It has to be.
Why? Because, even though this guide can be boiled down to five bullet points, there's a lot to talk about, like types of workouts, nutrition and supplementation, and so on. But, I don't believe in wasting peoples' time, so I'll go ahead and give away the ending. Here's the points I'll be making in this article:
- You will not work out regularly and eat right until you care enough about yourself to take care of yourself. There are no shortcuts.
- To lose fat, you must burn more calories than you consume every single day.
- Although cardiovascular exercise (running, jogging, walking, skipping, the StairMaster, and others) are great ways to burn calories one day at a time, building muscle is the only way to raise your metabolism permanently. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn 24/7.
- To build muscle, you must destroy and then rebuild muscle.
- Working out is not just for muscleheads and jocks. It's a special, devoted block of time each day for you to focus solely on yourself. You are worth it.
That's it. That's actually all you need to know to start working out right now. But I know there's a LOT of stuff you, as a beginner (or even a casual athlete) might like to know about this entire process. And that's my goal - to answer as many questions as honestly and thoroughly as possible, so that you understand the process of working out and how to best achieve your goals.
So to start, I'm going to ask you to pick your goal. Right now, sitting here reading this, choose a goal you'd like to achieve physically. A popular one is "I'd like to lose weight." Another is "I'd like to get strong." Some people pick an event as a goal, such as a marathon, a triathlon, a Light The Night walk. In any event, the goal you choose is paramount. It indicates the direction you'd like to take.
So now, you've chosen your goal. Don't worry, I don't plan to write guides for every contingency that might arise from your goal-choosing, as I've never run a marathon and have no intentions of ever doing so (at least, in the foreseeable future). But that's not what the goal-choosing process was all about. The sole purpose of asking you to choose a goal is to ask one fundamental question:
Why haven't you done it yet?
My guess: Because you haven't made any time for yourself to do it.
You work 50 hours a week. You know you should probably work out for 30 minutes a day, or at the very least, take a nightly walk around the neighborhood... But you just can't find the time. Fast food and restaurants make eating a more efficient process, and with the kids' soccer practice and work piling up, it's just so hard to eat right and find time for the gym... Especially since you don't know much about how gyms work. And even if you did, you can't afford one...
And that's okay. That's not a bad thing, you're doing what you need to do to make it through your daily life. But you need to realize something. And it's very uncomfortable to admit this to yourself (TRUST ME, I know)... But it's true:
You don't want to lose weight. You don't want to get stronger. You don't want to change.
"But Joe!" You're mentally screaming. "Of COURSE I do! I'm overweight! No one wants to be overweight!"
I didn't say you want to be overweight. I said "You don't want to lose weight."
"Joe, I'm barely 120 lbs, and all my life I've been called scrawny! I don't want to be scrawny."
I didn't say you want to be scrawny. I said "You don't want to get stronger."
It's simple. We humans want. In fact, desire is really the only thing we actually do on this planet, if you think about it. We want love, we want money, we want a nice car, we want a nice house... And occasionally, we take it upon ourselves to actually go and acquire the things we want. Some of us are lazier than others, and take what come to us... But for the most part, I believe that every person on this planet has, at some point or another, REALLY wanted something - and then went out and got it. A promotion at work, or a nice watch, or perhaps a date from a really cute girl or boy.
At some point in your life, you've wanted something so badly, you went and got it. So, if you really, really wanted to lose weight or get stronger, you'd do it.
This is not an insult. It's just the truth. And I know, because I went through it myself. (To save you from having to skip over a huge block of text, I'll link you to the obligatory self-case-study so you can just skip over one link.) The truth is, saying you want something isn't the same as actually wanting it. When you actually DO want something, you make it happen. And in order to make it happen, you go through phases of acquisition, each phase leading to the next, until you finally have what it is you want.
It is my theory that you don't actually want to change your life because you don't know how to actually change it. You compare where you are now with where you want to be, decide the difference is too great, and give up before you even start. You can't see the forest for the trees, so to speak... You have probably seen incredibly fit people, and wonder how it is that they became so incredibly fit... And then you begin imagining horrible tortures visited upon your person by gigantic clanging machines over a period of months and years, causing you to sweat and feel pain and oh my god, isn't Xbox so much more fun? Besides, "Who Wants To Make A Deal Or No Deal - Extreme Makeover Edition" is on. And I just opened this carton of ice cream.
So, I hope to remove that barrier. I hope to give you all sorts of information that is beneficial to your quest to lose weight or get in shape or bulk up. I hope to share with you all of the intel that I've gathered for myself (and discussed with trainers and other former unhealthy folks). I hope to obliterate myths, shatter misconceptions, and guide you to a place where you can actually see each step in the process as it leads up to the next... Finally bringing you to the light at the end of the tunnel.
But, at the end of it all, you're the one who's going to have to get up out of your chair, put the laptop down (or turn off this computer), walk out the front door, and make it happen for yourself. Every day. From now on.
I can't want it for you. You have to want it for yourself.
So, you want it... What do you do now?
Well, the first step is understanding the different kinds of training there are. Now, this list is huge - there's a ton of different specific training types, such as endurance, flexibility, long-range cardio, short-range burst cardio, blah blah blah. But because you're starting out, you're really going to be focusing on two main types: strength training and cardiovascular training.
With strength training, the goal is exactly that - to gain strength. Now, the first thing that pops into your head when you think about this is the concept of "bulking up" - gaining huge amounts of muscle. And while this is definitely a form of strength training, it's not the only form. There's training for power (short bursts of incredible effort to lift increasing amounts of weight), endurance (lifting a lighter amount of weight repeatedly for longer duration to increase long-term muscle strength), bulking (pure muscle destruction / reconstruction), and other forms. The goal - to make each muscle in your body as strong as it can be.
With cardiovascular training, the focus shifts from all of the muscles in your arms, legs, back, neck, shoulders and other places, to the one in your chest - your heart. You want to make this muscle stronger, so your body will process oxygen more efficiently and you can exert more effort for longer periods of time. There are lots of ways to train the cardiovascular system - running, jogging, walking, climbing stairs, sprints... But these are just forms of two types of training - interval and endurance. Interval cardio means bringing the heart rate up for a period of time, then resting, allowing it to settle, only to bring it back up again. This form of cardio burns a tremendous amount of calories in a short period of time. Endurance cardio focuses on being able to go at a steady pace for longer periods of time, keeping the heartrate constantly elevated. This also burns calories, however, there are some important notes on how this works that I'll cover later.
(To go ahead and get it out of the way, the absolute best way to remove fat from your body is to combine strength training with cardiovascular training. It seems like common sense... But the truth is, it is EXTREMELY easy to convince yourself each day that you've done enough after a great strength training session, or a three mile run, because both are a lot of work. But they're two individual pieces of a puzzle that, when combined, form a full picture otherwise invisible to you.)
About strength training:
The point of strength training is to literally destroy your muscle so that it will rebuild itself. That's how you build more muscle. It sounds horrible, right? Well, it's not that bad. It's just something you should understand going into the process - at the very least, it explains why you're sore when you start working out. Each time you perform an exercise, you are tearing muscle fibers. It's at a near-molecular level, which is why you don't feel like your arm has just torn off when you do it... But it's happening. As the body repairs the torn fibers, it uses synthesized protein that you've ingested to perform the repairs. Just like scar tissue on your skin, the area is locked and patched up with available material, forming a stronger and somewhat larger patch of muscle fiber.
Wash, rinse, repeat. The result - bigger, stronger muscles.
Now, there are three types of muscle in your body: Cardiac (which we cover in Cardiovascular training), smooth (which we probably won't go into, as it pertains to organs and blood vessels), and Skeletal (the good stuff). Strength training, as it pertains to working out, focuses almost exclusively on skeletal muscle tissue - biceps, triceps, pectorals, glutius maximus... All of these are skeletal muscles.
Inside the group of skeletal muscles, there are two types that are commonly referred to as fast twitch and slow twitch. As you can infer from the names, slow-twitch muscles are more related to endurance, whereas Fast Twitch muscles pertain more to power and speed. As such, training for strength breaks down to primarily two types of training: endurance (building and conditioning the slow twitch fibers) and power (buidling and conditioning the fast twitch fibers).
Now, I'll go ahead and tell you that, regardless of which focus you choose, you'll be working out both sets of muscle. You pretty much have no choice - when you focus on slow twitch fibers, you'll be using fast-twitch to lift the bar off the ground, or push the weight off the holds. Conversely, when you focus on fast-twitch training, you'll use slow-twitch muscles for stability in your arms and shoulders while on the bench press, or for standing upright between repititions on a squat machine.
As such, the best overall decision is to dedicate time to both groups each week. We'll go over this in more detail later, for now, the important thing to know is that you'll have a choice when you work out as to which area you want to focus on, and how "big" and / or how "toned" you wish to be when you work out.
About cardiovascular training:
Cardio is all about getting the heart pumping. Any sort of moment done with sufficient effort over a period of time is going to increase your heart rate. Increased heart rate directly relates to calories burned. And, as mentioned earlier, if you burn more calories than you consume, you lose fat. Pretty easy, right? Well, there's no "gotcha" here - it is. It's so simple, humans have been doing it since the species crawled out of the muck and began chasing potential food with sharpened sticks.
As mentioned before, when you engage in interval training, you're getting your heart rate to "spike" repeatedly - bringing it to an elevated state for some time, then letting it rest. One of the easiest forms of exercise to do this are "sprints" - starting at a designated point, running a set distance, and stopping, only to do it again. This form of cardio training is one of the best for losing weight, as it really forces caloric burn and, provided you're doing something that creates resistance (such as sprints, or fast push-ups), also creates strength due to resistance training.
The other form, endurance cardio, is generally what you think of when you think of running a few miles, or swimming a bunch of laps, or riding a bike for a while. Your heart rate is elevated, and then maintained at that elevated rate for a while. This burns calories as well - however, the type of caloric burn is different, due to the fact that the body "flips a switch" between regular energy consumption and the type of energy consumption that takes place when it's in a state of prolonged movement. In short, you burn more calories than you would sitting down, but your body regulates how many and how quickly. It knows it's going to be doing this a while, so it tends to conserve energy (versus interval training,where it just squirts out whatever it has right away to get you through each "spike").
Actually working out
So, let me start with a little bit of mental coaching:
1) You're not in shape. That's vital to come to terms with, because your first, oh... Week or so of training? It's not going to be fun. It's going to be uncomfortable and exhausting. And that's because you are out of shape. But - and this is the good part - the more you train, the more in shape you get, and the more in shape you get, the more fun it becomes.
Now, I know exactly what you're thinking - how the hell is it ever going to be fun? Well... What would you say that, in a few months time, there'll come a point where, if you miss even a single workout, you'll feel crappy because of it? You'll hate not being in training; you'll actually crave getting into the gym every day that you go? That you'll feel sick less often, breathe easier, need to carve new notches into your belt as your waist line gets smaller...
Yeah. You'll probably say I'm a liar. In fact, you'll probably say that for the first month and a half... But I promise you, it's true. Again, you'll just have to trust that I know this one.
Also, you may feel self conscious if you are starting your workouts for the first time at a gym or in a public place... I cannot tell you how much you shouldn't care about the thoughts of others. But you will anyway, so here's my advice: Just know that most everyone in that gym or at that park is mentally applauding you for getting out and doing something great with your body. Seriously. Sure, you'll run across the occasional dickhead who's going to whisper and say something, but honestly, those guys and girls are going to point and laugh no matter WHAT you look like. If you're stacked with muscle, they're going to call you musclehead; if you're skinny and fit, they're going to make fun of your shoes. You cannot stop them. Don't worry about them... Just let them live their shallow, miserable lives while you strengthen and empower your own.
Remember - people too weak to achieve their own goals in life will always discourage others from achieving theirs. Or, more simply... Fuck. Them. By far, the majority of people who see you at the gym are going to be proud that you're there.
2) Expect resistance from the exercises. In fact, embrace it. Weights are heavy. You'll find yourself cursing this fact. You'll be tempted to move the pin up a few notches to make the weight lighter. You'll find yourself wanting to put the bar on the rack before you've reached your set number of repetitions. You'll curse the weight for being so damn heavy.
Well, think about it this way - if it weren't heavy, it wouldn't be making you as strong as it is. That weight is not your enemy, and it's not working against you... It is your friend. To paraphrase a sentiment from Henry Rollins in a piece he wrote called "The Iron" - the weight is working WITH you to make you stronger. That one thought fundamentally changed the way I looked at working out. Every single time I touched a weight from that point forward, I did so with that one thought in mind - every ounce in that bar is making me that much stronger.
So, on to the workouts:
Overall, the program I advocate is a combination of strength training and cardio training, at least five days a week.
Yes, five days a week. It sounds like a lot... But this is not about making an effort to change your life, then accidentally letting a 2 day break become a 3 day break, which becomes a 7 day break, which becomes "Ok, I'll start over next week..."
You need to change your life. Remeber, you WANT this. So... Five days a week. One day breaks AT MOST. Try to never, ever go more than two days without a workout. Even if that workout is a quick jog somewhere, or fifteen minutes of pushups and squats... Do something every single day.
Now, about that "something" - when you start out, my advice is to start with three "groups" of strength exercies, then 20 minutes of cardio (walking or stationary bike to start), for the first two weeks. Five days a week, remember.
The "groups" of exercises relates to the types of lifting and exercising you are going to do. In short, you want to divide your muscle groups into individual days of the week. And you want to group your exercises so that all of the lifts you do relate to the same muscle groups (if you'd like some ideas, here's a list of exercises with descriptions I did during my first football training excursion).
- On Monday, you will do a "back and biceps" routine - why back and biceps? Because, as you do exercises that focus on your back, you will do a lot of pulling type exercises, which also includes your biceps (this is called a "complex exercise" - something that incorporates multiple muscles). So, you will also want to focus on your biceps that day, since you're already working on them, right? Finish that with a 20 minute walk.
- So now, you've done your back and biceps - they need a rest. So Tuesday, you might do a "chest and triceps" routine. You group these together for the same reason you put back and biceps together - because as you work your chest (with a bench press, for instance), you will also work your triceps. So it makes sense to do a set of tricep-specific exercises on that day as well. Finish with a 20 minute pedal on the stationary bike.
- Wednesday, you do legs and shoudlers - now, this seems like an odd grouping, and that's because it sort-of is. I do this because the legs and the shoulders have absolutely nothing to do with any of the other exercises I've done in my back-bicep or chest-tricep routines (well, the legs part does cross a bit with the back, but not much... And shoulders can sometimes use triceps, but again, not as much as chest). Finish with a 20 minute walk.
- Thursday, you can rest.
- Friday, you can change things up a bit - take an aerobics class, or do a full round of pushup-situp-pullup-squats, for thirty minutes straight, resting a minute between each exercise. Finish this with a 20 minute bike pedal.
- Saturday, you can focus on a long cardio session - 40 minutes of walking or stationary bike or stairmaster. Set the pace to be a bit lower than you did in your 20 minute walks, put on your headphones, and enjoy the feeling of your heart beating in your chest.
- Sunday, rest.
- Monday, it starts all over.
Now, after about two weeks of this, you'll want to take a step foward in your intensity. You will want to increase the weight on all of your exercises by, say, five pounds. Or, increase the number of repetitions per set from 10 to 12. Increase your walks to 25 minutes, or change them to 15 minute runs.
Two weeks after that, you will want to increase the number of exercise "groups" you do to four, adding a new "complex exercise" (for instance, "incline bench press") and a new "simple exercise" (for instance, "dumbbell tricep extension") on each day. Increase the time of your cardio from 25 minutes to 30 minutes if you're walking, or step it up to a 20 minute run if you switched to running.
Now, as for "sets" and "reps" - you've probably heard at some point someone say something like "three sets of ten" in regards to lifting weights or working out. Basically, this means that you are going to do an exercise ten times, stop and rest, and then do it 10 more times, and then 10 more times after that. It is your choice if you want to increase or decrease the amount of weight you are lifting during this exercise. Also, you can do "pyramid" sets, where you start with, say, 15 repetitions, then on the next set, you do 12 with a little more weight, then 10 with a little bit more - just like the number of bricks in a pyramid. You can do five sets of 20 repetitions with a lower amount of weight... There are no hard and fast rules as to how you work out. It all depends on what you want to improve.
If you want to improve on "power" (which will increase muscle bulk) - focus on doing fewer repetitions of more weight across more sets. For example, five sets of 8 repetitions of 185lbs on bench press. If you want to increase "endurance" in your muscles (which will increase muscle tone), focus on doing a higher number of repetitions of lower weight across fewer sets. For example, three sets of 20 repetitions of 145lbs on bench press. (These weights are not suggestions, they're simply illustrations of the differences in weight you might want to lift to achieve goals).
As I stated before, regardless of the type of focus you choose, you're going to end up improving both types of strength - it's just the ratio of which one you dedicate more training to that's important.
As you go on, you will want to mix up your workouts - perhaps put chest and bicep day together, so you're working three sets of muscles (pectoral, triceps, biceps) instead of just two. Or, use dumbbells instead of a flat bench or machine to do your exercises. Variety is not only the spice of life, it also keeps your body from getting used to a type of workout - which maximizes the benefit.
A word about safety: There are some general rules you'll want to follow for each exercise, and I've outlined them in the exercise descriptions below. But the big, monster, huge rule that applies to every single exercise you will ever do:
Don't bite off more than you can chew.
It is far better to start with a weight that might be a little light, and at the end of your set, tack on a few extra repetitions to make up for the lack of weight. You don't want to hurt yourself. Don't let pride or ego get in the way of good old fashioned common sense - even if they're pretending to at the moment, NO ONE CARES how much you can or cannot lift. Seriously, when they go home, they don't think about your exercises. So do them for your own benefit, not anyone else's.
Diet and Nutrition
If cardio and strength training are two pieces of a fitness puzzle, diet is the table that you're putting them together on.
You may have heard this before, but one pound of fat equals roughly 3,500 calories (howstuffworks.com has an EXCELLENT tutorial on how all of this works, and rather than repeat it and bore you here, I recommend you check it out). Now, your body burns a certain number of calories each day during the course of simply keeping you alive - this is called your base metabolic rate (your metabolism, folks). To find out what yours is, check out this BMR calculator. The base metabolic rate is affected by a) how much activity you do during your day and b) how much muscle in your body needs to be fueled - hence the earlier point that more muscle = higher metabolism (NOTE: This is NOT your BMI (Body Mass Index). I'm no medical professional, but basically, every single educated person I've ever talked to or read says that the BMI is a load of horseshit).
To lose fat, basically you need to ingest fewer calories than you burn through both your BMR and your physical activity.
Simple, right? Right.
For example, my BMR is 2739. My level of activity each week is a 4, or "heavy sports 6-7 days a week". So, using the Harris Benedict Equation, I determine that my body needs 4724.775 calories each day to maintain a weight of 310 lbs.
Now, I ingest about 3000 calories a day, mostly from protein. My body uses that protein to build muscle, while it burns off fat - this is how I've been able to go from 308lbs in December of 2007 to 310lbs in June of 2008, while losing nearly 10% of my body fat.
A quick note - DO NOT go starving yourself to cut calories. YOU NEED CALORIES TO LIVE. A good guide is to basically establish a goal of weight loss each week - 2 - 3 lbs a week is an aggressive, but healthy, number - and cut that many calories BELOW YOUR BMR out of your weekly intake. 2 pounds = 7000 calories; 3 pounds = 12,500 calories. Alternatively, you can ramp up your exercising to burn that many calories per week... But to burn 1000 calories a day for 7 days straight is a lot of running. The best bet - combine the two.
And that brings me to sports nutrition:
It is imperative that you eat protein. And I mean IMPERATIVE. Carbohydrates are your fuel for energy, but protein is the stuff that rebuilds your muscles as you rip them apart with exercise. Imagine that your muscles are big concrete struts, and each day, they're chipped and they need to be replastered with new material. Protein is that material.
The guiding principle is that you need half an ounce of protein for each pound of body weight you have in order to gain muscle. Now, you vegetarians out there, this may not be very popular with you, but it's the hard and fast truth - you need whey and animal based proteins if you expect them to do any good. Soy-based proteins are estrogen simulators - they actually promote estrogen production, which is what causes breasts and other fat storage collection in both men and women. Animal and whey-based proteins promote testosterone production, which synthesizes protein into muscle.
So basically, you gotta eat meat and take your whey protein if you want muscle, and stay away from the soy milk if you don't want boobs.
For me, the only guiding principle for my food each day is that it a) contains at least 150 grams of protein and b) contains less than 3000 calories a day - but no less than 2999.
Guess what happens when you do that?
Goodbye Coke. Goodbye candy. Goodbye cake, ice cream, snacks, french fries, and just about everything in your life that makes you a gooey blob. It's not magic; it's not a special diet you read about in magazines or the big fad going around the office. It's just simple - keep your proteins high, and your calories below your expended calories for the day (BMR + exercise), and boom - you're going to gain muscle and lose fat.
The beauty is that it's actually very instinctive. If, at each meal, you ask yourself what's the highest amount of protein I can get with the lowest caloric intake, you're going to immediately eliminate all the high-fat, pure carbohydrate stuff. That leaves healthy stuff, like complex carbohydrates (fruits, veggies - anything with fiber) and protein.
It'll all sort itself out.
And here's a quick tip - do what I did, and cut out ANYTHING with corn syrup in it. Corn syrup is just plain disgusting. It's sugar, but it doesn't trip the "I've had something to eat, so now I'm happy" switch in your body. In fact, some studies suggest corn syrup actually BLOCKS this switch, so you eat more.
Ick. Just get rid of it.
As far as eating for your workout - I eat a Powerbar or some form of decent protein+carbohydrate nutrition bar about 30 minutes before my workout. I drink roughly a gallon (yep, a milk jug) of water from the point I eat my Powerbar until the point I finish my workout. I take my vitamins and supplements (discussed below) with my Powerbar before my workout (the particular supplement I use has a bit of an energy boost, so I make use of that for my workout).
I take in about 50 grams of protein RIGHT after my workout - it's called the "golden ten", the ten or so minutes after your workout are the perfect time to take protein shakes and other types of nutrition, as it metabolizes quickly and burns out the calories quickly, due to the still-elevated heartrate and bloodflow. I recommend RTD 51 OR GNC's 50-gram-slam for protein shakes, as they have an extremely low calorie and fat count compared to the protein count.
Oh, man, I could write an entire book on this. But I'm going to try to boil this WAY down: 99% of what you find in your local GNC is practically useless.
The stuff that works? Well, everyone has their own particular "stack" of supplements that they swear by. For me, it's one that I've seen work on seven seperate people at my gym now, including myself:
Creatin / Glutamine / Testosterone (Zinc + Magnesium) / Protein
A simple breakdown: Creatine is a cell volumizer. It causes the cells in your muscle tissue to hold more - more oxygen, more glycogen, more protein. A lot of guys use JUST creatine, and they will see their size grow due to the increase in size in their cells. The downfall - the second they come off of just creatine, the size decreases, and they get weaker and smaller as a result.
So, in order to keep that from happening, you want to fill those increased cells with good things like Glutamine (a long-burning sugar in your muscles, which allows you to go faster, longer) and protein.
Now, just taking glutamine along with your creatine will help fill the cell with that good, good stuff. But the protein... Well, that takes some work. If you look at your body like a construction site, with your muscles as the building, creatine is going to clear out more space for you to build. Protein is the concrete that you can build with. But without something to place that concrete, you're just going to pour it any old place it'll fit, and the clean-up crew is just going to get rid of it at night. So, you need a crane - testosterone - to make efficient use of that protein. And that's where the Zinc + Magnesium come into play - both are proven to increase healthy testosterone production (which is how you manage the increased protein intake).
I won't be recommending products here. I will tell you what I take, which is Myogenesis Muscle Stack (because it puts everything into one blister pack, making it easy to take in the morning), but you need to do your research and figure out what works best for you.
Keeping it up
Something that really helped me stay motivated to go to the gym: There's an anecdote about Jerry Seinfield that talks about his method of maintaining productivity, and it worked well for me. Essentially, buy yourself a calendar and a red Sharpie. Mark each day you work out with the red sharpie. See how many days you can go in a row keeping that chain going, and whatever you do, DO NOT BREAK THE CHAIN.
Seriously, it works.
If you find that you've been working out for a few weeks and nothing's really moving, you may be secretly sabotaging yourself. The best way to figure this one out - keep a food journal. Write down EVERY SINGLE THING you put in your mouth, including gum and water. EVERYTHING. Then, each night, use a free diet diary or nutrition calculator to figure out the calories you took in that day (I used FitDay for years, now I use a pay service called CalorieKing - both are terrific, and they both track exercise as well as diet - but CK is a bit more robust, hence the "paid" part).
So now what?
Well, that part's up to you. You know a tremendous amount more now than you did before, so any thoughts you have on the subject are, at the very least, more informed. Hopefully, they're also more empowered. I hope that you see some hope in this guide - I hope you have read everything I've had to say and see that YOU can do this. I hope it's caused you to realize that something is better than nothing, when it comes to exercise, at least. And that there is a very real chance that "something" could lead to something much more than just going to a gym for 30 minutes or running around your block.
It can lead to a longer, healthier life. It can lead to more self confidence. It can lead to a self awareness far more pure than any you're likely to achieve just sitting and pondering on your own thoughts. And more than anything, it can lead to a pretty powerful concept - that you are worth spending an hour on, with no interruptions from anyone else, each and every day.
It's your life. Take control of it. Give yourself some time just for yourself... Because no one else can do it for you, and you DO deserve it.