When I embarked on my weight loss journey, I knew nothing about losing weight. I knew nothing of how he body uses food. I knew nothing about exercise. I knew nothing! The good news is that there are hundreds (and probably thousands) of people out there willing to share their knowledge. They share in the form of a blog. I took the time to surf around and read as many weight loss and fitness blogs as possible (the key is to use an RSS Reader like Google Reader). Other people have traveled the same path that I am currently traveling and know the potential pitfalls. I am very thankful and grateful for those who have shared their journey and, unknown to them, helped me achieve the results that I am seeing.
I am by no means an expert in nutrition, fat loss and exercise. But I have learned a wealth of knowledge that, when applied, worked for me. As of this post, I’ve lost 48.4 pounds in the last 10 months or so. Not staggering amount of weight in that timeframe, but I’ve lost it the right way (no fad or crash diets) and have kept it off. However, the greatest joy I have in regards to my weight loss is when I get asked for advice. I love sharing what I have learned. I love when people realize that healthy eating and exercise works and want to get on the bandwagon. I know most people will take what I share and throw it away. They will never try. But, I know I am successful if one person gets healthy and they share their knowledge with others.
The amazing thing about shared knowledge, is that most people are willing to share and help if asked. You could leave a comment on almost any weight loss blog and get a response with help. I’m not advocating that in lieu of professional expertise, but its good to know that there are people out there they are willing to help you on your journey.
While my journey is far from over, I know there are people who want to start on their journey and know nothing. That was that same boat I was in not too long ago and I know the feeling of being overwhelmed by all of the information out there.
If you learn something along the way, don’t be afraid to share it. In the words of Zig Ziglar “You can have everything in life that you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”
When I started out on my weight loss journey, I had visions of grandeur. I thought that if I ate a healthy diet and went to the gym, then everything was going to be great and the pounds would melt off in no time. Well, everyone knows that isn’t the case or everyone would be fit and healthy. The reality is that there are setbacks and roadblocks along the way. They won’t stop you from getting to your destination unless you allow them to.
In the past, I’ve allowed setbacks to make me stop trying to lose weight. I’ve used setbacks as an excuse to fall back into old habits (i.e. buying a king size Milky Way candy bar for my drive home….every day of the week). In the past, I’ve allowed a one night setback to turn into a week long setback. Which subsequently turned into canceling my gym membership and gaining back the precious weight that I lost. Setbacks don’t need to be and shouldn’t be u-turns. They are valuable lessons that you learn and apply later in your weight loss and fitness journey.
I put that statement in bold, because its something I think is very important. When I took that statement to heart, and learned it’s meaning, my life changed forever. I was able to look at a setback, analyze what made it a setback, think about how I could have done something different or could have made a better decision and made a note of it so I could recall it later in my journey when I faced a similar situation. Setbacks, when understood, actually helped me better myself. The first time I used a previous setback as a tool for improvement left me bewildered. I was stunned when I realized that I had faced a similar situation in the past and I applied what I learned from that situation to better my current situation.
I started my weight loss journey in February 2010 and I have hit quite a few roadblocks and setbacks, and I know there will be many more to come. After hitting setbacks, I have realized that they come in several flavors and varieties:
While this type of setback can happen at anytime, it is most prevalent in the early stages of the journey when you are first getting into the gym. It is very easy to hurt yourself during the first few months of exercise, especially once you get into a groove and think you know what you are doing in the gym. Then it happens; you try and do one more rep or try and do a 30 second sprint. You strain a muscle, pull a hamstring, tweak your back…you now have a physical setback. You’ll hold off on all physical activity and wait to go back to the gym until you feel 100%, but that is the problem. While its smart to recover before you get back into the gym, its not smart to stop all physical activity. You will form a habit of not going to the gym and before you know it, you’ll cancel your membership and put the weight back on. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED TO ME!!!
Understanding this setback, when I hurt myself at the gym, I’ll walk/jog or do pushups/situps to keep the exercise habit and routine going. Then go back to the gym when I am ready. Being stagnant will cause you to u-turn. Don’t allow that to happen.
It took me some time to analyze this and understand what it is and how it affected me. After taking the time to understand this type of setback, I think its the type of setback that happens to us most often. When I was at my heaviest, I would turn to my comfort zone and bad habits when I had a bad day. In fact, I believe its what made me overweight. If I was having a bad day, I would go to Burger King for lunch and order as much food as I could possibly eat…and then eat it all. It didn’t take away what was making the day bad, but it would help me get through it. I would then go back to my bad day and have to try and console myself some more, so I would hit the gas station and get a king size Milky Way and a king size Kit Kat with an energy drink for the drive home.
That is my story, and I know many people who are or were overweight has a similar story. Our emotional state plays a huge role in our actions. More often then not, they make us take actions that are most comfortable…which are our habits. With this understanding, I knew I had to change my habits. I thought of foods that I could carry with me at all times so that when I had the feeling to resort to food, I could resort to something good for me and to minimize the impact. I wanted to make a win-win situation for myself. I tried carrying fruit around, but it would get beat up and uneatable. Then I tried meal replacement bars and/or granola bars. I found that if they had chocolate, they would melt in the car or would get stale. After experimenting, I found that nuts are the perfect solution. A handful of nuts are good for you and are fulfilling; they take away the hunger.
This doesn’t take away the underlying issues as to why I want to eat when I have a bad day, but it also removes the roadblock that sits in the way of my weight loss destination.
This is not the same as an emotional setback. A mental setback is stopping your actions because you are mentally worn down. You are just tired of your routine or you are distracted by thoughts of other things that are going on in your life. For example, its tough to focus on your health when you have in impending IRS audit.
Mental rest is just as important and valuable as physical rest. It also has the same pitfalls however. Don’t allow mental rest to u-turn you into your old habits. Take care of what is on your mind, then get back to focusing on your weight loss journey. If your routine is running you ragged and causing you to get mentally worn out, change your routine. Your new routine can and will be just as effective as your current routine, but the shake up can make it more exciting and rejuvenate your spirit.
A mental health break is something I take often. Most people that allow this to be a u-turn take long breaks, which allow old habits to creep in. I take short breaks that don’t allow me to get stagnant. Quick breaks allow me to get fresh again and get back to focusing on my goals.
This type of setback has been the bane of my weight loss. It has u-turned me more than any other setback in my many attempts to lose weight and get healthy. It seems like a simple setback that wouldn’t have long-lasting effect, but its a tricky one. Your buddies want to go to happy hour after work. So you go and have one or two beers. Then you have one or two more. Then you go to a bar after happy hour has ended and have a few more drinks. Before you know it, you are drinking all weekend. You had fun, so you do it again the next weekend. You try and get back on track, but you are having too much fun. Before you know it, you are eating pizza at 2am, waking up at 10am and grabbing a beer. Vicious cycle.
That might be an extreme scenario, but I’ve been there. How about this one…you go to a birthday party and you tell yourself you aren’t going to eat any cake. When the cake starts to get sliced up, you say “ok, just a little piece”. You get a little piece and some ice cream. You go to dinner later that night and you say to yourself “well, I’ve already blown it today, why not gorge?”. This is the easiest route to a u-turn. Been there, done that. Enjoy a piece of cake, eat a healthy dinner. Enjoy yourself at all times, but don’t let it stand in the way of your goals.
I am positive that there are several other types of setbacks, and that I’ll encounter them somewhere along the journey. The setbacks and examples listed above are the setbacks I’ve encountered in the past and how I now deal with them. Setbacks will happen, don’t let them u-turn you to old habits. Learn from them to improve yourself.
Several of my friends are ready to shed a few pounds and have asked me how I did it and what it takes to be successful. I have taken some time to reflect on my weight loss and to gain an understanding of what it takes to lose weight. What I realized is that losing weight is just as much a mental as it is physical. If you have taken any time to read other weight loss blogs, you’ll notice this as a common theme. It may not be in bold writing, and the blogger may not know it. But when someone talks/writes about the struggles of eating out or frustration with the scale, they are talking about the mental component of weight loss just as much as they are talking about the physical aspect.
It is true that I ate a slice of pizza, but why did I eat it? Why did I eat it when I know that it puts more distance between me and my goal. Why did I feel guilty after eating it? These questions have nothing to do with the physical act of eating the pizza; it has everything to do with the mental act and the thoughts leading up to the physical act. By the time my hand picked up that slice of pizza, I had already mentally defeated myself and gave in. What does this have to do with me explaining weight loss?
Figuring out what and when I should eat and how and when I should workout is the easy part. There is an overload of information on the web about both of these topics and if you take the time to do some reading, you will learn the answers to eating and working out….and in reality, even though I’m not an expert, I can teach people all of that. But what I believe is the key factor(s) to losing weight (and keeping it off) lies inside ourselves. Do I have the determination to lose weight? Am I willing to make serious sacrifices to lose weight? Can I say “No” to friends and family? Can I push yourself to go to the gym when you don’t feel like it? Can I order water at a bar when your buddies are all drinking beer? I could list a thousand such questions that relate to what we have inside ourselves. These are the things that no expert or guru can teach. These are the things that decide successful in losing weight or will be a roadblock to reaching goals.
Losing weight is hard. It takes a toll on your mental state. But to win the battle and to be victorious, you have to fight back. You have to turn away from temptation. You have to have more determination then you’ve ever had. You have to be willing to give up your favorite things. But, the good news, is that its worth it! And, once you prove your determination and your sacrifice, they become your habits. Yep….your fight, your will and your laser-like focus on your goals become second nature. They become part of who you are and they take over and guide you to your destination.
I found out the hard way, and unfortunately, everyone that wants to be successful at losing has to find out the hard way. There is no way to know if you have what it takes unless you embark on the journey. If you do take the first step to losing weight, well, you have already demonstrated that you have something inside you that wants to fight. Keep going and don’t stop until you reach your goal.
Throughout my weight loss journey, the one question I get asked the most is “how do you eat healthy on a regular basis?” It’s tough to stay on track with healthy eating. There are numerous external pressures that usually lead to unhealthy eating. Football season is always tough cause your buddies want to go to the bar. Or maybe you dine out with a few friends a couple of times per week. You may have great intentions, but something always comes up. This is what usually happened to me until my wife and I figured out a plan that helped us dine at home and stay on track with healthy eating.
Sunday morning, we look online, in cookbooks and at Cooking Light magazines for recipes that we want to eat for dinner during the upcoming week. We then create a dinner plan for each night in the week upcoming. We then fill in breakfast and lunch for each day for each of us. Once thats done being filled out, we are left with a meal plan for the entire week.
The next step is to make an ingredient list for all those meals. Once we have that list, we eliminate the ingredients on the list that we already have in the house. Whatever is left is what we need from the store. The only other items that are added to the shopping list is any snack items that either of us want. These items include mixed nuts, granola bars, fruit, string cheese etc.
We then head to the store and procure the items we need for the upcoming week. Since I am going to the store every week, it takes a bit more time, but the pay off is worth it. I am eating healthy everyday and its planned for me. I don’t need to rummage around looking for stuff to eat for the day. I also find that this system saves some money cause we are only buying items that we know we need. We aren’t buying products just to have them in the house. They are ingredients that are needed for the week.
This system has helped me and my wife eat healthy and save money (since we aren’t eating out). I have my wife to thank for coming up with this system and sticking to it.
If you are having a tough time staying on track with your diet, make a meal plan for a week and shop only for those meals. Try it for a week and see if increased the number of meals you ate healthy. There are a number of different ways to eat healthy and stay on track, but this system is what worked for my household. Try it out and see if it works for yours!
I am very happy the holidays are over. I loved em, but glad to see em go! I made it through Thanksgiving relatively unscathed, but Christmas kicked my ass in regards to weight loss. I let me best intentions go by the way side while I indulged in my old habits of eating and drinking too much. But, the real success is that I didn’t stay down. I’ve been working very hard to get back to pre-Christmas form. I am there and ready to continue losing weight and getting healthy.
I am still following the New Rules of Lifting workout regiment. I am in the Hypertrophy stage so I am adding a bit of muscle which is nice, but is making the more difficult for the scale to consistently show a smaller number. After Fat Loss 2, I skipped Fat Loss 3 and went to Hypertrophy 1. I’m thinking about doing Fat Loss 3 after I finish Hypertrophy. It taken about 5 months of consistently going to the gym 4-6 days a week to truly enjoy the gym. I love going to the gym. I love the energy and vibe in the gym. I look forward to waking up and knowing that I am making myself better. Its just like anything else, you just gotta form the habit.
I took a few minutes to reflect on the holidays as they relate to my health and I learned something very valuable. I realized that I have to eat a ton of calories to gain weight. I can have an “off” day and its not going to ruin my quest for health. That knowledge could be a bad thing, but its nice to have that in my back pocket if I have to attend an event or have a night on the town. It also made me look back at my old habits. To get to the weight I was, I was consuming a large amount of calories. The thought of 3000-5000 per day now makes me gag.
So that brings me to 2011. I am very excited for the upcoming year and all of the ups and downs it has in store for me. Namely, I will become a father in July. As I mentioned on my about page, this was one of the chief reasons why I wanted to lose weight and get in shape. Another reason to be excited for the year ahead is getting more healthy and in shape. I now have all the tools I need to make it a reality and to progress. I am about 9 pounds away from my initial goal of losing 54 pounds. I will hit that this year and set another goal of losing more fat and adding muscle.
One of my new goals for this year is to refine the way I eat. I really want to eat more natural food and have been exploring going to a paleo diet. I know it will be a challenge to cut out grains, but I know that if I can commit to it and give it a shot, I will be successful and more healthy. My wife has a gluten allergy, so we don’t currently eat a lot of bread, but cutting out rice will be the biggest obstacle. I love risotto!
2011 is my year. I have a bunch of personal and professional goals in the hopper and I know that if I stay focused and resolve, I will accomplish great things. FOCUS = (F)ollow (O)ne (C)ourse (U)ntil (S)uccessful
Here’s to 2011. May it give you everything you desire