When I was younger I was athletic. I was no star, but I was active constantly. I played sports including baseball, basketball, and soccer. As a young adult, I would be in the park daily with my friend Dan throwing a frisbee or a football.
There were times that you might have called me chubby, but I was not fat.
But that changed.
As life moved on I eventually found myself quite overweight. The slow, gradual weight gain can really sneak up on you. It's not like I woke up one day and was all of a sudden 330 pounds.
The Overweight Struggle
When you're obese, you're just uncomfortable. Going out and doing fun things wasn't fun. I would get hot and sweaty with even the mildest activity. Then I'd be sure that I had the most noticeable body odor.
Moving wasn't easy, my knees ached and I'd be out of breath easily. I didn't feel like I could keep up with others so it was easier to just not try.
Finding clothes that fit was impossible. Especially because I'm 6'4 with quite long legs and arms. Finding button-down shirts was the worst. I wasn't big enough for the Big & Tall section, I'd be swimming in those shirts. But the sleeves in the normal sizes wouldn't fit me.
Then there was the psychological struggle with clothes. Anything that even felt tight made me feel like I was having fat squeezed out of me. So I tended to wear larger sizes than necessary to give me peace of mind. But that just made me look worse.
I hated the way I looked. I hated photos of myself. I hated to look in the mirror.
Deciding to Change
I've become a pretty disciplined person in general. I think a lot of it stems from my decision to lose body fat.
I was tired of feeling embarrassed. I was tired of being limited. I was tired.
Losing weight was a lesson in discipline and consistency.
So how did I do it?
My Weight Loss Transformation
Losing weight doesn't happen overnight. I can only speak to my experience, but here are the biggest factors in my weight loss journey.
The Decision - I really believe this is the most important. No lifestyle change happens without you deciding to make it happen even if that decision is subconscious because you're trying to reach another goal.
I already had a lot of knowledge about diet, exercise, and physiology. There wasn't a lot to figure out for me. I had no excuse. I just had to decide to put into practice the things that I knew.
Diet is Most Important - I'm not sure anyone these days preaches exercise over diet as the most important factor in weight loss. But I do think there are still a lot of people who falsely think that if they just exercise enough they don't need to change their eating habits. From a thermodynamics perspective, you will always need to eat fewer calories to lose weight.
If you only change one thing, change your diet.
For me, eating was an evolution. I started with a sort of Paleo ethic which evolved to keto which evolved to more of an attention to protein to energy ratio. I landed here on my own through experimentation and then later learned about Ted Naiman. If you don't know Ted and you want to lose weight, read his book The P:E Diet.
Regular Exercise - Just because the diet is MORE important doesn't mean that exercise isn't important at all. I learned that for me personally, activity is extremely important. As an Enneagram 8, movement is an essential part of how I release stress and tension from my body.
I started by adding in weight training. Strength training helped me add a lot of muscle quickly.
There are countless benefits of exercise which all tie into weight gain/loss in some way. Stress relief and emotional regulation through endorphin release and the reduction of cortisol can play a role in your body's ability to lose fat. An increase in lean muscle mass raises your body's capacity for glucose usage.
Muscle is essentially a glucose container. The more muscle you have, the more glycogen storage you have. Not to mention the increase in resting metabolic rate that goes along with increased muscle mass.
Once you've got the diet dialed in, regular exercise is the next lever to pull.
Consistency - Once I figured out the diet and added in exercise, all I had to do was be consistent over time. It gets easier the longer you do it. I had to give up some things to be sure. I passed on beers with friends, ordered dishes at restaurants that were not my desired choices, and I worked out on days that I just wasn't feeling it.
I can tell you that sitting here now, I don't remember any of those individual beers, any particular sweet treat I passed on, or a workout I forced myself to do. The "pain" is only in the moment. Many of the behaviors I implemented have become healthy habits even to this day.
Deciding to get to a healthy weight is one of the best things I've ever done. My weight loss transformation was hard work but it has given me the confidence and ability to do things I would never have done as an overweight man. More than that, it's assured me that I can do difficult things.
What difficult thing are you trying to overcome?