I get asked some variation of the questions, “What’s the secret?” and, “What did you do to lose weight?” an awful lot.
My answer USED to be:
a) Never eat anything you like.
b) Be hungry all the time.
c) Work your ass off.
d) Once you get the first three down, crank the whole thing up to eleven.
Folks don’t like that answer. Most are looking for some magic bullet. A miracle pill. A particular diet book. That ONE food that has a hidden ingredient that’s making them fat. And so on. Folks don’t want to hear that it boils down to choices, hard work, and simple math.
To be fair…NONE of those are easy…and it took me a long time to come to terms with it myself.
That answer has now modified somewhat…the process is deceptively simple on the surface, but quite complex once you get serious about it.
I should note that overall, folks don’t like the new answer either. There is no miracle pill here.
Let’s get started, shall we?
1) First and foremost, this process is a head game. Elevate yourself, and YOUR health, to the VERY TOP of your “to do” list and keep yourself there. It MUST be Non-negotiable. This is number one on the list as it is simply the most important step. You will not succeed, especially in the long term, without this.
That takes some soul searching to come to terms with. You will also occasionally have to disappoint friends, family, and co-workers. Those that have become used to relying on you do not like to hear, “No.” My advice if they make it known that they don’t like “no”…is to try using, “piss off!”.
My work ethic still tells me it’s selfish…so it remains a struggle to achieve. Every. Damn. Day.
2) Next, this is math game. Simply put, calories out must exceed calories in.
Set a calorie goal based on your BMR (definition and calculator at the link).
TRACK your calories. I guarantee if you are not actively and honestly tracking your calories, you are eating far more than you think you are. Be mindful of hidden/less obvious calories like sauces/spreads/and the like. They add up fast. I use a free account on My Fitness Pal. You will rapidly learn how to substitute some of the high-calorie stuff with better choices, so you can eat better, perform higher, and stay fuller/more satisfied.
Set and try to keep in your macros as well (% of fat/carbs/protein). With some smart choices and practice you can do this and feel satisfied AND lose weight. It DOES take concentration though. Food is social. Food is a celebration. Food is a reward. NOT a good thing, since ultimately food is fuel. You can still be social, celebrate, reward…you just have to make mindful choices doing it.
…and note this: While there ARE some folks with particular (or even exotic) food reactions/allergies, they are actually pretty rare and many folks are just making excuses. Not to put too fine a point on it…but cutting out some magic ingredient (or adding one) isn’t going to do shit. No matter your limitations or excuses…you must still eat within macros/calorie goals to achieve this.
3) Now…work your ass off. Get some exercise. A LOT of it. I’m in the gym or at the trainer around 7-10 hours/week. Make this a priority. Cardio (walking, running, biking, treadmill, etc) AND strength/resistance training are both critical and they complement each other.
I’d advise some training to get you in the groove. You need to learn proper form and the like and if you’ve not been trained in it…well, let’s just say it’s a lot more involved than you’d expect.
Look for a personal trainer in a small shop near you. I stumbled onto this via a 6-week fitness challenge from Rowlett Transformation Center (RTC).
Once the challenge was over, I signed up for additional sessions. There is a lot to learn. If budget is tight, do the challenge, then work on your own at a gym and attend occasional sessions with your trainer afterwards as you advance and progress.
These “challenges” are usually small group with individulized plans/instructions (not everybody in the class is doing the same thing)…this gets you the training YOU need, support of the trainer and other clients, and doesn’t break the bank.
These sorts are less expensive than the trainers at the big clubs, better qualified, more motivating, and frankly…they are selling results. (the big box club trainers are usually selling the concept of fitness…not the results).
My current trainer is Travis Merrit, the owner of RTC. My previous trainer at RTC was Blaine Calloway, who now owns his own shop at Affinity Fitness. Both these guys are beyond AWESOME and I HIGHLY recommend them. They are competent, enthusiastic, supportive, and ready to work with you no matter your level.
If you are considering this (stop considering and DO it!) and you’re in the area of either shop…go see ’em! If you’re elsewhere, google “fitness challenge” and you’ll find a trainer near you. It’s usually a heck of a price deal and a good way to start your journey.
Join a “big box” club very near you and exercise there on your own. You can usually find a nice, well equipped place for $10-20 month. Ask your trainer for guidance on your “not with him/her” days. Then, go DO it…the hardest part is simply showing up. Your head…and other things…will do their very best to convince you otherwise.
4) THEN crank the entire thing up to eleven.
…and that’s it. Get on it!
Should you find yourself counter-pointing, disputing, or listing reasons why those 4 steps won’t work for ya…well..you’re making excuses and you’ve already lost. These are choices. Nothing more, nothing less.
Go back to #1 and get that straight.
And in case you think I’m being smug about this whole thing…well…no. I’m not. I’ve failed at this for more than 35 years…utterly and completely. I have reasons (excuses), but all the reasons in the world don’t help the problem. Pretty much like anything else in life…what helps the problem is some damn hard work.
It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with this…AND find a way to achieve the most important step (#1 in case you haven’t been paying attention 🙂 ).
It is, simply put, the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
Take the first step. And the next. They DO get easier…and you’ll like where you end up.
I’ll see you on the road.
You can read more about my fitness journey here.