View Full Version : Overweight, out of shape - help!

August 17th, 2002, 07:42 PM
Ok, I know this problem has probably been tackeled before but I could use some advice for my own personal benifit. I'm 19 and about 50 lbs overweight. I'm 5'3 and weigh 190. I'm not horribly ashamed of my body or anything like that. But I do know that I am horribly out of shape. Ever since I was a kid I've loved to swim and when I was in 6th grade I finally got some training to learn the proper strokes. Durning that time I lost my baby fat and was in better shape than I have been in since. I joined the swimming team my freshman year and got all the way through the training season before I had to quit (due to my slack in grades). I've tried different work out routines, excercise videos, etc. But nothing has worked as well as swimming has. I am again going to start swimming to get into shape but I don't feel I'm ready to begin joining anything like masters. Does anyone have any suggestions for good swimming workouts that I could do 3-4 days a week that will get me back in shape and ready to join something like masters for competitions. Thanks to anyone who can help.

August 17th, 2002, 11:26 PM
Don't worry about your weight that much. I was over 200 pounds until recently and I'm only 5'4". But now this past couple months I started to swim 4 to 5 days workouts for an hour. But in your situation I would start at 30 minutes for 2 to 4 days a week for a few months and then 45 mintues for some more months at 2 to 4 times a week and then an hour 3 to 5 times a week. Do this thru a lap swim program. I don't swim on a team myself and because of my work I was limted to about 2 days a week and it was hard to do more than 30 to 40 mintues because I had not built up the condition until recently. When I was your age I was only 130 pounds but weight more than most swimmers my age. Anyway, I swam my first meet since 1977 and did fair compared to most people in my age group in the 50 meter breastroke that probably weight less than me.

August 18th, 2002, 12:54 PM
Hi Melissa,

Readiness to join a Masters team has been discussed in this forum and a similar thread was for a while featured on the homepage. The gist of the responses was that anyone who can swim is ready to join Masters and from your description of your ability I would say you are a candidate.

I highly recommend joining a team. On a team you will find: motivation, camaraderie, instruction, encouragement and fun. Although you may enjoy solo workouts, they won't have the power of the team experience.

I have been a Masters swimmer for about 2 years, and based on what I have read in these threads, I believe my experience is pretty similar across the nation. My team has a range of swimmers from very beginner to Olympians. The swimmers are in a lane with people of similar ability and the coach adjusts the workout across the pool to suit the needs of each lane.

Meanwhile, this forum has a whole section on workouts from which you can probably find plenty of material to formulate some workouts for yourself.

Good luck!

August 18th, 2002, 10:23 PM
I have nothing against teams. It depends upon your schedule. Teams do help you become organized and they are based upon people near your ability. Also, you able to get instrucation on your strokes and starts and turns, which is harder on your own. Also, the team will work you out on all the strokes. Lap swimming people tend to do basically freestyle if they don't have a background much in the other strokes. My situation makes it easier to swim on my own but your's might be different.

August 19th, 2002, 09:43 AM
Kim has it right Penni,
Don't NOT join masters because you think you're not ready or not in good enough shape to swim on a team. Swimming is probably one of the most boring sports to practice, and doing it alone won't last. At least, for me.

I joined a masters team completely out of shape and overweight. 207 at 5,10. I had been swimming competitively most of my life, but when I first got back in, I could barely finish WARMUP. After a month or 2, my muscle recognition finally started to come back. But, if it wasn't for swimming with a team, getting motivation and comraderie of my teammates, I don't think I would have stuck it out for that long.

And in the end, 6 months later, I was 182, 25lbs I lost. Best weightloss program known to man (or woman) methinks.


August 19th, 2002, 10:30 AM
Not everyone can do a masters team. Some people like myself because of our jobs have hours that don't fit into a team schedule and also the nearest team is about 18 to 20 miles on the other side of town. Also, one can motivate oneself without a team. When I decided to go back into competition I started to workout more. As an adult it up to you to swim. There are no parents around to push you to practice like when you were a kid. The coach can make suggestions but it still comes down to you.

August 21st, 2002, 04:41 PM

I would recommend that you talk with a health professional that you trust. I was almost 60-70 lbs over where I ought to be, and the doctor made a recommendation to a low carb/no carb change in nutrition. Much to my surprise (because I had never believed that dietary reasons was a factor in my situation) I dropped nearly all the weight. Now, I urge anyone that asks me about what I recommend, I say to go talk to a health professional first. Such a lifestyle change is not appropriate for everyone, and can be very dangerous, too. But back to swimming, I found it much more enjoyable to practice again (when I could break from coaching) without the fear, anxiety, and excuses that I would make--- from what I would attribute to self-conciousness on weight situation. As far as team involvement goes, Kim says it all, don't wait to join a masters group, run to them. They will be your best bet when it comes to sustaining swimming, being a constant support group, and the coaching (if available).

Coach Brad

August 24th, 2002, 08:18 PM
Thank you everyone for the feedback. Sorry it took so long to come back, but I lost the website address. (whoops!) Thank you for the inspiration. I think, for now, I will just practice on my own. I have school at nights and Saturdays and I still would like to get in some sort of shape before I commit myself to a team. When I feel ready, or possibly feel I'm starting to lose motivation, then I will join a team. As for diet, I've SERIOUSLY considered a low carb diet becuase it seems right for my body type, but it is very hard to do that in a house full on pastas, bread, and potatoes (and I love all three). :) But I'm trying to convince my mother to start a low carb diet with me. Thanks for the tips.

Matt S
August 24th, 2002, 10:53 PM

Where in MO are you? Near St. Louis? If so, give me a shout when you want to talk about teams (private email; it's an option off of this forum), and we can discuss area teams. If not, the places to swim link in this web site can help you find a team wherever you are. In terms of meets, there is usually a nice SCM meet in November in the St. Louis area, the Illinois State SCY Championships are in Evanston in April (that is a very high quality meet), and SIU/Carbondale has a good LCM meet in July. It's a perfect tune-up for LCM Nationals. The Chicago area has LOTS of meets, but I can only vouch for the Illinois States since that is the only one I have attended. If you like open water, and would like to take an immediate reading of where you are right now, the Big Shoulders Swim is Sept 7th off of Navy Pier in Chicago. You have time to enter, and can chose 2.5K or 5K. Nice chance to get a "before" time, so next years swim will show SO MUCH improvement.

In any event, I would recommend finding a team sooner rather than later. With all due respect to Cynthia impressive self discipline, the boredom factor, and the same ole/same ole workout syndrom will set in faster than you think. Boredom is the greatest enemy, as you have probably discovered with your other exercise programs.


August 24th, 2002, 11:58 PM

I live in Kansas City. About 4 hours from St. Louis, so It'd definatly not be ideal for me to join a St. Louis team. lol :) I was actually at the Y yesterday and I'm considering joining one of their swim teams 'for now' just because I work 3 full days (8am -5pm) a week and go to school Monday-Thursday night classes and Saturday 12-3 pm. I really need something a little more flexible to fit my schedule. I do think that working with a team or coach is definatly better for me than just working alone, because of the motivation factor. For some reason, I have a need to (for lack of better word) impress people. Not that I want to show off, just that I do a lot better and don't want to quit on someone who is helping/coaching/inspiring me. Don't worry, I will eventually be joining a team, I just have to see how my workload for school is going to be. I certainly don't want to flunk out of school because of a swim team. School comes first, then swimming. Thanks again for the advice. Feel free to offer more.

Matt S
August 25th, 2002, 10:33 PM
Funny thing about impressing people. These folks on the Masters teams, they have no idea what you swam like when you were younger. You could be setting PR's, or minutes off of your best times, either way, they will only know how fast your are from the first day you show up for one of their practices.

So...you can work for weeks on your own to get into rip-roaring good shape, then go to your first Masters workout. You might get a little better from there, and your new teammates will think you have made just a little improvement. Or, you could show up slow and sloppy, then rapidly get much better. Even though you are still miles away from what you used to be, your new teammates will be blown away by how much you have "improved" since you joined their team.

Hold off on joining a team because of busy schedule, etc. That's legitimate. BUT DON"T KID YOURSELF ABOUT NEEDING TO BE IN GOOD SHAPE BEFORE JOINING A TEAM! The longer you hold onto that fallacy, the longer it will take you to comprehend what Masters swimming is all about. Put it another way, the only reason to do Masters swimming is because it pleases you. What other people feel/think/want about your swimming is not important. This is a truism that can take many years of Masters swimming before you completely comprehend its depth and profundity.


August 25th, 2002, 11:37 PM
Penny, its up to you. There are pros and cons both ways. I know when I first started swimming back in summer of 1999, I even had to teach myself to breath again in freestyle and my breastroke kick felt weird. I got back into swimming because of weight and didn't want to get any heavier than I was. But my form improve a lot and that's when I decided to swim in a masters meet.