Before we get into the second installment of my blog, I have to take a moment to sincerely thank all of the clients who were moved by the first installment that went out last week. I didn’t expect such a large amount of positive feedback, but I can honestly say that your comments and support made my week. Some comments were funny, others were heartfelt and encouraging, but all showed me how great of a community we’ve got at AFS and how invested we all are in each other’s success. It’s my mission to make sure no matter how big we get, that never goes away. As far as the blog goes, I hope reading about my struggles inspires you, and if it does, you might find a good starting point for your own weight loss journey in the content below!
So before I give you the “How To” on how I lost the weight, let’s quickly recap where we left off… Outside Jared’s (A2 Fitness Director) office on a late night back in May of 2011 I had finally hit my “OH S#$%” point.. Work, life, stress, bills, and every other obstacle had “gotten in the way” and I found myself at 263lbs, the heaviest I’d ever been. The one silver lining was that deep down I finally knew I was ready to make a change (when you get that feeling you’ll know). But as we all know there’s a big difference between being ready to make the change and actually making it. Further still, there’s an even bigger difference between making that change and sustaining it. I wish there didn’t have to be so many stages! Haha! Clearly I was in for a long road, but what good is the achievement without the hard work?! Off I went.
Now given my academic background and profession, you might think I’d have a leg-up on losing body fat, I mean this is something that I do every day (successfully) for a number of people. Truth is though, having the knowledge and doing something with it is very different. I needed an actionable plan! You’ve heard that before haven’t you?! Mine is below, and it might surprise you.
1. It’s Not a Race!
I gave myself permission to take all the Time I needed. From the start to the finish I didn’t care if this was going to take 12 months, 24 months, or 240 months! As long as I was making positive changes in my lifestyle I wasn’t going to put any pressure on myself to hit a certain number or a certain date. The further along I got, the more I was able to hone in on my numerical goals, but when I started I just wanted to move forward. NOTHING MORE!
2. Keep it Simple Stu..Well You Know
Mentally it was finally time that I stop overcomplicating things. We all hear a lot about weight loss and how to do it. Normally the more knowledge you have on a subject, the better! In this case though, it’s very easy to catch a case of “paralysis by analysis.” Meaning you spend so much time contemplating and researching that you forget to actually put one foot in front of the other! Finally I just said “STOP!” and took my own advice that I give clients every day. I started to move around more and eat less ( I know, I know..you thought it would be more complex than that 😉 )
3. Forget Optimal, What’s Probable?
I knew if I was going to increase my exercise volume I needed to be able to ENJOY what I was doing. I hate cardio; I don’t find it fun in the least. I love lifting! I could do it all day long. So I increased my strength training volume as a vehicle for burning more calories. I knew if my plan was going to be sustainable I had to LIKE what I was a doing. I would arrange my workouts so that I had shorter rest intervals with lots of “supersets” (going back and forth between two exercises with no rest in between) so that I would burn more calories during each session.
4. Eat Sustainably
I ate in a way that worked for my lifestyle. I’m busy, I work crazy hours, I don’t take lunch. I don’t have the type of schedule that’s conducive to eating “6 small meals per day” or something like that. I’d like to, but early on I recognized that would never work. So what did I do? I ate protein bars for most of my meals during the day. Not saying you should do that, but it worked for me; it was simple, it was sustainable. Some might say “that can’t be healthy” or “you need more variety.” Those people MIGHT be right, but I do know that 263 definitely wasn’t healthy. Eating this way was working for MY lifestyle (and still does to this day). I do my best to get 1-2 high quality meals in at home per day (chicken breast, lots of veggies, etc..) But during work I had to have a simple go to snack that didn’t come from a drive through. For those who are curious, I find Quest bars to be a great option. They’re high in protein and fiber and are made with ingredients you can pronounce.
5. Measure Progress
I held myself accountable with measurement. Every six weeks I would have Devin (Plymouth Fitness Director) take my body fat. I looked at the numbers; I was motivated by the positive assessments, and kicked in the pants by the not so positive assessments. Regardless, I had an objective metric of my progress. For the record, diligence with my assessments took a lot of courage. There were times that I didn’t want to go in and see the numbers, but I knew it was best for me. If I had a week or two of not so impressive eating I’d still drag myself into Devin’s office and face the music. I never once left an assessment feeling worse than when I went into it.. Regardless of what the numbers said! I left each one with new focus on my plan and encouragement from Devin to keep trudging forward.
6. Make it Last!
I reverse dieted. By the time I was done losing body fat I was eating about 1700 calories per day (pretty low for me). So I slowly started to eat more. I added an apple here, another scoop of protein there, until eventually I got myself up to eating around 2700 calories per day. The important part was I did so SLOWLY and didn’t gain back any weight or body fat. I can tell you from experience that this is the most common step that people skip and it leads to rapid weight re-gain and they can be back at square one in short order. When you get to your goal, be happy! But remember to maintain most of the habits that got you there. The best and worst thing about fitness is that it requires constant attention; you earn it every day, or slowly you lose it. In the long run you learn to love that fact because just like everything else in life, nothing worth being proud of is ever easy!
My advice to you- from one person who struggles with their weight to another is quite simple. Stop overcomplicating and start simplifying. Find exercise that you enjoy and eating habits (that reduce calories) that fit into your lifestyle. Measure your progress objectively. Give yourself permission to take all the time you need, heck, you’re certainly worth it. Once you’ve lost your weight, work your calorie restriction backwards by reverse dieting so you put your metabolism back in a healthy and happy place.
So That was it. That was my plan. I can almost feel your expectations deflating from here! No magic, no shortcuts, no cutting edge protocols?! Nope. Just work, time, and diligence. As I write this I’m questioning why I spent all that time in school if this is so simple 😉 . Although not complex, my “solution” is consistent with the solutions we give our clients at AFS every day. We give you the tools to accomplish every single one of the elements listed on my “master plan.” If you stay positive and keep moving forward there’s no way you’ll fail, no matter how many times you fall. Take me for instance, it’s taken me 4 years to get where I am today from where I was when I “started,” and I wouldn’t trade that time for anything. Through all the bumps, twists, and turns I’ve learned things about myself, changed how I feel about myself, and grown as a person. I guess they were right when they said “It’s all about the Journey.”
Speaking of..Isn’t it time you get back to yours?
All the best,