Monday, September 16, 2013

Losing Weight

When I first tell people that I used to be 320 lbs (145.5 kg), the usual reaction is: No way. You couldn't have been that big, you're so small! At 5 foot 8 inches (1.72 meters) I don't really like being called small, call it a Napoleon complex or something, but in general I understand what these people are saying. They have a hard time imagining a person my height weighing that much, and who now weighs quite literally half of that. Usually the next question is: How did you do it?

How did You Do It?

Wow is that a question I sometimes dread. Not because I mind answering it, I'm an open and honest guy. I'll happily tell you what I think about most any subject and I'm not afraid of offending someone. The reason I dread the question is because sometimes it's from someone who wants to use my secret themselves, or who wants to pass it on to the friend/family/coworker. The problem is that there is no secret. They already know the answer, they just may not know how to implement it.

The truth is I busted my ass and changed my entire lifestyle.

I'm not trying to come off like a pompous ass, or to discourage anyone, but in total honesty that's what it took! Try telling that to someone who is looking for help, who wants something, anything to help them change their bodies. Sometimes its fucking heartbreaking. In all honesty that's one of the reasons I started writing this blog. I want to help!

It All Happens Over Time

Now I don't know about you, but I didn't gain weight overnight. I mean it's not like I was sitting there with six pack abs as a teenager, went to college and fucking ballooned up to 320 lbs on pizza and beer as a freshman (though admittedly, the college lifestyle didn't help my situation). It was a gradual process compounding year over year over year. 

So if it takes that long to do the damage to yourself, and to create the body that you don't like, then quite frankly you can't expect any pill or magical formula to take it off that fast. It's a process, it takes time. You know why most diets fail? Unrealistic goals. If you expect to lose 5 lbs (2.2 kgs) a week for the next four weeks, then let me tell you right now you will be sorely disappointed. If anyone promises you these kinds of results (short of life-endangering stomach stapling surgery), just walk the fuck away. Losing weight is easy at its core: Burn more calories than you take in.

So Where Do I Start?

Well what got you here in the first place? What's your motivator? I know what mine was, I remember the exact story when I hit rock bottom, and I know that fueled my initial drive to make changes. If you can't find something to drive you, then you are going to fail. You need that motivator, that story, that memory to keep you going when the going gets tough, because it is going to get tough! It also can not be superficial. If you are doing it for some guy, some girl, because of some ephemeral "Life will be better if..." this is not going to work. Period. End of Story. Find your motivator, stick it on your phone, your mirror, make it your drive.

I've Got My Motivator Now What?

Well I'll give you a hint, your current diet and exercise routine aren't working. So how about we start there! Now remember this is a marathon not a sprint. Don't try to make a bunch of changes at once, because guess what? You will fail. When I first started I began by only starting on the exercise routine. Here's the thing though, I sat on my ass all day. Not totally my fault, I'm a Software Developer, and before that a college student who majored in Computer Science, loved video games, and delivered Pizza to make money. All of those things kind of largely involve being really good at sitting on one's ass for an extended period of time. I am quite exceptional at sitting on my ass, I've had a lot of practice, and I get paid to do it.

So first thing I did was to get off my ass. I joined a gym. I signed a fucking year long contract, and got a years worth or personal training. I didn't have to do it, and quite frankly when I started I didn't even have the money to do it. I went in to debt to do it! That's how powerful my motivator was for me. I was an entrepreneur and I was investing in me, and I was going to give it all I had.

The thing is though, I didn't expect miracles. I'm honestly not really sure what I expected at all. I hated the gym. I loathed cardio, and I had no clue what I was doing. None. I mean I didn't know anything about being physically fit, it had never been a concern before! So in the beginning I used a trick I had picked up when I first hated my job delivering pizza. I used mind tricks. 

Mind Tricks and the Importance of Exercise AND Nutrition

I used to hate going to deliver pizza. I mean it was boring, monotonous, and in the Florida sun, hot, sweaty and generally unpleasant. Top that off with living in a "rough" area, and you can imagine that it was neither lucrative or enjoyable. Calling it a job was not helping, so I began to refer to it as "my hobby". It kind of became a joke between my roommate and myself. But god damn if it didn't work. I started looking at it differently and it became bearable. 

I used that same trick in the gym. I hated going there in the beginning, but I played various mind games with myself and made it into a place I love to go. To this day I love the gym. I love hearing the clanking of iron. I love running on a treadmill for hours (Yes I have run on the treadmill for hours!). If I don't go to the gym for any length of time now, I actually get a really strong longing to go back! That's how powerful this trick is. I could fill posts with various mind tricks (and I probably will, in the future), but needless to say I had to find the tricks that worked for me, and everyone is different.

Convincing myself to go to the gym became easier and easier. It became a joy every day. My Personal Trainer at the time helped me through some of the initial learning curve, and to keep my on track in the beginning, but I soon came in regardless of if I had an appointment or not. I pushed myself, but not too much, after all I didn't want to hurt myself and then not be able to go back that week! 

From there I learned about what worked for my body. What I responded to and I saw weight drop off quickly. Probably because I was no longer JUST sitting on my ass. It was huge ego boost, and then I plateaued. 

That was frustrating. The weight was coming off but not as fast for a while, and then it just stopped coming off. I worked harder, but nothing happened. It was about that time I realized that I had been leaving out the other part of the equation. I was burning a shit ton more calories in the gym, but I was eating like a complete moron.

Ever try to lose weight while drinking two liters of soda a day and eating whatever sweet thing was in front of you at the time? I did. It didn't work out so well. So I made changes. Little ones. Substitute a salad for a meal here, switch out coffee for soda. Making sure that I ate vegetables, the Green Leafy ones! 

You can guess what happened, then weight began to slide off. Each little change made changes to the plateau until all I could think about was how to keep this awesomeness going! I read as much information as I could. I know more about Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers, Paleo, and god knows how many other diets than I should probably know. It's been a fantastic journey.

It took me a Year and Half

That's right a full 18 months. That means I lost a little under 9 lbs a month, or a little over 2 lbs a week. It was not a short path, but the reality is I have kept that weight off for the better part of a decade. I'll be honest, I'm a little up from lightest, but I still weigh less than when I did in high school. I've also had kids since then, and you try and keep up a daily exercise routine, and perfect eating habits with kids, it isn't easy. And that's just it, there is no easy way. It wasn't easy putting it on, you just didn't notice. Trust me if I actively tried to put on 160 lbs, I'm pretty sure it would take me more than a year, and I'd plateau a few times in the process, and I'm a professional Ass Sitter! So next time you feel like you can't do it, and that it's too hard, just remember it's all in your head. It's as hard as you make it to be. And if you need some help or motivation send me a message and I'll try to help as best I can.

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