person can lose before their body finally says, "Alright! I'm done!" It is only after reaching this stage that I recommend adding strength specific workouts to your already stellar cardio regimen. Specifically what I mean is to try and develop a cardio and strength training routine that will help you gradually (remember that we are in this for the long haul) transform your lighter frame into one that has more lean muscle mass.

Remember though that this is just a general outline of how I personally went about losing the weight. Feel free to experiment and reformat this to fit your individual requirements– I'm just providing you with the basics.

Step 7. How to keep it off for life

The key to long term weight management is to never give up! I believe the reason so many people find themselves in situations where they lose the weight and then gain it all back is because they simply give up and revert back to their old way of life. I am here to tell you that you can choose a different path – you can choose to be different. All you have to do in order to stay motivated and keep yourself on track is follow three simple rules:

      1. Exercise for at least 30 minutes every day
      2. Always have a goal you're trying to reach
      3. Once you reach that goal, set a new one for yourself

Perhaps you decide that after you reach your ideal weight, your new goal will be to run a certain distance that you've never run before? Maybe you decide that now you want to focus on reaching a certain body fat percentage? Or maybe your goal is to reach a new push up or pull up max? The point I am trying to make here is that it doesn't matter what your specific new goal is as long as you always have one!

Final Thoughts

So that is the long and the short of it ladies and gentlemen. Losing weight and getting in shape is really not rocket science. It's simply a matter of consciously doing more of the good stuff and less of the bad stuff.

One thing I had to keep telling myself at the beginning of my weight loss journey was that it took years to put on... expect that it will take years to come off. I know that is not what most Americans want to hear because most overweight or obese people are constantly on the lookout for the next quick fix. The reality though is that there are no quick fixes – if you can't gain a hundred pounds in one day, why would anybody think they can lose a hundred pounds in one day?

The way I see it you can either choose to stay where you're at right now and not change anything knowing that in a few years you'll still be the same (overweight). Or you can decide to change your behaviors today and guarantee that in a few years you'll be thinner and healthier for it – the choice is yours.

I've said it before and by golly I'll say it again... slow and steady wins the race!

- Corey Barton