The road to losing weight and getting fit seldom is a straight one. Here is how I lost 33 lbs and what I learned on the way.
When Does Change Happen?
When we set out to change something about ourselves, there usually is one crucial experience that gets us going. Before we may have known that some things about us we should address, but they get referred to “when I have time.” This convenient postponing usually lasts until we feel the pain has become unbearable.
For me and my weight that was the day when I was walking down a street. I had an appointment that was in 10 minutes walking distance and even to my rather overweight self back then it would have seemed preposterous to take the car for such a short trip.
But knowing it was that short a distance I got going too late and only had five minutes left to reach my destination. That meant walking at a rather brisk speed. I did, but halfway started sweating and getting out of breath so bad I had to stop. Standing there, all 5’11” and 196 lbs of me, I marveled how ironic all this was, having almost forgotten my appointment.
Because in my teens I had been the exact opposite: skinny, pale and riddled with bad acne, the poster boy of the underweight geek. That I, who in those days was ridiculed for his drumstick arms, now had a mid that looked like I had swallowed a soccer ball, didn’t quite feel like “now I showed you all.”
I envisioned a future of high blood pressure, heart attacks and dying. There and then I made the decision to finally land in the middle, have a normal weight and get fit. During the short phase between skinny and overweight I had at least approached that, and it had felt good.
The First Attempt Failed (Of Course)
The next days I put this decision into action and, knowing only as much about weight management and fitness as popular articles tell the mildly interested reader, I set out for the most obvious choice: a popular diet. It came from a magazine and seemed to fulfill the bill of what is usually considered “healthy, ” because it asked me to switch my entire nutrition to eating salads.
For me this amounted to a complete dietary revamp, as so far the closest I usually got to vegetables was through the tomatoes in ketchup. Yet that didn’t perturb me too much, because it sounded healthy and healthy was, after all, what I wanted to become.
That you can’t make 180 degrees turns overnight I learned soon enough: after four days of eating salads I threw up and quit.
When I eventually got over the ensuing self-pity, where I considered myself a total failure, I sat down and mustered some rational thought. I did what I should have in the first place and always do in my work in research: I analyzed the problem and examined all its components.
I Found Two Simple Weight LossTruths
It was, without a doubt, possible for people to lose weight. On the other hand, there are those who try and fail, sometimes 10, 20, 30 or even more times. What sets those that succeed apart from those that fail?
I started reading very many different books about weight loss and diets, I read through online forums dealing with the problem, and I used my access to research papers to look at those discussing obesity. The more I read, the more apparent two simple truths became:
- Any diet lets you lose weight, as long as it makes you eat less than you burn
- The people who managed to lose weight on a diet got along with that diet
This meant I needed to find a diet that suited me and not some supermodel. After evaluating many, I finally chose the “Hacker’s Diet,” as it lets you eat whatever you like, as long as you count the calories. It was the methodology I needed: highly controllable but letting me eat the occasional cheeseburger, if I managed to save up enough calories during the day.
Getting Into Fitness
Knowing that I was too self-conscious to join a gym, I also read up on strength training and learned that your body doesn’t care where you work out. That it won’t expect a gym with machines worth thousands of dollars – all it wants is enough resistance. This nicely tied in with my love of Roman history, from where I knew that the immensely strong and fit athletes of antiquity trained with nothing but their bodies, logs, stones or pulling a cart.
Even though that let me do it all at home, I here too had to set my own pace: I started exercising by doing knee push-ups, chin-ups with the help of a chair and lunges with my body as weight. I also picked up running, which in the beginning meant that I ran for a minute, had to catch my breath and then tried again.
But my weight kept going down and slowly, ever so slowly, I kept getting stronger.
Learning To Love Myself
In the end it took me four months to lose 33 lbs (15 kg), which amounted to losing a healthy 2 lbs per week. Sometimes it was tough, but paid off. Because I didn’t only lose the weight, I also learned a lot about nutrition, fitness and myself, which to this day enables me to keep the weight off.
I first had to realize I had a problem and then that I’m an individual that can’t just use any cookie cutter solution. This, in my opinion, means loving yourself, because you truly spend some time thinking about who you are and what you need. If you don’t afford yourself that much self-respect, why should any diet or workout program work for you?
Find Your Way And Love Yourself, Too!
Find out what diet you get along with and also what form of fitness you enjoy. You do that and everything else falls into place almost by itself. If you need some help getting on this road, here is my summary of what I learned about weight loss, and here is what was basically the workout program I started with.
Rabbit picture courtesy of “Robobobobo“.