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The gym diaries 4. Photo by Kyle Phanroy

Despite making some noticeable gains in his path to fitness, over the past month staff writer Owen Salisbury has found himself struggling to fulfill his goal of having ‘muscles like beach balls’


It’s been a month of frustration. After my optimism of last month, my pride over having measurable gains, I’m feeling stuck. My major goal this month was nutrition, yet for a multitude of reasons, I’m just now getting to it.


It’s not Daniele’s fault. It’s not even entirely my fault. Scheduling conflicts play havoc with our training schedule, and though I’m able to make up a couple days on my own, it’s not the same.


Regardless, if your trainer is unavailable, get to the gym anyway. Your workout may not be as good, but simply maintaining the habit is important — as is getting used to running one’s own fitness programme. That should be an eventual goal for everyone; taking your fitness into your own hands has a number of direct and indirect benefits.

The gym diaries 4. Photo by Kyle Phanroy 

Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back


Most frustratingly, I got sick again. After a couple months of good health, the worst-timed stomach flu of my life floored me for just under two days. As I write this, I feel a chest infection crowding in. Just as I stopped living on soup, I start coughing it up.


My weight is creeping back up, too. Dan assures me this is normal — so if your weight fluctuates, don’t freak out and go into a panic diet... or worse, start stress eating. Keep going with your plan. Some of that weight will be muscle you’ve put on. If your start gaining fat back long-term, then by all means reassess matters.


But I’ve run into an inescapable truth; one can only advance so far without getting your diet on lockdown. Eating well can also save you money in the long run, but making that jump is tricky for most people. It requires time and advanced planning, both of which are in short supply for me. It also takes discipline, the discipline to make deep, lasting changes.

The gym diaries 4. Photo by Kyle Phanroy 

Making Dietary Habits Permanent


These changes are difficult, but if you want to be fit you must reform your diet. The sooner you start, the longer you can take, and the more certain it is that these new dietary habits become permanent.


We all know what a good, healthy diet is, right? Lean protein, like chicken breast and fish. Lots of vegetables, particularly ones dark in colour. Complex carbohydrates like brown rice or sweet potatoes that have a low glycaemic index.


Slow, steady intakes of calories are best — no gut-busting meals. Eat a large breakfast and lunch, a modest dinner, and try for minimal-calorie snacks like celery and cucumber at night. Night eating is a major culprit in weight gain.

The gym diaries 4. Photo by Kyle Phanroy 

One Part of the Larger Plan


This doesn’t mean you have to give up everything you like, and thank God. I can still eat cheese. I can still tuck into a rare steak, or enjoy a glass of fine brandy after work. The key is moderation. Scale back. Be mindful of what you put into your body. And remember, slow changes stick. Fast ones blow up in your face — or your waistline.


Really, though, nutrition is only one part. A major one, to be sure, even a crucial one. But a healthy lifestyle is just that; a commitment to a certain way of living, denying oneself short-term pleasures for long-term gains. Remind yourself of this, just as I do... and even when you doubt — just as I do — remember what your goals are. Focus on them. Make them real and they’ll happen.


It just might take longer than you planned. With two months to go in this experiment, I need to get my ass in gear. I’ve spent too much, sweated too much, stressed too much for this to go nowhere.



Owen Salisbury

Owen Salisbury is a fairly typical example of Homo Expatrius. Originally from California, he moved to Vietnam in 2011. He loves to write, take photos, travel, eat well, and learn.