Five Reps With... Matt Chisholm
Matt Chisholm is one half of the Bible Brodown team. Matt lives with his wife and kids in Texas. He works for a management service organization in the medical world.
How did you get started with health and fitness?
Earlier in my life, I was very active and athletic. After starting a family and career, I had less time and energy to give to fitness, and I started to get out of shape. At a certain point a while back, I had disc problems in my back, two torn shoulders, a general lack of energy, and to top it off I found out I had testicular cancer. The cancer turned out to be a quick surgery and done (no signs of spread, thank God), but for a couple weeks it really put things in perspective for me.
I didn’t want to continue hurting and being sick and even though cancer is something you can’t plan for, my other aches and pains could be contributed to a lack of care on my part for my body. I have young kids, and I want to see them grow up with my wife. I have a passion for God, and I want to be useful in whatever way I can, including in potential physically strenuous ways.
What does your exercise routine look like? How has it changed over the years?
My fitness routine is two-fold. First is the weight management. Through intermittent fasting and calorie counting, I have dropped from nearly 200 lbs down into the 160s. It was important for me to learn how to control my weight before jumping into any kind of exercise commitment to myself. Now that I am down to my target weight, I have added in step counting, and because I have little kids my steps literally come from me jogging in place a lot of the time. I feel goofy doing it, but it keeps my heart-rate in the 130s, so it is harder than just walking around the block!
For muscle toning/building, I have a very scientific approach: work out what isn’t sore. Yep, no charts or lists or specified routines. I literally sit at my desk in the morning, drink my coffee, and think about what muscle groups I feel have been neglected, and which need a break. Then, through a mixture dumbbells and exercise bands, I work the appropriate area. According to my wife, the results are noticeable, so I am a happy camper.
What is your favorite way to exercise outside of the gym?
Gyms…yuck. I have done the gym thing, and that is time and money I will never get back. While I was a member of a gym, I learned something very important about myself that I bet a lot of people can relate to: if whatever routine I choose to pursue isn’t convenient with my current life, there is a high probability that I won’t stick with it. That is one reason intermittent fasting and calorie counting worked so well. No real meal prep, just a couple of apps to track what I need.
Anyway, I work from home. Also, I enjoy being home. It was/is important that I have a way to work out here, and since I am here all day, I keep my weights and bands beside my desk. Just today, I managed to get a good pump in my triceps and chest while I was listening to a conference call. Whenever I need to set something down I can, and whenever there is a dip in the work action, I can start back up. The whole process has become highly integrated into my day.
How do you incorporate healthy eating and exercise into your life?
Keep track! There are apps upon apps that track eating habits, and as much as you may like to keep track in your head, over time you are probably padding the numbers. Data doesn’t lie, and having it look you back in the face and show you that your supposed 1900 calorie day was more like 2400 is important.
If someone is just calorie counting, it comes down to portion control. Thankfully, it isn’t as complicated as something like Keto. Whatever my wife makes for dinner, I can have. If I know it will be a heavier dinner, I may get more steps or have a lighter lunch to make sure I have enough calories available. I more or less base my cardio around this, in fact. If I have a busy work day, and my fast stretches into the early afternoon, and then I have a small lunch, you can bet that I won’t hop up and try to get 10,000 steps before dinner. I will probably have a good 1,300 calories, which is enough to fill me up on almost any food.
How do you balance stewarding your health with your real life commitments?
This issue is a big reason for me needing to find a way to be fit that is integrated into how my life is, versus altering my life to try and fit an extra hour or two of activity on top of everything else. Call it the lazy man’s (or woman’s) fitness. By weaving it into the down time I had throughout my day, I have managed to keep physical fitness from being an extra burden that I, my wife, and my kids have to deal with.
The only thing my kids realize is that dad now has abs. Not going to lie, I walk around with my shirt off more just to hear them point it out.
If you could make one unhealthy food healthy, what would it be?
Pizza…or chocolate…maybe cinnamon rolls…donuts…Lord, please make Jiff Creamy Peanut Butter zero calories! Ha! I love food. All the foods. I live in the South, so I should probably say butter. I can’t pick just one. I love junk food, and I have a sweet tooth. Bread maybe? Sandwiches would instantly become my every meal option!
What is your favorite exercise? Least favorite?
I recently discovered the awesomeness of yoga bands, specifically the heavy black one from Whatafit (came in a set of big exercise bands I got). I can work several muscle groups from my office chair, and it is small enough that I just lay it off to the side on my desk. Any exercise that involves that little band is my favorite. Least favorite is probably squats. In the moment they feel good. Two days later I feel like I am a hobbled, old man.
What is one simple tip you would give to someone looking to get started with stewarding their body better?
Start simple! Don’t commit to Keto, a gym membership, running every day, tracking macros, buying shakes for pre and post workout, etc just right off the bat. If you are in a family, all of that isn’t just a commitment from you. If you are single, that is still a lot to try to take on at one time.
People function well with routine. My personal advice is to start with intermittent fasting. You aren’t adding anything to your day. You are actually freeing up time in the morning! On top of it being a net gain on time, there is a real sense of accomplishment when you hit the end of a 16 hour fast. Do this for a month before you decide to add something else, and then only add one thing. Figure out how to integrate each new thing into your life in a way that makes sense.
How has eating well and exercising helped you better perform the tasks you are called to?
Energy level is the main gain for me. I am not as tired as I was, so I am less irritable. I know what my body does and does not respond to because I have been tracking it so closely. I know how much sleep I get, and what I will probably feel like in the morning, and I know which food and drinks to avoid in the evenings to make sure that night’s sleep is efficient.
When it comes to eating and exercising, where are you vulnerable to poor stewardship? What steps do you take to safeguard against it?
My exercise weakness is just laziness. I have partially overcome that through reasons explained above. The other part of this is just mental discipline. I have no excuse for not reaching out, picking up a band, and doing a quick few sets on this one muscle group while I am listening to someone go through a power point presentation.
For eating, midnight snacks. Managing to not eat anything after dinner was hard to get over. If you are like me, then you may have dinner around 7pm, but by 10pm you want second dinner. Committing to fasting helped me with this. My wife knew my goals, which was extremely helpful as well, so she knows not to offer me something delicious once I have started my fast.
What challenges do you face that make it difficult to consistently steward your body?
Laziness. Apathy. The desire to just not do anything. Sometimes I would rather just sit and watch a movie with my kids or play a video game. It turns out that I can still do those things, but jog in place behind the couch. I can still spend time with my family, but occasionally drop to the floor and knock out a quick set of pushups, which are extra difficult when the baby and puppy both attack you as you do it.
Just to beat the drum one last time, it all goes back to simplicity and integrating exercise and fitness into my life instead of trying to turn my life upside down to accommodate the traditional way of being in shape.