Over the past few months I have dropped roughly 30lbs of bodyweight. Going from a rather sluggish, albeit very strong 235lbs, to a much healthier 205lbs. I am about 5’10 so being over 200lbs is plenty large enough to still move appreciable weight on the bar and look like I can do so.
I feel about 100x better, and I did it all without any formal plan, diet, or really anything that anyone would deem “challenging.” To be honest, weight loss is not a difficult process. It comes down to a few simple principles. Here are 10 of them.
1. Internal motivation is absolutely necessary.
You will not change until you want it. In this case I wanted to clean up my act, and I was motivated to do so. When that is the case it doesn’t seem like a chore at all. Frankly, you just do it. If you can’t stay accountable to simple principles such as eating less, moving a little more, and eating better it’s not a question of some outstanding outside factor. You’re not motivated correctly. You have to want to do it for you and you alone.
I chose to revert back to a schedule of meal frequency that I find most simple to follow. If you are going to make a change in what your day to day life involves objectively rank the ease at what you have planned for yourself from 1 to 10. If it isn’t at least a 9, it isn’t happening long term. Simply, back track your approach until you can rank it a 9 or 10. Once you have executed that plan successfully for a month, re-evaluate. It’s quite possible you’re already seeing the results you want. If not, see if you can make another small change and at this point be able to rate it high enough on a scale of compliance likelihood.
3. The food is not the first change.
What I eat, when I eat it, that’s not what I changed first. I chose instead to eliminate stress from my life, or it just so happened that some stress came to an end. In this most recent case, I made two big choices. The first was to change my schedule to allow for better sleep, and a more functional schedule. The second was to end a stressful relationship, not to optimize my bodyweight, but because it was no longer a healthy union. These two decisions alone had me dropping excess body fat faster than you would believe. I didn’t consciously make a single move in the nutrition or training department. Examine your situation, is there stress that you can eliminate, or at the very least mitigate?
4. Know yourself.
Here is what I know about myself: I like to eat big meals and feel full, I like to eat what I want in moderation, once I eat a meal I tend to be hungry more often, I find it hard to tell when I am actually hungry. Knowing these things I experimented with more of a fast and feast approach in the past with much success. I strayed away from it over the past year and a half for various reasons, but it was a no brainer to revert back to something I found easy to do and that made me feel great. Think about yourself, and choose an approach that fits your personality and schedule. Again, compliance is key.
5. Listen to your body.
When I first started dropping weight, I wasn’t hungry at all, even fasting from 9p the night before to 5p the next day. I just waited until I actually felt hungry to eat. As I dropped some quick excess weight I would get hungry sooner. I just listened and began eating a little earlier. At this point 30lbs lighter I fast about 4 hours less time. If I get hungrier earlier in the future I will listen and spread my food for the day out longer. You don’t need to marry some approach written by someone who isn’t you. Be dynamic and change as you change.
6. Do something physical every day.
This is something I moved far away from. I would lift 3 or 4x per week and do literally no formal physical activity on the other days. I have a bad habit of doing that over the winter months, but it had been going on even longer this time around. I find that doing something every day has two main benefits for me. One, it keeps me a little more accountable to a healthy lifestyle in general. If I do something physical I just so happen to feel better and therefore eat better. Second, these off day bouts generally involve moving myself around, tempo sprints, walking, mowing the lawn, etc. It’s not too enjoyable to do these things when you feel like you’re wearing a 20lb weight vest all the time. Therefore, it’s a reminder that being athletic is fun and not something I want to stray away from.
7. Own your change.
This one is straight forward. If you are making a change, own it, don’t dodge it. If people take a stab at you, compliment you, inquire of your reasoning, inquire of your approach, show them how excited you are to be making a positive change. Too often people are self conscious that they are making a change. It could be shame for having strayed away from a healthier lifestyle, or maybe you just don’t want to be different. If you own it, you reinforce it.
8. People will focus on how you look, you should focus on how you feel.
I get it, most of us lose weight to look better. I’ve already beat that demon to death, and I’ll tell you right now that’s a tough battle. The fact of the matter is, when you focus on how you feel, you will look great, and mentally be validating something that will last a lifetime. When you go down the road of aesthetics over health you are in for trouble, and short term success. I’ll reiterate, focus on how you feel running around, day to day, how your mood is, and so on. When all those things are feeling awesome, you will get dressed and be confident in how you perceive your image as well. Not to mention if those things don’t feel great, why you see in the mirror isn’t worth it nor will it last.
9. Don’t practice unnecessary restriction.
This is always something I enjoy seeing others fail miserably at…is that bad? Listen, I was there, oh was I there. I don’t find it comical in a malicious sense, I am just reminded of how misguided I was, so in reality I’m not being insensitive to others. I also understand how easy of a road it is to get lost on.
The first lane on this road is the one that you take when you get caught into diet schemes, cheat meals, meal plans, and the like. That stuff is garbage. Really, it is. Nutrition is just a necessary part of life, you have to eat. We all know what good nutrition is, the information isn’t hard to find. What we get screwed on is the notion that we have to be completely one way or another. It isn’t the case. Stop focusing on the food and focus on you. Look back at the other points above, I promise if you choose something for YOU, dial down stress, and place the importance on how you feel, you don’t need to restrict. You will regulate accordingly.
The second lane is also tempting. This is the lane that success leads you to. Once you see results, you can’t help but imagine the possibility of even better results. Just keep your vitals in check, if you can dial it in a bit more and not sacrifice how you feel, or what you enjoy doing then go for it. Just remember that one meal doesn’t make you any different, so when the time comes for something you enjoy, please enjoy it.
10. Drink a lot of water.
Didn’t see that coming did you? Seriously though, I haven’t met a lot of people who achieve a healthy lifestyle and don’t do this. It seems so over played, and yet it is so under executed. Drink water, lots of it, watch what happens.