July 24, 2012 § 3 Comments
I did it again on Sunday. It wasn’t easy – it never is – but I did it. And it’s getting easier. Every time this happens, it gets a little easier. Years ago, I would have never done it. I would have pretended like I was fine and there was no point in pretending like it was that bad, so I didn’t do it. Because I knew if I had done it, if I had seen the truth, I would have to do something about it, and doing something about it is hard. It’s too hard. I’ve done it too many times before to not be aware of how badly I didn’t want to get into that situation again.
But on Sunday, I did it.
No, I’m not talking about watching The Killing, I’m talking about the biggest step any person who has struggled with their weight has to make. I stepped on that stupid, dumb, idiotic, truthful, brutally honest, bitch of a scale. I had to. I am too old, I’ve been through this too many times, to not know that I had to do it.
It hadn’t been that long since I weighed myself. If you’ve followed this blog, you’d know that I last did it when I lost almost 15 pounds in 15 days. But since that time, I haven’t stepped on a scale. I have put it in the back of my mind and gone back to living how I live. I don’t live very healthy.
It helps that I didn’t drink for a month. It helped a lot actually. But I did eat that month. I ate a lot actually. I ate healthy, in that you would have said, “Damn, you have a healthy appetite.” I ate well, in that you would have said, “Well, you’re going to get fat again.”
I didn’t stop going to the gym, but I sputtered in going to the gym. Like my 93 Volvo, I got there, but I didn’t get there fast and I didn’t get there consistently. My engine needed a lot of tweaking and so I put it out of commission for awhile. Maybe I’d go once a week, and twice a week was a miracle. But on Sunday, after a couple of months of ignoring my eating, ignoring my workout, I did what had to be done. I made that step.
It’s important to recognize that even if I had ignored my fitness for a couple of months, I used to ignore it for a couple of years. A couple of months of “damage” is easily fixable. Two to three years of damage is a road that’s so long, so arduous, that oftentimes it doesn’t feel like it’s even worth it. Having added only a handful of pounds, I laugh in the face of the journey ahead of me. I’ll be back to where I want to be in no time.
(Note to self: It’s still hard, and it’s not “no time” but I did what I had to do.)
If I had stepped on the scale during the college years, I would have never ballooned to 360+ pounds. I know this. I know that any time you have to face what you weigh, who you are, how much you’ve gained, it becomes too much to bear. Maybe you don’t want to start changing, but then “want” doesn’t matter. You have to do it.
At least for me personally, I always have to.
Now I step on the scale the moment I realize that it’s the last thing I want to do. You want to be in a position where you’re fine with stepping on a scale, maybe even excited, but it’s when you don’t want to that you know you need to.
I forced myself in a position where I knew I had to start eating healthier again and start going to the gym consistently again. I did what I had to do, and here we are. I’ve got a trip coming up in about two months that I’m more excited about than any trip before. I want to be a little bit more fit, so I took step one. The only step that I feel is necessary for everyone, and while it’s the easiest thing you’ll do over the next however-many-months, it’s the one with the biggest mental block.
Get over the mental block. Do what you have to do. If you’ve got any doubt or fears about doing it, then I implore you… go step on that scale. Today.
(Edit: I originally titled this as the biggest obstacle is ‘Doubt’ which does apply, but the word I really meant is ‘Denial.’ Being in denial of how much you’ve gained or the position you’re in, is the real obstacle.)
May 3, 2012 § 11 Comments
When you lose a belt loop, all other bets are off.
I went from 4 loops to 3 and that’s when I knew I had pushed the limit and it was time to get back to where I was before. But it’s not going to happen over night… it’s going to happen in two months.
I give myself two months to lose 30 pounds and get back to the best shape of my life, but it all has to start somewhere and I’m starting with an intense 15 day plan to get back to 230 lbs by May 1st.
“Have a Cool Summer!” is the standard yearbook message that we’ve seen scribbled across dozens of pages in our school years. To me, as a fat kid growing up, I always wanted to have the summer that would allow me three months away from my schoolmates in order to shape up and surprise everyone.
I never did have that summer.
I used to be a much larger man, once pushing 360 pounds and now I am but a fraction of my former self. Still, over the course of a year I have put back on thirty pounds. When you’re a guy of my size and stature this isn’t nearly as bad as it might seem. Weight comes and goes a lot quicker for me. I am not obese now but I also don’t plan to ever be obese again. That’s why I am using the next two weeks to workout hard, eat right and see if I can cut my goal in half in two weeks.
This is a journal. I am using this journal so that it does not only help me but helps anyone else out there understand how I did it. If it can help just one person, then it’s worth it.
The loop heard ’round my waist. I can go to four but it’s too tight to breathe and now I’m just lying to myself. I put it at three loops and know that I’ve fucked up again.
Food – Smart Ones sliders, Lean Cuisine spaghetti, single bag of doritos, banquet nuggets.
Workout – My car starts to die as I leave work. I get to the gym, which is only a block from work, and decide that I’ll need to spend extra time there to let my car cool down and traffic die. I workout for an hour and fifteen minutes.
First time I’ve weighed myself in awhile. 244.5 lbs.
Food – Healthy Choice chicken and potatoes, two bags of baked lays, roasted chicken, fruit cup, hummus & carrots
Workout – One hour on the elliptical
Morning weigh-in: 240 lbs. I’m 1/3rd of the way to my goal in two days. That’s a lot of water! I know that the weight will drop faster in the beginning but its good to know that I only have to lose 10 lbs in 13 days now. With any luck I’ll be at 135 in one week and then only have 5 lbs left.
Food – Healthy choice low sodium soup (to me, low sodium is the key in soup over anything else because soup has SO MUCH salt in it to begin with,) Healthy Choice linguine, Smart Ones Santa Fe Rice and Beans, roasted chicken, carrots, fruit cup, hummus.
Workout – One hour on the elliptical. Eat your heart out, DJ Tanner.
Weigh-in: 238 lbs. I’m now just about halfway to my goal with three days under my belt and twelve to go. I’m motivated to hit 230. It’s important to set goals and to make them short and realistic. I know that long term I want to be much healthier than what 230 lbs will bring, but it’s too hard to focus on what I’ll look like, weigh, feel like in six months. It’s a lot easier to think about what I could do in the next two weeks. I have twelve more days of this intense workout and that’s all I’m thinking about: the next twelve days.
My body is just a wreck this morning, too. I joined a gym about three months ago and I’ve been exercising but this morning I realized that I wasn’t pushing myself as hard as I could have. In the last three months I haven’t come close to feeling as worn out as I do right now and it’s a good thing to feel like such a pile of useless shit. Putting in twice as much time on the elliptical as I did before and changing up the programs and resistance has really helped. It’s important to have variation in your workout as much as anything else. I should probably do something besides the elliptical but honestly nothing kicks my butt as hard when it comes to cardio.
Food: Lean pocket egg and ham and cheese, “Hummus House” (a restaurant by my work) roasted chicken, salad and hummus, low-fat/low-sodium chicken noodle soup, carrots (Need more hummus!) and fruit cup.
Workout: Body killing me and had to get home earlier. So “only” did 30 minutes of cardio but I would have felt guilty if I hadn’t done anything.
I now go to bed thinking about my weight, unable to fall asleep. It’s weird, it’s like I can “feel” my fat now. In the past I would gain weight and not think about it but over the last year I honestly think I could feel myself getting fatter and it was uncomfortable. I want to get comfortable again and now I can’t help but focus hard on my goal. Which makes it hard to sleep or think about anything else.
Weigh-in: 237 lbs. Another pound in the books. If I eat light and healthy today and do 45-60 of cardio, I could be close to 235 going into the weekend. It would be great to have a good feeling going into the weekend because the weekend will be the hardest part. I will drink at some point and I’ve decided to switch to wine for any such drinking occasions over these 15 days. Beer is definitely OUT but liquor might come into play.
The most important thing is that I keep myself under control with the eating and not drink too much. Drinking is the absolute worst thing for a diet because: A.) Beer and alcohol have calories and some have A LOT. I could probably easily consume 1500 calories in a night of drinking. B.) When I am drunk I am hungry and I don’t make good decisions on what to eat. C.) You’re eating very late at night, giving the food no time to digest.
It’s the worst thing I could do and I’m so focused right now that I won’t allow myself to do it.
UPDATE: I’m being told that I’m going to New York Monday-Wednesday on an all-expense paid trip which is awesome but will have to make me focus even harder and it’s not coming at the best time but NEW YORK!
Food: Lean Pocket, Healthy Choice Lemon Fish, apple, hummus and carrots.
Workout: One hour on the elliptical. I was sooo tired but I now have guilt if I don’t work out and I think about missed opportunities to advance through my 15 lbs in 15 days. When I get home, I am too tired to eat. Later, I will play poker and eat the insides of a BLT. Oh yeah, I drank over a bottle of wine.
Weigh-in 234 lbs. Yeah, I don’t want to jinx myself but I’m close to losing 15 lbs in half the time that I planned. Going to New York is a road block but I am in the zone right now so I can’t see myself falling off of the wagon.
It’s Sunday but knowing that I have to go to New York, I workout for over an hour. My weight going to New York is now 233. Only three pounds to go but New York will probably be a setback.
April 23-May 2nd
So, my journal efforts died when I went to New York. I was no longer keeping a record of what I ate or when I exercised so I have to sum this up:
In the Big Apple I didn’t restrict myself as much but I was mindful. Still, when someone is paying for your drinks and when you’re only in New York for a couple of days, take advantage. I can lose weight whenever but I was only going to be at the Hofbrau Munchen (German bar) once so give me a liter of beer please.
I ate the free snacks and apps (Mac and Cheese bites, chicken wings, chicken strips) and had a good time. When I get back, it’s back on track.
I get back on Wednesday night and am so tired from the trip that I don’t workout on Thursday. I do workout on Friday night though and do an hour on the elliptical. I now find myself in a position where I can’t do less than an hour of cardio or I feel like I’m cheating myself. This is why I stress the idea of “Just one more.” Push yourself to the limit and then do “just one more” and you’ll find that eventually the bar keeps being reset.
Over the weekend I eat pizza, twice, but stick to wine for my drinks. Otherwise, I eat pretty healthy. On Monday I get distracted and am unable to go to the gym but on Tuesday I’m back at it. As you’ve noticed in my diet, I eat a lot of “healthy” tv dinners (but I’m not dumb, I know that they’re not a solution) but with my available time they are the most convenient way for me to control my caloric intake.
I eat enough to give me energy to exercise and I don’t eat unhealthy calories when I don’t have to. The most important thing to me right now is the exercise and it’s working.
Well, this is my 15th day so did I lose 15 lbs in 15 days?
I have fallen short of my goal but only by two pounds and this included a three day stop in New York so I know that I could have done it and that I’m right on the edge. The best part about it is that I feel good about the fact that I ate well and I exercised. I did not crash diet and I did not take any “fat burners” or other “PEDS”. I just pushed myself to continue working out and gaining confidence through the fact that I did it when nobody was watching. I did it for myself.
I have always wanted to help overweight kids conquer their self-esteem issues about being overweight. Sure, I want to help them be fit and healthy but I also want the to be aware of the fact that how you view yourself will be a lot more noticeable to people than your physical appearance. Let them see that you love yourself and that you love how you look no matter what and the confidence will shine through.
I had someone like that when I was a kid. His name was Pat and he was one of my camp counselors. One of the biggest guys I’ve ever met but also one of the funnest and funniest. His personality shined through and you didn’t think of him as fat, you just thought of him as Pat. With a personality so big that he was once on Wheel of Fortune.
These are the kinds of role models that overweight kids need so that they know that no matter how you look, you’ll always be as attractive as how you see yourself.
If you’re reading this and not feeling so good about yourself or your weight, cheer up. There’s a problem and there’s only two solutions to that problem: Change the way you eat and exercise or change the way you view what’s “beautiful.”
If you want to lose weight I’m only going to ask you one question and it’s not “What have you done with your life?” That seems to be the question that many people have for overweight individuals, wanting to know how you “got so fat.” It doesn’t matter how.
No, I don’t care at all what you’ve done with every day of your existence. My question for you is only this: What are you going to do today?
And remember, Have a Cool Summer!
By the way, I am now at 230 which turned out to be 15 pounds in 16 days.
April 10, 2012 § 4 Comments
One of this blogs many personalities is as a dieting/health blog, a recounting of how I lost 150 pounds. Maybe by continuing to talk about it, I’ll stop shoving sugar and grease into my fat fucking face.
My story of weight gain and weight loss has been well-documented on this blog. The much shorter story is this: I weighed a lot, then I weighed less, then I weighed more, then I weighed less, and then at one point after moving to Los Angeles I weight 210 lbs, which was 150 lbs less than I weighed when I graduated from college.
That’s basically it.
That 210 pounds was a year ago and while I’ve been able to keep myself in check along the way, I’ve still put on 20 pounds in the last year. Luckily, 20 pounds is a bitch ass number that I can whip into shape quickly, because I dominated 150 pounds so 20 looks like Matthew Lawrence compared to Joey Lawrence. Yeah, Matthew Lawrence is significant, but he’ll never be the guy that said “Woah” or the guy that said anything, really.
In picture form, my struggle with fatness is as such:
I’m 6, rockin’ my Alf shirt:
Then I’m 17, fat expanded
Then I’m graduating college, dealing with the Yo-Yo effect
Then last year, I hit my lowest weight ever. (Remember that I am 6’6″)
I’m doin’ a “Fuck yeah” eye wink in that picture. Never felt so amazing and I had hit my “swagger point,” which is a term I made up and am now rolling with.
Swagger Point (Swaa-gurrrr Poy-nt):
1. The point during weight loss in which you feel really amazing about yourself and you say to being fit: “Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna run around and desert you.”
2. A “makeout point” for urban youth.
Dealing with the first definition of Swagger Point, I firmly hit that when I went under 215 for the first time. My jaw was tight, my jeans were practically skinny, and shirts that once looked like baby clothes on me were genuinely loose. How could anyone possibly want to ever give that up?
Well, certain laziness and JUSTIFICATION OF BAD EATING (one of the keys to gaining weight back) has caught up to me and I’m on the wrong side of the hill and falling fast.
I went to the gym 3 times last week, which is good, but 4-5 times is better. I had a few days last week where I ate healthy, and then on Saturday me and some friends had a party of sorts that made us all very hungry and I ate mini-corn-dogs-a-plenty.
Time to stop the cycle so that I can get back to my swagger point. Writing this today is going to help me maintain that. I need to continue to be a square… and I need to find that Alf t-shirt. Might fit me again one day.
March 18, 2012 § 5 Comments
If you havin’ girl problems I can sympathize, son
I got 99 problems and this is one
I was at the grocery store today and needed to pick up a few things. A few dinners, a few lunches, a few snacks. At the behest of keeping my “skinny clothes” within reason and not stretched out like Goldie Hawn’s face, I try to eat healthy. I put in work to lose weight and I’d like to keep as much of it off as possible, so I try to steer clear of the cookies (Samoas, thanks!) and chips (Lay’s Salt & Vinegar or just tortilla chips and guac.)
What are the healthy alternatives? Well, it doesn’t get much better than some good, old-fashioned fruit. There’s a section with all of the pre-sliced fruit, including my favorite combination: Tropical Tango!
Mango, apples, kiwi, and pineapple. Fuck. Yes.
Without question, without hesitation, and without guilt, I will dominate this bucket of sliced fruit in a single sitting. Maybe all of that natural sugar is still too much, but better than eating a gallon of Moosetracks. (Would if I could.)
The real problem doesn’t lie in the sugar or in my ability to devour a pound of fruit, but in the cost of purchasing a pound of pre-sliced fruit. NINE DOLLARS?! AND THAT’S “ON SALE”?
I hate to spend $9 on a MEAL, let alone a fruitragious snack!!! What kind of bullshit is this? Isn’t this the shit that we are SUPPOSED to eat? The shit that’s pushed on us from the time that our teachers were teaching us about food pyramids since we were six years old? Where on the food period is “save your fucking pennies though, kids!”?
Between grains and proteins? Didn’t see it there.
It’s the shit that is still pushed on us by Michelle Obama telling us that are kids are fat. I am NOT political, and I will not take a stance on anything political here, but just using it as an example that the Presidency is telling us to get fit but not willing to drop the cost of a fucking mango.
And it’s not just fruit. Try to eat healthy, period. You can’t even shop at Whole Foods unless you start pulling in six figures or hit a pick six on the lottery. My fruits, veggies, grains, and proteins all cost extraordinarily more than a double stack at Wendy’s or a JR Whopper.
Bucket of healthy and delicious fruit: $9 on sale.
Jumbaco: $2 and it takes far less time to make a Jumbaco than if I wanted to just buy the fruit whole and cut it myself (and still pay over $10.)
The whole system of buying and selling food is the absolute opposite of the shit that we are preached in school and taught to do as adults. Not all of us have time to make dinner after a long days work, let alone breakfast after a restless night of sleep. And if I do want to get breakfast on the go, the options are: Egg McMuffin that will cost a buck and take 2 minutes of your time or cup of fruit that costs $5 and required the additional 5 minutes to go into the store and buy it.
Here’s a novel fucking idea: Make the drive-thru’s for the healthy shit and make the fruit cost $2 and the McMuffin cost $5. Then we can eat healthy because it’s a CHOICE and not eat unhealthy when it’s a CONVENIENCE.
You can call me out for being “too lazy” to cut my own fruit or cook all of my meals, you can call me “cheap” for bickering over a few bucks, but even if that’s true can we at least agree that the system is fucked up and that it goes AGAINST what we’ve been told about how to eat for our entire lives?
Can we please get that shit right???
For more info on the subject, watch FOOD INC on Netflix Instant.
For more ranting and bullshit, you can follow me on Twitter at my new handle @KennethArthurS
Oh, by the way, I finished my bucket of Tropical Tango in a few hours of short trips to the fridge. I want to say it’s worth it, but would be more worth it at $5 per bucket.
March 6, 2012 § 3 Comments
And with all of his effort complete, he had to come to some conclusion.
I like conclusions. I like wrapping everything up. Maybe to some people conclusions sort of take away all of the effort you put in up to this point (why didn’t you just say this to begin with?!) but as much as I loved the ending to The Sopranos, this is my way of giving you a final perspective on what I’ve learned in 29 years of being fat. And no matter how much weight I lose, I will always be fat. That’s why it’s good for me to never forget the following.
There’s something so deeply ingrained in the mind of a person that constantly struggles with weight problems. There is a part of us that can never let go. Whether it’s bad metabolism, bad habits, addiction, depression, or a combination of all of those things, we have a hard time just moving on. When thin people made fun of me as a kid, the only part that really bothered me was that they had no fucking idea what they were talking about. They’d tease you for what they thought you could control. They thought it all amounted to a Big Mac and an inability to get off of the couch.
But it’s deeper than that. It’s an unidentifiable part of my psyche that won’t allow me to just rest, or to just be, without gaining weight. I have to consciously think about my eating habits and my dieting habits, otherwise I will gain weight. And I’ll gain it rather quickly. That’s why I have to stay on top of the situation every day of my life or I’ll go right back to where I was before. Like a recovery heroin addict that can’t have a single slip-up, I can’t just wake up and live my life and go to bed without knowing that every decision I make could negatively effect me.
A person who has been in shape for their entire life, whether that’s because they’re working out or because “they just have one of those bodies” doesn’t have to think about it. They are just living their life. But a person that has always had a problem with their weight, whether they have lost it or not, will always have to think about it. That’s my life.
I guess sometimes I gain weight just as a way to ease some of the load off of my brain.
Through it all, through three major losses of weight and at one point losing 150 total pounds, I’ve learned a lot. I haven’t yet found out how to just be, but until I do these are all of the tips I can hope to share that help me lose weight when I need to lose weight. In diet and in exercise, this is what I now know. I hope that it helps because I don’t want my experiences to just be for me, I want to help others as well.
This is what I’ve learned, starting with working out:
Just Do One More
You’ll learn a lot about yourself when you first start to workout or diet. Good things and bad, probably. I’ve got my faults but one good thing I’ve learned about myself is that I’m always willing to go further. This is mostly because I’m very impatient and I go pretty hardcore when I want to lose weight. If it can be done in six months, what can I do to get there in five?
One thing that I always do when I workout is “Do one more” and it’s something that you have to be able to hold yourself accountable for. Sure, if you have a workout partner, someone who is experienced and knows a lot about training, they’ll push you. If you have a trainer, he or she will push you. But I can’t afford a trainer and I’ve not always had the opportunity to have a workout buddy.
So that means that the majority of the time, I have to be my own motivator.
Most of what I do now is cardio, but “Do one more” still applies to running or other forms of cardio. Usually, I’ll set myself a certain amount of time that I want to spend on the elliptical. Let’s call it “30 minutes” since this is usually what I start at. So you finally finished your 30 minutes and you’re tired as fuck but are you really in a hurry to get out? Do you have somewhere else you need to be? Why not do one more minute?
The way I see it, you’ll only be here in this moment once. Sure, I’m exhausted and when I was at 20 minutes I could hardly even envision myself finishing the last 10, but you’re here now and you’re “done” but why do you have to be done? You’re here now and you just did 30 minutes, so why the hell can’t you do 31?
Sometimes, you’ll just do that one extra minute. Sometimes I’ve told myself “just one more” and then I’ll end up doing another 30. Whether or not you do 30 extra or 1 extra, the point still remains that you’ve pushed yourself further than you expected and that’s good for you both mentally and physically.
Physically, doing one extra minute of cardio (or one extra rep in muscle training) might not seem like a lot. Hell, it’s not a lot. But if you consistently tell yourself “just one more” then that’s going to add up. Like cutting out 100 calories a day, eventually that extra step will add up to perhaps an extra pound or two of fat loss per year. That’s certainly significant to me. And what I’ve found is that the “just one more” will usually amount to at least five extra minutes of cardio, which is that much more significant in your efforts to reach your goal.
Mentally, it can mean so much more.
You might have started this workout not believing you could do 30 minutes and when you accomplish that you feel good about yourself. Now you’ve done 35. You’ve set a new bar and you’ve gone further than you believed you could. Every time you do something for the first time, you’ve now found out how far you actually can push yourself. You’re not going to get very far if you set a low bar and then just do that each and every time. In fact, even if you run for 30 minutes at the exact same pace, eventually you’ll just be running circles. Your body needs to be pushed.
Don’t do what’s easy, do what’s possible. You’ll find out that you’re capable of doing more than you could have imagined.
Over time, I find myself starting at something simple but after six months or a year, I can’t believe what I’m actually doing. The only way to get there is to push yourself, because at first that means you’re doing 31 minutes and by the end of it you’re doing 2 hours. The body needs to be pushed if it’s going to advance, so take it easy on yourself by taking baby steps, but never stop moving forward and re-setting the bar.
It’s only one more.
Pay Attention To Your Heart Rate!
I can’t emphasize enough how much more important heart rate is than anything else. Well, I can probably over-emphasize it because I am just a novice workout guy, but one thing that I have learned is that your heart rate will be the indicator of the effort. It’s not so much about how far you’re running, how hard your resistance is, or how steep the incline is, but it’s about how much effort your putting into it.
What I have found out is that I like to keep my heart rate above 150 for at least 30 minutes. Usually, based on my efforts I will be at around 160, but talk to a professional about what’s best for you. I’ll go onto the machine and workout and after 10 minutes I’ll check my heart rate. Don’t monitor it the whole time, keep your arms moving and focus on your intensity but make sure that you’re heart rate is at a good place, otherwise you’re either in danger (too high) or wasting your time (too low.)
I hate wasting my time at the gym. Work hard or don’t work at all.
I’m a Music Guy
I was working out on a elliptical machine back in 2009 when I had just joined the YMCA and it had been awhile since I worked out on a consistent basis. So at first, I didn’t pay much attention to things like “What am I listening to?” or “What am I watching?” That particular Y actually had personal TVs on all of the machines, and I would usually just put on Wheel of Fortune or something and do my thing.
It was a fine workout.
Then one day I decided to try listening to music and I turned the TV to the Music Channel that was playing 90s Rap. There was no conscious effort on my part to workout differently. I was just listening to Snoop and Dre and going about my business. By the end of the 30 minutes though, I was exhausted and sweating unlike I ever had previous to that. My heart rate was off the charts and I kept it up consistently throughout.
I don’t know what music will work best for you, but find out your perfect workout routine. It doesn’t have to be music, but whatever it is that helps you work out hardest, listen to it. There’s a real correlation between how you keep your mind occupied while you workout and how much effort you’re putting in.
Bring a Buddy, If You Can
Like I said before, I have done much of my exercise without a workout buddy. Therefore, it’s not a necessity. But having someone to hold you accountable is never a bad thing.
The first time I ever started working out, I had a workout partner. Even though I had to get up at 5 AM, I never missed a day because I knew that someone was waiting for me. I knew that there would be someone to tell me “Where were you yesterday?” I think it’s always key to hold yourself accountable, but that doesn’t mean that having others hold you accountable is a problem either.
As far as trainers go, I have never had one but I probably would have one if I could afford to spend the money on one. I’m not ashamed to have someone guide me and as far as muscle training goes, I could definitely stand to learn more. When you’re trying to better yourself, never be afraid to ask for help.
Alone Or Not, You’re Accountable For You
I still want to emphasize that no matter how you work out, whether you got a buddy or you don’t, you still have to hold yourself accountable. You’re only going to get out of it as much as you put into it and when you give up you’re only hurting yourself.
I used to watch The Biggest Loser and think “Those ungrateful fucks. Put me on that show and I will dominate this shit.” It’s unbelievable to me to watch people have this amazing opportunity where they are: In an environment that’s set up for success, with highly trained professionals, healthy food provided for you at no cost, and on top of that an opportunity to win money for something that you should have been doing for free, and yet they still complain?!
Be one of those contestants that makes Bob and Jillian tired. Be one of those contestants that makes the other contestants look like shit. Push yourself further than anyone else thought you could do. Surprise people. Even if you have a trainer, and the trainer says “Okay, give me two more!” then you give them four more. Do more than you’re asked to do. Don’t bitch about it when you’re asked to do more, tell them that it’s not enough.
If I hire you to do a job and you fuck up, then you’ve let me down. But bettering yourself isn’t something that’s usually going to matter to anyone else. You’re the one that has to look in the mirror. You’re the one that has live in your head. You’re the one that has ask yourself “Did I do enough?”
At the end of the day, weight loss is a one-person operation. I can mentally handle it when I let a girl down during sex (obviously) but I can’t handle it when I have to say to myself, “You let me down.”
Have A Routine But If You Have To Break It, Make The Effort To Do Something Once A Week
It’s really important to have a routine, no matter what that is. Whether you’re going Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or you’re going Monday-through-Friday, setup the routine that works for you. However, sometimes life happens and we aren’t able to make it. We have to break that routine. Don’t let it break your stride.
Every time I have stopped working out, it’s been because of one week missed. Every. Single. Time.
You know how you can stop that? Just don’t miss a week. No matter what happens, it’s hard to come up with an excuse for why you missed a whole week of exercise. Usually, if I’m in the routine of Monday to Friday (and that is my routine) then there will always be times when I miss a day and if I’m going hard, then I’ll make it up on Saturday. But let’s say that you’re having a terrible week and you’re sick or you’re exhausted or you just don’t feel up to it because your favorite contestant was voted off of American Idol.
Just go once. For fifteen minutes. Do something. That’s it. Don’t sit there at the end of the week and look back and see that you did nothing because its going to A) Justify you missing next week and B) Make you feel like shit. You don’t want to feel like shit about yourself when you’re trying to do something to make yourself feel better. If you miss a week, then you’re going to miss another. But if you made an effort to go even once, then you’ll still be in some sort of routine of, “I made it to the gym last week. Don’t quit.”
The dropoff from “gym rat” to “lazy boy” is not a slow one. It’s a sudden one. You go from “five days a week” to “zero” in absolutely no time. So keep yourself going to the gym. Keep your routine. Even if you have to miss a day or two and can’t make it up, make some effort to be there in some capacity otherwise you’ll start to justify the reasons for missing the gym the next time.
I am not a trainer. I don’t know that much about “How to” exercise. I’m just a regular guy that’s dealt with weight problems his whole life and these are some of the things I’ve learned along the way. Next time, I’ll discuss the dieting tips that help keep me from being the giant person I know I can be.
February 15, 2012 § 4 Comments
So here we are. When we last left off, I had just gotten home from graduating college and I weighed around 360 pounds.
It’s hard to get an exact number because normal scales don’t go that high. When I stepped on the scale, I just got an error message. I was able to guess that I weighed 360 based off of the moment I was under 350 and could step on a normal scale again. Because I had already lost significant weight twice in my life, I am confident that I was at 360.
When I looked at the picture of myself at college, a switch went off in my head. From that moment forward, I was on a diet. There was no “last meal” and there was no “diet starting tomorrow.” The diet had started. It was like a revelation of sorts where every item of food that could make me gain weight became the enemy. Every extra calorie was an extra second that I’d have to wait before I felt comfortable in my own body again.
That’s how I became an extreme dieter.
I don’t know if anyone has wondered this, but this series is titled “The Honest Story” for a reason. It could just be the story, because what would I have to lie about? Truthfully, it’s just not easy to talk about your own personal struggles with weight gain and weight loss. It’s personal. So I don’t go around sharing the news.
Inevitably though, people want to know “How”? And I have to tell them.
I was eating under 500 calories per day.
I don’t think that you would call me anorexic, because I ate whenever I could. I relished the opportunity to eat. I fucking LOVED eating. I just cut it down to a few small meals a day. Whatever I needed to do to get by until my stomach had physically shrunken to a point where I was no longer hungry for more than a few small meals a day.
In an earlier post, I had already said this but I’ll say it again: I’m not always giving you advice, I’m just telling you my story. Some of my story is unhealthy. I’m not Charles Barkley, who I consider to be a role model. I am not a role model.
Losing weight simply became a math problem.
The average human burns 2000 calories per day just by living. A pound of fat is considered to be 2000 calories. So, if I ate nothing in a day, I’d lose a pound (rough estimate) but I didn’t not eat, I just calculated how I could eat and still lose weight without exercising, because I wasn’t exercising much.
If I ate 300 calories, then I’d burn 2000 and have a -1700 calories for the day. Do that for two days, and I’d have -3400, almost two pounds in two day, but I’m still eating. If I burn 3 pounds per week then I’ll lose 30 lbs in 10 weeks and 156 pounds in a year.
I’d eat something like one Lean Pocket for lunch. A piece of chicken for dinner with vegetables. One can of soup. Doesn’t sound THAT unhealthy, does it?
Believe it not, when you actually do count calories, you can find a lot of places to cut out shit you don’t need. Of course, I also did cut out shit I did need. I’m not an idiot. When people tell me “You shouldn’t do that!” it’s like they’re telling me that smoking is bad for me or that masturbating feels good. No shit. I’m not a moron and I know what’s healthy and what’s not healthy. What a person can’t understand is what kind of a willpower a person will have when they’re at the end of their rope. Physically, I may have been doing damage or losing muscle weight or everything else that I already knew about. Mentally, I could see myself getting better every day. I know, it’s fucked up. Why couldn’t I have both? Because in that moment, I was TOO large. I can handle myself when I’m 20 or 30 pounds overweight, but not 150.
So I had to cut out the bullshit. For over a year I:
- Didn’t eat a single piece of candy. Offer me a single M&M and I would turn you down. I didn’t have a single food item containing that kind of sugar content, outside of fruit.
- Didn’t eat fast food once. No trips to McDonalds, Wendy’s, whatever. I ate Subway sometimes and refused to have mayonnaise, oil, vinegar or cheese on my sandwich.
- No greasy food. No french fries. Nothing like that.
- I may have had a couple of sodas, but I pretty much drank water and juice. I was hardly drinking alcohol during that year+ either.
When I saw myself lose 15 pounds in a month though, I felt good about myself. When I bought a new waist size on pants, I felt good about myself. When I stopped wearing XXXL shirts, I felt good about myself.
The differences after a month… three months.. six months… a year… they were amazing. I had improved my health in a lot of areas too, like a crippling daily indigestion problem that had now disappeared.
Maybe I didn’t do it in the right way, maybe I should have exercised, but the results worked as far as I’m concerned. Don’t take that as a recommendation or me telling you that “crash dieting is the solution,” because it doesn’t work like that. People who crash diet end up bouncing back to above their original diet when they finally give up on their diet and can cause health issues, and I’m saying that myself to you. So, please don’t comment telling me that what I did was unhealthy, because I’m telling that to you!
I wish I could tell you that it was difficult, but after awhile it just became my normal routine. I just willed myself to push past the hunger pangs that I was having almost all day, every day for awhile. I actually watched a TON of the Food Network at this time. I’d sit there and watch other people make food and eat while I was hungry. You’d think that it would make me break my diet and go eat, but it actually helped me eat with my imagination and eventually I was less hungry.
I’d spend the day thinking about my next meal and I’d never eat before it was time. I could get up and eat something like an un-buttered piece of wheat toast and an egg white. Then I’d wait till noon and eat something healthy and very low in calories. I might have a snack before dinner, something like a single cup of low-fat yogurt. Eat a low-cal dinner and then spend the next five hours hungry as hell but I just kept thinking to myself “If I can just fall asleep, it will be time to eat again.”
Before too long, I couldn’t even eat a small meal without getting full. What I used to be able to put down with ease, like a large Thanksgiving dinner (but every day if I was allowed) became far too much for me. I was now designed to only have small meals, while I saw the pounds shed like crazy. Every night I’d go to bed dreaming about two things that I got to do when I first woke up: eat and weigh myself.
It was a reward to me to get to weigh myself, knowing that on most days I would weigh a pound or two less than I did the day before. Sometimes I would gain weight, but I knew that was going to happen. I know that day-to-day weight is volatile, and you can experience jumps for no reason at all. I’ve seen The Biggest Loser. But overall, I was losing more than I was gaining.
After a year of extreme dieting I was 220 pounds, 140 pounds less than what I weighed before. A full human being had been dropped off of my shoulders, and knee problems that I was experiencing in obesity had disappeared. I could move around like I had never been able to move around before. I didn’t exercise during my weight loss, but now I could exercise like the healthy person I had never been before.
What I did isn’t only against doctor recommendations, but most people honestly can’t do it. I’ve seen people struggle with their weight and been unable to go a week without breaking diet plans, let alone over a year. It’s just something that I have been able to do because I’m the type of person that becomes obsessed with winning and I wanted to win my battle against obesity in a blowout. I used the power of imagination to see myself at the end of the tunnel, envisioning myself as a fit person and that kept me going every minute of every day. I took stock of every calorie that I took in, knowing that even if a dollop of mayonnaise was 20 calories that was 20 less calories that I had to fight against. Twenty calories is nothing, but if I did that 100 times in a year, that was 2000 calories that I had cut out of my diet. If I found another 50 calories that I didn’t need to get by, if all it provided to me was flavor, then I could cut out 5000 calories in a year.
It’s like saying that “my vote doesn’t matter” when it comes to an election, but knowing that the power of millions of voters do matter. That single calorie that I eat might not matter, but the power of thousands of single calories is immense. Using the stairs at work one day won’t matter, but using the stairs at work every day will create a healthy lifestyle and burn more calories in a year than you can imagine.
The bulk of my 150 pound weight loss came at an extreme cost and was the most intense year of my life, but eventually I got the place that I felt I needed to be. I don’t pretend to think that I am Bob the trainer, because I’m not. I didn’t live on a 1000 calorie or 1500 calorie a day diet while cutting out carbs and sugars and exercising an hour a day. I did it my way so that eventually I could get to a place where I felt I could work on myself in the proper way.
In the final part of this series, I’ll wrap it up and explain the minor yo-yo’s that finally got me to a 150 pound loss and the lessons that I learned along the way.
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January 31, 2012 § 3 Comments
When we last left off, I had dropped almost 60 lbs thanks to diet and exercise during my senior year of high school. It was the first time in my life that I was starting to feel “thin” but the truth was that I was still 250 pounds.
Now, I am 6’6″, so weighing 250 pounds isn’t terrible. It’s a lot better than 306 pounds and it was the best that I had ever known. At that point, 250 almost became a good number to me. It’s like if you had never seen a girl naked before and then you saw a middle-aged Geena Davis naked.
Hey, that would look pretty good to you given the circumstances.
At 250, I had perhaps resigned myself to the fact that I had accomplished something. And with my graduation from high school, I stopped trying. I honestly don’t have a great memory of this weight gain but here’s a few things I’ll say about a pre-disposed fat guy putting weight back on:
- Justified Eating: Justified is a show starring Timothy Olyphant that is about a dude that kick’s ass and every once in awhile, take’s names. Justified Eating is my life about a dude that eat’s one time at McDonald’s and then justifies himself being able to go back again the next day.
- Justified Eating is the absolute death-kill for any over-eater, in my opinion. Eat a Twix once and you say “This is my only Twix, I swear.” But four hours later you’re looking at a bag of Peanut M&M’s and saying, “Well, I can eat this bag of M&M’s and we’ll just call this a fat day.” Then you wake up the next day and you say, “It’ll be a fat day and a fat morning,” as you down a 1,200 calorie sugary coffee.
- Mentally, you’ve already given up. Physically, your body is hooked on sugar again. Sugar is a highly addictive substance and once it’s in your system, it begs for more. Honestly, if you are a sugar addict, you have to kick it out of your life completely in the beginning. 3-4 days later you won’t crave it anymore, but in those first few days, it’s begging to get back into your body. I don’t know if that’s a fact for salty foods, but I’m assuming it is. (If you can’t tell already, I am not a dietitian or a physical fitness trainer. I’m just telling you my experiences.)
- Justified Laziness: The same that goes for eating goes for working out. I like to work out a minimum of 4 days a week, preferably 5, when I am trying to lose weight. My attitude is this: I’m impatient and when I want to get somewhere I try to get there as fast as possible. It’s amazing how lazy I am when I’m gaining weight and how hard-working I am when I want to shed it. But Justified Laziness is also a death-kill.
- “I’m not going to go the gym today, but I’ll go tomorrow.” ”I didn’t go yesterday, but I’ll go on Saturday.” ”Well, I didn’t go this week, but I’ll be back next week.” These all start to pile up until you say, “I haven’t been to the gym in six months. What happened? Why am I lying upside down on the foot of my bed with chocolate ice cream streaming down my face while I watch Chip N Dales Rescue Rangers?”
- Justified Laziness means that if I decide to skip the gym today, I’ll skip the gym tomorrow. Justified Eating means that if I decide to eat this Kit Kat bar today, I’ll have Jack in the Box twice tomorrow. You will eventually start to justify being fat again and once you’ve made your mind up, it’s hard to revert back to being that healthy person you once were.
The next two years of my life are sort of a blur. I know I’ve made allusions to being a “pothead” on this blog, but the truth is that I never really drank or smoked in the first 20 years of my life. I just either have a really bad memory, or I blocked out the times in my life that I’d rather forget.
So those next two years are pretty fuzzy.
I went to a community college that was just down the street, so I didn’t even have to move out of my house. I spent two years there, and let me just tell you that community college is nothing like Community, as if you really needed to be told that.
I didn’t make a group of friends. The only person I even remember from those two years is Blake Hawksworth, and the only reason I know that is because he pitches for the St. Louis Cardinals now. So instead of Troy and Abed, it was Ken and Kenny in the Mooorning!
I mean, for me those years were just that; years. It was two years of my life and justified eating and laziness led me back to where I started and then some. What sparked me to drop the weight again? I was finishing up community college and transferring to a four-year school: Washington State.
Stepping back on the scale when you know you’ve added weight again is hard. It’s one of the hardest steps of your life because you know that you’re going to be discouraged. You know that you’re going to see a number that upsets and frustrates you. It’s going to be a reminder of the mistakes you made after you worked so hard to get where you were before. But it’s also one of the best and most important steps you have to make.
I made the step: 315 pounds.
GOD DAMN IT!!!!!!!
You wish you could take back everything you had done wrong to get to this point. You wish it never happened. How could I let this happen again? I promised myself that I would never cross 300 pounds again. I was done with 300 pounds. I meant it so hard when I said it and yet here I stood on the scale looking at 315. What the fuck?
Oh well. Don’t be a pussy about it, just drop the weight again and transfer to a real college and have the time of your life. I was determined again and I had about one summer to get there.
Much like this particular weight gain, I don’t remember a lot about this particular drop in weight. I was working a summer job in Seattle as one of those guys that holds the “STOP” sign on a construction sight. I basically would just watch what I eat but I wasn’t really working out. Standing all day on the construction site was a lot better than doing nothing though.
Boredom and watching TV will absolutely make you fat. Be active, no matter what that means.
All I really remember about that diet is what I told my friend Chris at the time: “Water and popcorn.” He still reminds me of that to this day.
Basically, I had cut out drinking anything except for water, and I’d spend most of the day snacking on that fat free, tasteless microwavable popcorn. I don’t know if that’s the most healthy thing you can do, but here’s the great part about it: It allows you to keep moving your hand to your face while snacking without a bunch of calories.
(Note: Not everything I say is going to be advice. Trust me when I say that at certain points, I’m going to tell you something that I did that I don’t recommend. I think some of the things I did are great and could help other people. I think other things that I did are unhealthy. But this is my story. Not that snacking on popcorn is one of those things, I think it’s actually a great snack in moderation.)
Three months later I moved across the state and enrolled at WSU, which also has one of the top student athletic facilities in the nation. For awhile, I was eating right and working out and I had made it back down to 250 pounds. WOOHOO!!!
All of those mistakes I had made during those two years to go back above 300 pounds were erased. It’s funny to say this but even though it’s a lot easier to put on pounds than it is to lose pounds, if you work hard you will lose weight a lot faster than you will gain it. I can pack on pounds as fast as anyone, but the road back to fitness is actually shorter, though it is a lot more treacherous and contains more hills and coyotes and shit.
Now I had once lost 50-60 pounds as a senior in high school, and 60-70 pounds as a kid transferring schools. I had already twice lost significant amounts of weight in my life. Much like the elevator business, being fat has it’s ups and downs. Right now I was on the better end of it. The key was simply to continue down this path and I’d have all of my twenties and the rest of my life to live a happy and healthy lifestyle.
Then fucking school happened….