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The 10 Best Decisions I’ve Ever Made (About Exercise)

When you quit Adderall, you may start to feel a renewed interest in physical activities. For one thing, you’ll want to stave off the weight gain that often results from the lifestyle changes related to quitting Adderall (like eating full meals and sleeping at night). But more than that, virtual reality headset most people report feeling naturally compelled to get out and do something after quitting Adderall (when they’re not in bed feeling like a slug, anyhow). The body is built to thrive on regular physical activity; when you’re lost in Adderall World, you’re doing mostly mental activities and suppressing your body’s natural urges to be physical. When you quit, those urges come back.

I’m a total exercise nut. As I prepare for my first sprint triathlon, here’s a list of the 10 best  decisions I’ve ever made as it relates to exercise…

1. Stupid-looking joint exercises before every workout

Thanks to being genetically endowed with abnormally large man-boobs (pecs), I could bench-press more than double my body weight when I was younger. But all of that heavy lifting took a toll on my shoulders. Eventually I had to start sitting out/going light on bench press for weeks at a time because my rotator cuffs were starting to hurt. There were exercises that worked the rotator cuff (like lying on your side and rotating a 5lb dumb-bell over and over), but they looked silly, felt pointless, and were really more for preventing problems than fixing them.

I made a promise to myself that if I ever started over with weight lifting, I would do those stupid joint exercises from the beginning. And I kept that promise: All of my workouts these days start with light rotator cuff exercise. I haven’t had a shoulder problem yet in 2 years since picking back up with my exercise habits. I also stretch before every workout.

2. The $30 IronMan sports watch

I was at Wal-Mart one day and saw a classic IronMan digital sports watch (i.e., with stopwatch and such) on sale for $30. I almost didn’t buy it for fear that I was making an impulsive purchase, but holy crap do I ever use the hell out of that thing. The best $30 I ever spent. A sports watch is a must-have when you really get into aerobic stuff (e.g., running, etc.).

P.S. – Buy one from Amazon and I get money! Note: They have a really inexpensive one with a metal band. Don’t buy it; the last thing you need on a long run is a boiling piece of metal on your wrist. Get one with a plastic/resin band.

3. Avoided mirrors for two months

Shortly after this past holiday season I looked at myself in the mirror and was severely displeased with how flabby I’d let myself get with all of the time away from my exercise routine. So, standing in front of that mirror, looking at all my flab, and inspired this awesome story from the life of over-the-top punk rocker Henry Rollins, I made a pact with myself not to look in a mirror again until I had run two laps at my local park (2 laps = 6.4 miles). I figured the training it would take to build up to a 6+ mile run would burn all that flab off so I would see a big change when I finally looked in a mirror. I was right.

It was hard to avoid mirrors at first (I would even squint my eyes while shaving in the morning so I couldn’t see my body), but I got accustomed to it. It was amazingly motivating. My exercise frequency doubled because I would work towards a mental image of what I wanted my body to look like when I finally looked in the mirror again (plus not being able to see the progress made me work twice as hard, just to be sure). Then, a month or so later, I achieved my goal, and was totally floored by what I saw in the mirror (“Holy shit I’m ripped!”).

3. Warm up your core first

A personal trainer gave me this tip. Doing abdominal work-outs first warms up your whole core and energizes you so you don’t have to start your workout cold. Changed my life. And my stomach.

4. Dedicated running day

Running can be incredibly pleasurable if you make it a big event surrounded by pleasurable things. I choose one day per weekend (whichever is going to have better weather) and go for a long run in a public park of my choosing. Treadmills and indoor running loops can’t touch the fun of a long outdoor run at a pretty park that is built for it.

5. Working out when I was rushed

“There’s no way I can work out tonight. The gym closes in an hour and it’ll take me 15 minutes to get there and change. I’ll only have like 20-30 minutes to work out. Might as well skip it.”

Usually, when I had this thought, I would just skip the workout. Then one day I said “No, damn it, I’m going to do it anyway: I’m going to work every muscle I planned to work, 3 sets of each, and I’m going to do it in the 30 minutes that I have.” Result: I had a killer workout and discovered several new exercises in the process (excluding time-intensive exercises forced me to be inventive).

Working out under a time crunch makes you a more inventive exerciser, and that will make exercising more fun for you in the future (more variety at your disposal).

6. Working out when I had no motivation/energy

Some of my best and strongest workouts have started with me thinking “Grrooooaaannn. I really do not feel like lifting a finger right now — much less hundreds of pounds several times for an hour. Sigh. OK, here goes a set of ab’s.”

Here’s a hint: It’s OK to be impulsive and slightly lazy once you’re in the gym. So you don’t feel like doing heavy bicep curls? Slack off and just do the same amount of pull-ups. Don’t feel like running on the treadmill? Get on the bicycle instead and watch some TV.

Like working out when you don’t have a lot of time, working out when you don’t feel like it — and allowing yourself to be impulsive and lazy about how you exercise each muscle — breeds inventiveness, which will create more variety in the future.

7. Failure sets

I read a blog a while back (that I can’t find) where  a guy put on a stupid amount of muscle in a unbelievably short amount of time using one key principle: Lift till failure, every set. You can’t get stronger if you don’t take your body past its limit. Don’t do “3 sets of 10”, do “3 sets of [until I can’t lift it anymore]”. I do this every so often, because I’m too lazy to do it every time. It’s uncomfortable and hard, but it really does catapult you forward.

8. Running to music

You probably already know about this one. Myself, on the other hand, never did much long distance running, and I didn’t have an iPod until I was like 25. Running to music is a totally different experience than running without music. Without music, all you have is the sound of all your panting and wheezing, which makes you conscious of it, which makes you psych yourself into running slower and stopping sooner.

9. Signing up for a competitive event

The biggest enemies of exercise progress are plateauing and getting bored. When you’ve reached most of your fitness goals, and your body looks pretty rockin’, it’s hard to invent a reason to keep pushing yourself (much less pushing harder). When you’re out of self-invented goals, sign up for something: 5k, 10k, half-marathon, full marathon, triathlon — whatever sounds doable and kind of fun based on where you’re at.

Personally, I just signed up for my first sprint triathlon. It’s a totally newbie tri (2 mile run, 10 mile bike, 1/4 mile swim), but I am a triathlon newbie so that makes sense. Plus I’m a terrible swimmer and more than 1/4 mile would be too intimidating for a first event. Just signing up got me back into prioritizing exercise progress (vs. just maintenance).

10. Get friends to compete with you (preferably friends of the opposite sex).

Ok, I was a little pumped about doing my first sprint triathlon. And then I asked two of my attractive female friends to do it with me. Now I’ve got a fire under my ass. I’m also going to take a body fat measurement soon, and then take another reading right before the event for further motivation.

BONUS: Work the big muscles first.

I used to be so haphazard about which exercises I did in what order, constantly asking myself “What should I work next?”. Then I saw a random ad for a personal trainer in my gym with quick exercise tips on it, one of which was “Generally you want to work your biggest muscles first”. Totally took the guesswork out of my workouts and made selecting the next exercise much more automatic.

BONUS: Switching from Dr. Pepper to water.

When you start your workout, you’re going to face the consequences of whatever you ate that day. If you ate well, you’ll be thanking yourself. If you ate badly, you’ll feel it when you start trying to burn it. Switching to water from soft drinks/coffee is a hard adjustment to make at first, but once you adapt it’s easy to maintain, and you’ll thank yourself for it every time you go for a run after work and don’t feel the Coke you drank at 3pm burping back up. Plus it cuts hundreds of calories off your diet without you having to think about it much (after you adjust).

9 Responses to “The 10 Best Decisions I’ve Ever Made (About Exercise)”

  1. Tyler says:

    Great posts, Mike! I really liked the Henry Rollins post last week and can’t wait to see what is in store for next Tuesday.

    I’ve been working out for 3 months now since I (mostly) quit Adderall and have gained 20 pounds, but I’m happy about that and I want to gain even more weight! That’s because it is all muscle weight and I have a thin frame so the results show fast and it feels great to not feel sickly and underweight because I spent too much time exhausting my brain on Adderall.

    I just want to commend you on how well you are doing with this site. I don’t usually subscribe to most blogs/sites because they aren’t as authentic as this one. It is nice to have a place to go and read about things you can relate to and use to make a positive impact on your life. With that said, have you ever considered adding a forum? I’m sure I’m not the only one who would appreciate having a place to go for support and information from fellow peers going through the same thing. Either way, this is a great resource for those who want to learn more about the negative effects amphetamines can have on one’s life and what can be done to stop it.

    Also, I noticed you don’t run any advertisements or anything on your site. This maintains the integrity of your site by showing the audience that a bunch of articles weren’t thrown together for the sake of making a few dollars. However, have you ever considered embedding affiliate links in your posts that are relevant? For example, I wanted to buy that IronMan sports watch you discussed and was surprised there wasn’t a link I could click on to purchase it. You can easily become an Amazon affiliate and earn a little money for all of the hard work you do while providing useful products to the target audience (Example: Timex Men’s Ironman 100-Lap FLIX System Watch – http://amzn.com/B00093CZV0/tag=steceltra-20 ).

    Just a thought. I’m sure you may have considered all of this already but maybe you needed an audience member’s push ;-]. Maybe you should create a poll asking the audience if they would like to see a message board? That way you can gauge the demand for it and make sure it’s not just one crazy guy’s idea. If you need help finding a good (or free) message board service, feel free to send an e-mail to the address I entered into the comment form.

    Keep up the great work!


  2. Mike says:

    Glad you’re liking the exercise posts, Tyler! I get worried when I do off-topic stuff sometimes (appeals to existing readers but risks turning off new visitors).

    And congrats on packing on the muscle! It’s funny, I still consider going back on the pills sometimes, but one of the thoughts that stops me is the notion that I’d lose all the muscles I have now. I adore exercise. Now that I have it back in my life I can’t imagine giving it up for anything. I’m sure you relate. 🙂

    Actually, I did have a phpBB forum on here at one point. It got way more spam than actual posts. Really, I don’t know that this site’s traffic — though it keeps going up — is enough to support a whole forum yet.

    Quitting Adderall is a pretty niche topic. And even though this site is number one in that niche (in terms of search ranking), it’s a pretty small niche.

    That said, the daily traffic is much higher now than it was last time I tried to throw a forum up, so it may be time to try again when I get a moment to focus on it.

    On the ads/affiliate idea: You’re right on the money. Bill Watterson (author of Calvin and Hobbes) once told the story behind why he refused a Calvin and Hobbes merchandising deal (making toys, tv shows, etc). He said despite the truckloads of money they offered him, he felt that the integrity of the strip would suffer if they started merchandising because he’d start wanting to invent catch phrases for Calvin and stuff…and ultimately it would degrade the comic. So he turned down the money and the strip ended as a top-notch beloved classic that never compromised or diluted itself.

    That’s kind of how I feel about putting ads all over this site (as you guessed). I have other sites (on *slightly* lighter topics) that I’m working on that I’ll put ads on. But Quitting Adderall is too personal, too focused. I don’t want ads to cheapen its seriousness.

    Plus, even if I did put ads on (I haven’t ruled it out entirely and it gets more tempting as traffic goes up), I would need to be really selective about the ads. I can’t have ads popping up for “Order Adderall overseas!”, so Google Ads are out, and I haven’t found a good ad supplier that lets me pick and choose the ads.

    So really, I’ve leaned heavily towards the idea you suggested: Signing up for a bunch of affiliate accounts like on Amazon to use whenever I mention a product or a book or something. I kept going back to that idea but was never sure whether it would be worth implementing or not. But I think you’ve just convinced me! 😀

    Now, Tyler, you’re responsible for what comes next. If I start being an affiliate link whore, you have to tell me and knock me back in line lol.

  3. ashley says:

    mike, you are amazing, the more i look at this site, the better it gets.. i remember how good i used to feel before i started taking adderall, when i would work out like crazy..my body was rock hard..with adderall id still work out, but by the time i got 5 minutes into it my heart would be beating through my chest at like 180 bpm..now i just gott aget myself off this computer and outside..cant wait till the baby is here so i can get back to real workouts

  4. Mike says:

    Thanks Ashley! Working out is far and above the absolute best part about quitting Adderall. It’s so much fun.

  5. luke says:

    I’m taking adderrall now. I started it after resisting till 6 month s agri at the age kf 31, I decided that all my attempts at behavior modification and success strategies just didn’t produce the results I ways strived for. There aressome drawbacks I have noticed. The greatest if which ks being too focused on tasks that made not always the best use of my time, but iveramk, I am happy. I just started an exercise program and was doing some research on adderrall’s effect on it. Although I have not exercised till now, I feel like it’s possible to do so and I’m looking forward to improving my fitness. Is there something I am not realizing about the medications effects though?
    One thing that is a big challenge for me is to resist the urge to act as a workaholic. I have actually begin acting upon all my internal ambition, but I am slowly realizing that I need to enforce limits on myself, otherwise I can push to hard, stay up till 4AM and have reduced productivity the following day. Perhaps I should lower the dose 😉

  6. Sile says:

    Great post — I quit about 3 months ago after having a wake up call that perhaps, just perhaps taking 100+ mg a day wasn’t the best life decision and that just maybe, it was a sign of abuse…put simply, it had started to ruin/run my life and you’re right — the urge to engage in physical activity has never been so prevalent in my life! Having always considered those people who run to be crazy exercise buffs (you know, those people who actually RUN on the treadmill and for 30 minutes, no less), I started to crave something more than yoga. Well, now, I can barely go a day without it and for the first time in my life, can happily run without feeling embarrassed and inadequate. I’m still a newbie so I’ve signed up for a 5K and constantly have to remind myself to take it slow. Unfortunately, the weight gain from eating normally and sleeping well takes a toll on me as I will admit that I loved my thinner physique and although I recognize that it is unhealthy, I am trying to take steps towards focusing on fitness rather than the number on the scale. I made a vow not to step on that goddamn thing for a month and you’re right about avoiding mirrors — it’s a good idea!

    On a lighter note, so happy I stumbled upon this website! Will be sure to share my insights achieved after quitting!

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  8. 腕時計の後に(サファイア展の窓を通して)より完全なビューへの骨格化と装飾を処理します。私の考えでは非常に高級で上品な、ティソの最高の彫刻の線の部分の1つである。それはあなたが気にしない手巻き腕時計なら毎日でも着用者として適している。ルイ・ヴィトンコピー 私に明らかでありません、クロコダイルストラップがどのケースに合った1つのものである。若干のイメージに近い突起の間に座るより伝統的なまっすぐな端は、ケースに触れることはないのですが。他の画像において、それはケースの形状に適合するようにぴったりのストラップを使用しています。私はちょうど知りませんが、実際に使用されています。 http://www.newkakaku.com/gb11.htm

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