Fitness Friday presents: Plan 9 from Cyberspace

Robert Cianflone

You can't win a fight without a good gameplan and in the battle against weight loss, you don't want to be that wrestler who gets knocked out trying to strike. Stick to your guns and chances are, your guns will stick to you.

What the deuce?

That's right fight fans, Fitness Friday is back and better than ever. But are you? Probably not, since I know a good portion of you are still mired in wintry weather, thanks to that furry little nuisance named Phil who can't stand the sight of his own shadow.

Next time he pops his head out of that tiny hole in the ground, see if you can get a clean shot.

The good news is, it remains cold enough to keep those jackets on and when you take them off, you won't look out of place if you're still clinging to that mohair sweater. But remember folks, you can't wear that thing into the pool, which by my count, opens in just over two months.

It's crunch time (literally).

That means you need to get your butt back into the gym. Or the basement, if watching fitness DVDs and stepping over dead mice is your thing. Nobody here is judging you and the important thing is you're doing something. You know, something other than sucking down Shamrock shakes.

But I beg of you, fellow fitness enthusiasts, make sure you have a plan.

What does that mean, exactly? Going to the gym three days a week and doing the same boring exercises every time is not a plan. That's a routine (and a boring one, at that). When I say plan, I mean figure out what the hell it is you want to accomplish.

Are you trying to lose weight?

Do you want to gain muscle?

Would you like to run a six-minute mile?

If you're trying to lose weight -- the right way -- then why are you spending 45 minutes on the flat bench? You aren't (hopefully), because you're too busy wiping your sweat off the StairMaster. That sounds pretty obvious to most people, but it's easy to get seduced by the lure of the equipment.

And hey, look, there's my buddy doing bicep curls, maybe I'll go say hello. You know, just for a minute.

That stuff doesn't happen when you have a plan, because you've already mapped out your path to success. The key is to stick to it and work it like a job. After all, you are getting paid for your hard work, it just happens to come in a lump sum when you step onto the beach for the first time this summer and unveil the goods.

In some cases, it is polite to stare.

Now that I've managed to drag myself back into the gym, my plan is to get stronger. I stopped by a broski's office last week and discovered that he -- along with his assistant -- had a curling contest and set a record at 46 reps. They bet I couldn't break it and you know what?

They were right.

I went down in flames. Probably because most of my muscles are for show, not tell. But I'm a competitive bloke and I'm not going to let some blustering blowhard have the last laugh just because I was too out-of-shape to earn a spot on his dry-erase board.

Yet.

See, I too have a plan. Not to just hit the iron and work my way up the plates by lifting progressively heavier weight (more on that next week), but by making sure I don't walk out of the gym and piss it all away, literally, because I failed to get the right protein into my body.

I figure I've got about an hour to maximize my gains.

In addition, I can't waste an entire afternoon at the local supplement store trying to decipher the labels of 100 different mystery powders, while some swollen salesperson rambles on about their pill-of-the-month club. Thanks, but no thanks.

And any protein powder that boasts a hammer and sickle prominently on the label can stay right where it is.

After all, I've got the Internet at my disposal, so there's no excuse not to do my homework. A colleague of mine recently introduced me to ViSalus, who I first thought was that bearded guy from The Hobbit. Turns out, it's one of the leading companies in promoting weight loss -- as well as performance recovery -- so I decided to put their Tri-Sorb protein blend under the microscope.

This is what I found:

Each protein has been specially processed to remove fat, remove lactose, and remove carbohydrates. In addition, we have processed the soy to remove the isoflavones, so there is no estrogenic affect. The "shake mix that tastes like a cake mix."

I like the idea of combining soy and whey protein for a prolonged delivery of amino acids, rather than relying on a single protein source alone. To that end, it would probably be easier for you to just check out the link that has the ViSalus 411 (click here for the breakdown) rather than me trying to play interpreter.

True, there's not a ton of protein in each serving -- but that's okay -- because you're using every gram, instead of ingesting 50 and pooping away 30 like most other leading shakes. In fact, why am I even rambling on about this? I should just pack some up and ship it out to you, the reader, because that's how I roll. The man with the plan.

Stay tuned.

In the meantime, I want to hear what you're doing to get in shape for the summer. Exercises, diet plans, you name it. If you have it, I want to know about it, and check back next week as we start breaking down the meat and potatoes of diet and exercise (so to speak).

Fitness Friday is sponsored by ViSalus. Opinions expressed are solely of the author. For more information on the ViSalus line of products click here.

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